Last week, for some long exposure photography, I had the pleasure of getting together with Gevon and Scott along the waterfront in Sewaren, New Jersey. I had no idea the spot Scott took us to even existed, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I know Scott, so I was sure it would be a great location.
Scott is a long exposure photography wizard. Gevon’s not too shabby, either. And both of them were using excellent filter kits (Scott with a Lee Filter kit, Gevon with a WonderPana). Since I don’t usually shoot what would be truly considered long exposure photography, I was not as prepared as I wish I was. But that’s OK! With the time of evening we were shooting, a little knowledge, some advice and input from Scott and Gevon and a couple of stacked filters, I was able to get the results I was after. Of course, it left me wanting to experiment more, so I’m researching neutral density filters.
Long Exposure Photography
Long-exposure photography or time-exposure photography involves using a long-duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the moving elements. The paths of moving light sources become clearly visible.
I’ve done some long exposure photography in the past, including one of my absolute favorite images, “As Time Goes By.”
But in terms of long exposure, this was short. Just enough to get the blur of modern vehicles as they passed by the truck on Main Street. In Sewaren, our exposure times were measured in minutes, not seconds. With a camera like the T4i, this can be a challenge, unless you have a controller that allows you to set your exposure times (I use a Neewer timer remote). Even then, it took a little finagling and some ideas from Scott before I got it working the way I needed it to.
I consider myself lucky, because Scott (along with our friend Joe) is preparing to host a workshop on Long Exposure Photography. So as much as he was enjoying the time we were shooting, he was also very much in teacher mode, whenever I had a question. It didn’t take long to get things dialed in – even though I was using my least favorite lens out of my bag. A funny thing when I’m around other photographers – I don’t feel competitive, but I do want to make sure I’m not only learning, but applying the techniques I see them using while we’re all shooting. There’s a certain sense of pride that goes along with learning something and being able to apply it immediately. There’s an even bigger sense of pride when I can do it using my own equipment – especially if it’s a piece I very rarely use (In this case, a Canon 75-300mm lens). Not that it’s a bad lens, we just don’t seem to get along most of the time.
At first, I was cursing myself – to date, I have not purchased a single ND filter for my Sigma 17-70mm lens. But as any photographer will tell you, you have to adapt. You have to work with what is in your bag and be prepared to change course when you have to. One of my favorite quotes is “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” Since I had filters for the 75-300, that’s what I was going to use and I was going to make it work.
The evening proved to be interesting. I learned that the 75-300mm. is more versatile in these situations than I thought it would be. We had opportunities beyond shooting just a skyline/waterscape. One of the most interesting tugboats I’ve ever seen came into the dock, there were pleasure boaters and fishermen, barges and even some interesting wildlife. Beyond all of that, you could see the New York City skyline.
From our vantage point, there was several areas of interest. First of all, the industrial landscape is excellent. Directly across the Arthur Kill was a large ship, riding high in the water. To our left was what I believe was a refinery. With four stacks, a burn off tower and a neon HESS sign, the reflections in the water were excellent and ideal for long exposure photography.
So, the lessons learned:
1) The 75-300mm isn’t really the worst lens I own. As I already suspected, there was nothing wrong with the lens…
2) Being forced to try something different will inevitably end in a learning experience.
3) Long exposure photography is a lot of fun, especially with friends.
4) I NEED a neutral density filter kit, or at the very least, a darker ND lens, 72mm.
5) The beer and food at JJ Bittings are awesome, which kind of makes up for the lackluster service (in the seating area, not at the bar!).
If you’re interested in learning more about long exposure photography, I highly encourage you to sign up for the workshop Scott and Joe have put together. Space is limited, so don’t wait! Based on what I learned just by hanging out with Scott, I know the workshop will be excellent!
For more information about Scott and Joe‘s Long Exposure Photography Workshop, click here:
To register, click here:
Equipment list from Long Exposure Photography outing:
Canon EOS T4i
Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC IF Macro lens
Canon 75-300mm lens
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto lens
Neewer Timer Remote
Neutral Density Filter