Monday, August 12, 2013

Learning All The Time

Seems like every time I go out shooting I learn something new, even without trying.

I wanted to capture the misty effect you can get with long exposures of several seconds or more with waves on the beach.   When I took this shot it was still too bright for a long exposures.  In order to get the longest shutter speed possible I set my ISO as low as possible (100), my aperture as small as possible (f/22), and added a neutral density filter to the front of my lens to cut the light even more.   I further slowed my shutter by making sure I exposed for the sky and not the sea stack.   I was able to get a 15 second exposure even shooting into the sunset.

Sea Stack Sunset

When I looked at the LCD display on the back of my camera I thought I had captured what I was after.  The waves on the beach blurred into a smooth misty surface that reflected the colors of sunset.  Good for me!

When I was working on this photo just now I realized my mistake, the results of which you can see in this close crop of the trees on top of the sea stack.

See the ghost image of the tree tops?  Obviously the camera moved during that 15 seconds when the shutter was open.   Then I remembered.  To get the shot I wanted without the sandy beach I had to set my camera out near the water.  I had my camera on my tripod, which I set down in the sand and composed the shot.  I waited for the waves to be where I wanted them and started the exposure.   What happened next was comical.  The waves did not stop just below my tripod but continued up the beach and around the tripod legs.  Anyone who has stood at the edge of the surf knows what happens.  The wave washed the sand out from under the tripod legs, which then settled into the sand.  The comical part was me with my hiking boots running from the waves while leaving my camera and tripod in the surf.   Some of my photo buddies who were there with me chuckled at my antics.

Lesson learned - make sure the camera is on a solid surface and is not going to move during the exposure.  Beach sand and waves do not make a solid surface to shoot from.

I had fun trying the long exposures and will try again when I get a chance.  I'm sure I'll learn another lesson in the process.

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