Tag Archives: Long exposure

Shooting waterfalls and moving water… great for Autumn

Moving water shots

Moving water shots are some of the most romantic landscape shots. They are really easy and fun to do. (Image from the video).

Wow! September already…

With Autumn around the corner I am thinking about great projects for the when the leaves start to turn. Here’s a great idea for you to follow up to make the best of the Autumn colours.

Why Autumn

The summer is great for doing wide open landscapes. Especially around the Golden Hour or at dawn when the light has those wonderful reds, golden or yellow colours.

Autumn is better for doing great shots under the forest canopy and those great shadowy dell shots. The Sun’s lower in the sky and there is reduced contrast with fewer distracting bright spots peeping through the trees from the sky. The light is great and the lower aspect is better for creating contrasts in moving and falling water. On top of that the autumnal colours are exciting. More to the point the range of Autumnal colours create depth and contrast. That is something that uniform green of the summer months tends to reduce.

So think about doing your waterfall and forest shots in the next two months or for your local Autumn. You will really benefit from greater contrasts, colours and light angles.

How to blur water for a dreamy effect

To get you started on great water shots here is an introductory video on the way to slightly blur water in your shots. It helps to make the water take on a more motion-filled ethereal dreaminess.
Uploaded by: Gordon Laing (28 Dec 2007)

A couple of extra tips

Sometimes, especially when working under trees with those hidden waterfalls you will get large contrasts with the surrounding environment. Such contrasts often cause highlights that are distracting. Here are a couple of extra tips to help get past this distraction…

  • If you find you are doing a shadowy moving water shot in the trees but the brightness is still too high try using a polariser filter. This will help to increase the contrasts and overall reduce the incoming light. Polarisers reduce the light by up to about two stops which really helps when working with water. It will also reduce sharp reflections which can be confusing in moving water – especially under trees.
  • If you need to reduce the light even more you can try a Neutral Density filter (ND filter) This type of filter is like sunglasses for your camera. You can find out more here… and here is a range of resources on filters.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

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Getting the right shutter speed

New Canon Powershot G1X Digital Point-and-Shoot With SLR control

The Canon Powershot G1X Digital Point-and-Shoot With SLR control. Billed by Canon as the “Highest Image Quality Powershot Digital Camera”

Getting sharpness right…

It’s not just about the right camera. It is also about technique and knowing the best way to set up your shot. Getting the right shutter speed takes a little knowledge when you are starting from scratch. Here are some pointers to help you make choices about shutter speed.

Why set your own shutter speed?

Getting full control of your camera is an important aspect of gaining creative control over the outcome of your photographs. Despite what the manufacturers say, you can only achieve so much by messing around with their ‘modes’. Capturing pictures using camera modes other than the basic photographic modes (ISO, aperture, shutter speed) is going to give you a programmed result. In other words ‘modes’ are what some boffin back at the lab has formulated as ‘about right’ for the average photos people take. But, you are not average are you? You want to produce the shot your way. So gaining control over your shutter speed is important.

The long and short of it

Shutter speed gives us creative control in a number of ways. A very shallow depth of field will give great bokeh in the background. But it is difficult to create on a bright day unless you have a fast shutter speed (to reduce the incoming light). Bokeh is created by a wide aperture. A wide aperture lets a lot of light in. If the shutter is open too long the photograph will be overexposed. So a shorter shutter speed is required.

Shutter speed also controls movement blur. If you are taking a photo of a moving object a relatively long shutter speed will create greater blur (example 1/15th sec). A very short shutter speed will tend to freeze the action preventing blur (example 1/500th second).

Sharpness counts

Starting to control your shutter speed is often about finding the best shutter speed that you can handle for a sharp result. So what is the lowest hand held shutter speed you can apply?

Actually, in practical terms, the slowest hand-held shutter speed is reliant on a number of factors…

  • Physical fitness: If you are not strong enough for using your camera weight it is more difficult to hold it steady. Regular practice with your camera will help you build muscles to steady your hand and therefore shoot at lower shutter speeds.
  • Focal length: Longer focal lengths tend to need higher shutter speeds. As you shoot further into the distance the angle of movement seen at the point of focus is more exaggerated.
  • Optical stabilisation: If your lens is optically stabilised this means it will compensate for the tiny movements of your hands. This compensation will help you to reduce hand shake and therefore give you potentially longer shutter speeds.
  • The picture you want to create: Obviously, the picture you want to produce is dependent on how much blur you want in it. So if you want no blur (for the sharpest result) you want a fast shutter speed.
  • The amount of light: Brighter light allows you to have a shorter shutter speed. Knowing when to use a tripod instead of hand-held is the crucial issue here. Most people simply give up if a low shutter speed demands a tripod… For the accomplished photographer many of the best shots are found in low light situations. So shutter speed control is of crucial importance – as important as using a tripod at the right time.
Rule of thumb

Those factors aside here is a rule of thumb. In practice most people do not shoot with a steady enough hand to produce sharp hand-held shots below 1/60th second. Of course, optical stabilisation on the lens will help you get longer shutter speeds. But even then a practical limit of 1/30th of a second is about as low as you can go and be sharp. That is not a shutter speed I would suggest you work with regularly when hand-held.

Best guide to shutter speed

The shutter speed you need to work to is often related to the focal length you are working with. There is a reasonable rule that can help you get a good guide to picking the best shutter speed for your focal length. It is said that the longest shutter speed you can use hand-held for a lens or zoom setting is:

1 divided by the Focal length times 1.5

So, if your lens is a normal lens at 50mm it will have an effective lowest hand-held shutter speed of 1/(50 x 1.5) or 1/75. The nearest (rounded up) setting on your camera is likely to be 1/80th second.

If you are working at 200mm then, 1/(200 x 1.5) or 1/300th of a second will be your lowest working shutter speed. The nearest setting on most cameras will be 1/320th second.

These apply if you are not using optical stabilisation. You can of course work one or maybe two stops faster if you are using stabilisation. You will need to check that figure against your lens specification. Most optical stabilisation systems will give you between one and two stops extra control.

Shutter speed standard

shutter speed is standardized on a 2:1 scale. When you open the aperture on single aperture stop and at the same time reduce shutter speed by a single step the result will be an identical exposure. This table shows the shutter stop standard steps…

  • 1/2000 sec
  • 1/1000 sec
  • 1/500 sec
  • 1/250 sec
  • 1/125 sec
  • 1/60 sec
  • 1/30 sec
  • 1/15 sec
  • 1/8 sec
  • 1/4 sec
  • 1/2 sec
  • 1 sec

The scale extends up above these figures to very high shutter speeds. Up to date DSLRs may allow have shutter speeds of less than 1/5000ths of a second. Very fast indeed. While at the other end cameras will allow long shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds in manual modes (M mode; or Manual) and longer in “bulb mode”.

Each of the steps in the table above will be equal to a change of one stop of light up or down. A change of one stop of light will double the amount of light entering the camera.

As one stop of light is quite a large amount, cameras have become more sophisticated. Most are now marked off with thirds of a stop for ISO, aperture and shutter speed. So your calculations can be quite precise and lie between these values in the table above.

You can read more about stops of light here: Definition: f number; f stop; Stop

Doing it right

Gaining control over your camera is of importance if you want to become a creative master of its full potential. Learning about shutter speed and other aspects of exposure are critical to learning that control. You can have great fun creating bokeh and controlling movement blur. At the same time you can remove that other type of blur – ugly hand-held shake-blur.

Please leave questions and issues for us to discuss if you want to take this further…

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Pure white featureless skys? How to tone them down…

• Cokin neutral density filters (graduated) •

• Cokin neutral density filters (graduated) •
A quality set of filters that can be adapted to fit any lens size.
Buy: Cokin H250A ND Grad Kit

When your sky is too bright its a problem!

You lose all or most of the detail and your foreground is starkly highlighted by the blown out sky. The way to overcome blow out like this is to use various techniques with neutral density filters. All landscapers come across this problem at some time. The best way to overcome the issue is to tackle it head on in-camera. The best way to do that is to use “graduated neutral density (ND) filters”.

What are ND filters?

Neutral density filters are glass filters that you reduce the incoming light. They do this without affecting the colours in your shot. For blown out skies you want to reduce only the incoming sky light and allow the foreground to expose properly. The Graduated ND filter will allow you to achieve that.

In the picture above you can see the top half of each filter is dark. The bottom half is uncoloured glass. The trick is to place the filter in front of your lens. Place it in such a way that the line separating the dark and light lies on the horizon between the ground (proper exposure) and the bright sky which will be toned down by the filter.

If the sky is blown out in your picture the light is brighter than the camera can cope with. Normally that will be two stops of light or more above your exposure of the ground. The ND grads. normally come in three strengths. ND2 (two stops), ND4 (four stops) and ND8 (eight stops). Each stop of filtration is equal to half of the total light. An ND2 reduces the light by a quarter. An ND8 will cut down the incoming light to 1/16th of the light.

Video – Graduated ND filters for Landscape Photography

In this short video Tony Sweet demonstrates how he balances the dynamic range of a landscape composition using a graduated ND grad. filter working in a wooded valley. He wants to brighten the foreground with a long exposure. This would lead to the distant trees being too bright and would show burnt out spots. He uses a great technique to make the right light conditions…

Recommended purchase

I have been using Cokin filters for years. They are high quality filters that fit into a filter mount screwed onto the front of your lens. I prefer this type of fitting. It is simple to change filters and you can adapt graduated filters to the position you want quite easily. Round filters are far less adaptable and tend to be much more expensive.

If you want to buy an ND grad set of filters here is the kit I recommend…
Cokin H250A ND Grad Kit

You will also need to buy an adaptor for your lens to fit the filter mount. You can buy them singly…
Cokin filter mounts and lens adaptors

You can also buy a complete adaptor kit so you can adapt your filters to fit any one of your lenses…

 

 
If you feel like going the the whole way you can buy a kit that will cater for all your filter needs (including mount and adaptors) try this great kit…

 

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Can you write? Of course you can!
Write for Photokonnexion...

We would love to have your articles or tips posted on our site.
Find out more…
Write for Photokonnexion.


 

Long exposures are easy… here’s how

Milky water shots produce fine art results

The effect of a long exposure on a moving object is to blur it. The classic long exposure photo taken with water produces a blurred milky effect on the moving water. Here is how it is done.

What will these long exposures produce?

First, here are three examples of the type of shots this technique will achieve…

Here is one that is a bit different…

76 - Milky Water by Bob Lawlor, on Flickr

76 – Milky Water by Bob Lawlor, on Flickr
76 – Milky Water by Bob Lawlor, on FlickrExternal link - opens new tab/page

Here is a long exposure more in the traditional format. The water is photographed against non-moving subjects they come out in clear detail while the water becomes frosty/smooth…

Minimalist tidal Long Exposure or just a Seagull perch by Bus_ter, on Flickr

Minimalist tidal Long Exposure or just a Seagull perch by Bus_ter, on Flickr
Minimalist tidal Long Exposure or just a Seagull perch by Bus_ter, on FlickrExternal link - opens new tab/page

What you will need

You will need a dense ND filter. This will be what will enable you to keep the shutter open for a long period to blur the water surface. You will also need a camera that can be operated in full manual mode. You need to also have a “bulb” setting available. Other than that you will need all your normal photographic equipment.

Long exposure tutorial with Scott Kelby

To explain the technique here is a video from Scott Kelby which show you how to do the actual shots…

Long exposure tutorial with Scott Kelby
Weekly Photo Tips’s Video Channel

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.