Over the course of this year, I have become increasingly in love with the look and style of long exposures, so quite honestly, this is one of my favorite topics we've done so far and I'm quite thrilled with both of our shots. Do I secretly wish I shot Dave's image? Hells yes. Am I jealous of him? Yes. Do I want this printed large and hung over a mantel above my fireplace (if I had one)? Yes, please!
Where to begin? Well, the idea of this topic was to shoot an exposure 30 seconds or longer. At night this is pretty easy to do, but in the daytime or evening hours, it requires blocking some of the light entering through your lens to drag out the exposure time. This can be accomplished by using neutral density filters, which as their name implies are neutral in color and simply darken the front of your lens, like putting sunglasses on and thus reducing the amount of light hitting your sensor. Because you take light away from the sensor, you have decrease your shutter speed (increase your shooting time) to allow more light to burn in over time to compensate. This extra length of time makes for really interesting images. It can smooth out water, streak clouds, make tree limbs dance, grass sway, or stars trail across the sky. If you've never played with long exposures, I suggest you try your hand late evening and as the sky darkens you should be able to keep slowing your shutter speed down and increasing exposure time. It takes a little practice to figure out how long of time you need, but with practice you will get a feel for what looks right. Just remember, a tripod is a necessary must and remote shutter is a nice. If you don't have a remote shutter release, you can simply use your 10 second timer delay on your camera.
My image was shot at Eureka Lake in Eureka, IL at night. This tree really was leaning this precariously over the lake, which by itself was quite interesting. Add in some light spilling onto it from the parking lot and surrounding street lamps and now you get some interesting color lighting it up. I used the 14-24mm wide angle lens I was renting at the time to give a closeup, wide view of the tree and surrounding lake and sky. This was a 4 minute exposure, which just starts to show the star rotation in the sky. I was aided in by all the surrounding lights and I didn't have to light anything up, which was nice and because I was shooting at night, I didn't need to add any filters to lengthen my shooting time, it was dark enough as is.
Dave's stunning image is a 2 minute exposure shot on the Mackinaw River in Tazewell County roughly in the same spot we shot the river from for PDT: River a few months ago. His evening image required 9 stops of ND and 3 stops of grad ND over the sky to create a 2 minute exposure. But, boy is it pretty with those jewel tones and reflection, not to mention the pretty cloud movement across the sky. Be sure to stop over at his blog to read more about his shot. I can't look at it anymore, it's just too good. =) But Dave, you know if you're ever feeling generous, a girl could use this shot for over her imaginary fireplace. Just sayin'.