The most frequently photographed scenery on the eastern part of the island of Cyprus is without a doubt Cavo Greco. As a teenager I remember visiting the nearby Sea Caves with my friends, always competing to prove our manhood by jumping off the 20 meter cliff straight into the crystal clear waters. An exhilarating adrenaline pumping (and relatively stupid) act, but the bragging rights that followed made it all worthwhile!
This weekend, I had a chance to visit the Caves again but this time with a different agenda in mind. This time around I wanted to capture the scenery with my camera in a way that is different from all the “I love Cyprus” postcards you can buy at your local souvenir shop.
I got there about an hour before sunset and started scouting the area for a good vantage point. I “worked the scene” so to speak for a good 40 minutes, took a dozen pictures but to my dismay nothing seemed to pop out at me. I was just about to give up when I turned around and saw the following scene. I literally had to place my tripod inches from the edge of the cliff. I kneeled down and screwed on my ND4 filter, allowing me to slow down my shutter speed to almost 2 secs.
Taken with my Canon 60D and my Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 IS lens at 18mm, F22 (for max depth of field), ISO 100 and bracketed at -2/0/+2.
This is a good opportunity for me to share 3 tips that I find invaluable when taking pictures with a tripod-mounted camera in low light conditions:
1) If your lens supports Image Stabilization (a.k.a. Vibration Reduction or Optical Stabilisation) then you must turn it OFF. That feature is helpful in low light conditions when the camera is hand-held. When tripod mounted, the mechanism in fact introduces vibration as it tries to compensate for the non-existing vibrations that it assumes there might be.
2) If your camera allows you to lock your mirror, then go ahead and do so. The mirror is a moving part during shutter release and it does introduce vibration! Enabling Live View mode automatically locks the mirror too, otherwise you will need to disable it manually from the function settings.
3) Always, always use a remote cable release. If you don’t have one, then try setting the timer on your camera, press the button and move back.