This past weekend, Daria and I decided to spend the weekend in Pafos. I thought this would be a great opportunity to head to Petra tou Romiou (the famous birthplace of Aphrodite), photograph some rocks and give the “Long Exposure” technique a try. I wasn’t planning on getting any great shots – if anything, this was going to be an educational trial run to figure out how to properly use my 10-stop ND filter.
For anyone not into the photography technical jargon, the purpose of a solid ND filter is to slow down the camera’s shutter speed, allowing the photographer to capture movement. So if your camera’s speed reading is for example 1/100 sec, placing a 10-stop filter on the front of the lens (which looks like a black piece of glass), allows you to slow down your speed by 2^10, giving your therefore a 10 sec exposure for the same aperture.
Below is the result of my first attempt. In this case I managed to get a 40 sec exposure time, which ended up completely blurring the water to the point where it came out looking like mist. I can’t say I am ecstatic with the picture content-wise (afterall this was a technical exercise and less so a creative one), but if anything I have some key takeaways for next time I give this a try:
- You must have patience…and a lot of it! Since this particular filter is a solid black piece of glass, the only way to dial in the right camera settings, it to manually focus before putting on the filter, take a reading, do some math to figure out the final shutter speed and then screw on the filter.
- You need to have a lot of motion going on to make this worthwhile. Unfortunately the weather was pretty good (yeah photographers are weird this way), so there were no clouds in the sky. Moving clouds and water make great elements to photograph using this technique.
- If you have someone with you, make sure they are patient too! Yeap, enough said about Daria!
- Watch out for the waves! That might sound like common sense, but I am almost fell for that one! I placed my tripod really low in a dry area on the pebbles, but at some point a huge wave came out and almost swept my gear. I managed to get my feet completely soaked, but at least the camera and tripod get to see another day.
Needless to say I will give this technique another go. Anyone know where I can find a pier or a lighthouse here in Cyprus?
Taken with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and Canon F2.8L lens at ISO 100, F22, 40 sec exposure (with B+W ND 3.0 solid filter).