Long exposure day shots - hello ND filters!

I love playing with long exposure night shots - my last blog post about star trails sort of covered that, but I also had a bit of fun playing with long exposure day shots the day after we shot star trails in the Glasshouse Mountains.

The scene was Dicky Beach, Caloundra, in the glaring midday sun. It's usually the time of day that "real landscape photographers" avoid.... they typically shoot at the really anti-social times of the day and night...in the dark. And cold. Or...at the slightly more socially acceptable times of "golden hour", the hour or so around dawn and dusk when magical things happen with light.

So, while midday was fabulous from a "being awake" perspective, it was apparently cacko for shooting reasonable beach scenes.

Hello neutral density filters! According to Hoya's website, "in conditions of extreme light intensity, such as sunshine on snowy mountains or on the beach, or when using a camcorder, ND (Neutral Density) filters are recommended as essential." You would expect a filter manufacturer to say that!

But...ND filters reduce the amount of light hitting the camera's sensor, which allows you to reduce shutter speeds and decrease depth of field.

Ages ago, I bought a Hoya NDx4 and NDx8, which decrease aperture by 2 and 3 stops respectively.

In the shots below, I was using my 5DII with a 24-70mm lens (1st two photos) or the 70-200mm (3rd prd photo), together with a stacked 4x ND filter, 8x ND Filter and a circular polarising filter.

The first photo shows the scene as it actually was (f/22, 1/8, ISO 100).

The photo below shows the scene with the 24-70mm lens, and the stacked ND and circular polarising filters (f/22, 1/4 sec, ISO 50).

This photo below shows the scene with the 70-200 mm lens, and the stacked ND and circular polarising filters (f/32, 1.6 sec, ISO 50 at 125mm), using the in-camera monochrome setting with a sepia filter. I have not tended to use this lens much for landscapes, but I loved that it let me stop down to f/32 and result in a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds. This slow shutter speed created the blur in the waves - and is my favourite image from the day.

This is another image I took using the two stacked ND filters together with the polarising filter, taken on an extremely overcast day.