Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Adventure of Timed Exposures

The timed exposure has been a mainstay in photography since its beginning.  The timed exposure is often used for capturing the movement of water.  With time standing still, water flows and leaves beautiful, sensual streaks on the sensor.   It takes on the sense of flowing silk.  Here is an example of water flowing in a 2 second exposure.

Waterfall Abstract

Waterfall shot with a 2 second exposure.



The Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Have you ever been out shooting landscapes and found that the sky was so bright that you could not get a decent exposure?   Even taking a reading of the sky and the land separately and splitting the difference in exposure doesn’t help.   The results are still the same, you are not satisfied with the end result.   So what can you do?

One of the most powerful tools you can add to your photography kit is a graduated neutral density filter.  They are usually rectangular in shape with the full strength neutral density lightening to clear.   They are available in a variety of strengths to meet your needs.

While you can get them in round filters, I highly recommend the rectangular filters even though you will have to have a filter holder.  You have much more shooting flexibility with the rectangular version.

The Graduated Neutral Density Filter  makes it possible to shoot a landscape even when you have a very bright sky and a darker land mass.   If you shoot without the filter, you will either blow out the sky or you will have very dark land.   There are simply too many stops between the land and sky.   Something has to give.

The way to control the situation is to use the filter putting the full strength neutral density portion at the top and have the land unaffected by the clear portion.   The result is you lessen the brightness of the sky so it is more in proportion to the brightness of the land.   This gives you an exposure you can live with.

When I shoot landscapes now, I generally have the neutral density filter at hand.

The Remote Shutter Release

You know, I didn’t think I really needed a remote shutter release for my camera.  It seemed like an expenditure I did not need to make.   Then I thought back to my film days.  I had a manual remote shutter release then.   I used it all the time.  I rarely took a photo from my tripod without using it.  So why the resistance now?  

Maybe it was the expense.  Maybe it was that I had gotten used to living without it.  I guess I needed a compelling reason to buy one.  

That reason arrived when I wanted to shoot star trail photographs.  It required a timed exposure.  The only way my D90 will take a timed exposure is with a remote shutter release with button lock.   If you want to make the photography you have to pay the price. 

I ordered my remote shutter release and took my star trail photos.   And, then something wonderful happened.  I began to use the remote every time I shot from a tripod.  I got back into using every advantage I could to make the sharpest photograph possible.

When you shoot from a tripod by pressing your shutter, you introduce one more little vibration that influences the sharpness of your photographs.  Using the remote eliminates this vibration from your image.   In the long run, you get sharper photographs.

In retrospect, I am not sure how I got along without the remote shutter release.  It has become a major part of my shooting routine.