Sunday, July 4, 2010

Go Long!

It's that time of year again. Back at beautiful Clear Lake for our regular family sojourn, and armed as usual with an arsenal of camera equipment. This time I bring a fresh new set of Lee graduated and neutral density filters, having giving up on the cheap=crappy Cokin filters used in previous outings (they imparted brutal color casts and were prone to flare). I was particularly excited to put the Lee Big Stopper into use. It's a 10-stop pair of sunglasses for your lens that reduces light by (if my math is correct) about 1000x, thereby allowing for extra-long exposures that deliver the silky smooth waters I really like.

First crack at it was the bridge to the pier. More of a proof-of-concept as I want more wispy cloud movement. Will keep trying. The exposure here is 100 seconds.

Although you wouldn't know it from this image, the water was actually quite choppy and there was a constant flow of people passing by on the bridge. All rendered smooth and invisible thanks to the 10-stop filter. A Lee 3-stop hard grad balances the sky with the foreground.

Last night presented an opportunity for capturing beautifully colored clouds at dusk. But 100 seconds was pretty pedestrian. What happens at 166 seconds - almost 3 minutes?

Again a single exposure - no Photoshop funny business with the brightness of the sky tamed with the 3-stop hard grad. Water was much rougher as the wind blew in off the lake. Here, instead of the normal 1/6th second exposure without the filter those waves are blurred into oblivion. Splashes against the rocks become a fine mist. And the clouds become a sweeping blanket of color. If this image doesn't relax your soul I don't know what will.

Feeling saucy I figured I'd push it farther one more time. 251 seconds. Over 4 minutes. Trip the shutter and have seat. Yields this purposely abstract rendition of the waning light.

Challenge with this type of photography is, while addictive, can also become redundant. So I'll need to exercise some will power over the next couple of weeks and not overdo it.


  1. These are great!! I'm going to have to look into replacing my Cokin ND filters!

  2. Not sure which Cokin's you're using. I had the P-Series. The Z-Pro are supposed to be better but the Lee's are the only ones I've read about that don't kill you with a color cast. The Big Stopper does a bit with such a strong reduction - actually cools things down but easily corrected with a warmer white balance (cloudy instead of sunny, or shade instead of cloudy) at capture or in post. Downside? Frickin' expensive. :-(

  3. No clue what you are talking about Jay but I am glad to have visited your blog and seen how much fun you are having with your new camera stuff. Enjoyed your photos. Hope you and your family have a great vacation at clear lake. Just to fit in i will add: "Down with Cokin"

    'Happy with my auto everything, point and shoot camera'- Trev.