1. Get your camera out of your hands and onto a tripod, not just any tripod either. Using a cheap flimsy tripod is a recipe for camera shake, the shutter of the camera can be enough to cause a vibration in a flimsy tripod. Although they aren’t cheap do yourself a favour and invest once in a sturdy tripod such as those by Manfrotto and Gitzo.
2. Go low Mr ISO. You may first think ok, low light, lets increase the ISO. The unfortunate side effect of increased ISO is increased noise, this become a real issue when photographing with long exposure times so keeping the ISO down is of great importance. Simply use a longer shutter speed instead, knowing that the camera is supported well on your solid tripod.
3. The density, it is neutral. Ever heard of a neutral density filter? Available in a myriad of strengths and rated by how much light they cut. Essentially ND filters decrease the amount of light hitting your sensor whilst imparting no other changes in color temperature or visual quality. In practise they often change the color temperature slightly however it is nothing that can’t be fixed with white balance. Now lets assume we are photographing a waterfall and we wish to render the water as a soft mist. First you would select a low ISO and a small aperture in order to obtain the slowest shutter speed possible, yet the shutter speed may still be faster than you wish. Just pop on an ND filter to slow things down even more and do a little dance. Just because.
4. Film is great for long exposure photography as it doesn’t build the noise that digital sensors do, if shooting film however you must be aware of a trait known as reciprocity failure. Essentially it is a phenomenon whereby films sensitivity to light changes with exposure time. The easiest option for dealing with this is to find a “reciprocity chart” for the specific film you are using and refer to this when calculating exposure times.
5. Carry a torch! Often when shooting long exposure photos it will be dark or getting dark, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten a torch and had to fumble around as darkness fell. A torch is so handy to keep in your bag for such occasions.
Read more great articles from samuel – wedding photography – film vs digital and destination wedding photography in Sydney Australia
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