Landscape Photography Vlogs

Using Long Exposure Photography to Exploit Bad Light

We don’t always get great landscape photography conditions. Bad light can be exploited though by using techniques such as long exposure and black and white photography. Especially when combined and edited using Silver Efex Pro from the NIK collection.

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In this video I head into the depths of the Yorkshire Dales for a day of landscape photography in some less than ideal conditions. 

It’s easy to imagine photographing a beautiful landscape in great weather. It’s warm, the sun is about to light up the evening sky and life is good. It’s an appealing experience that we chase over and over again. On the other hand amazing images can be captured in rough, stormy weather with unique conditions. But what about those grey days in between? Here in the UK we have a lot of them. They can be bleak and getting off the sofa to go out and take pictures is not an obvious choice. However, there are great shots to be captured in all conditions if we are willing to get creative.

One effective method to make the most of grey conditions and flat light is to use long exposure photography. It creates interest by smoothing out clouds and water and creating an ethereal feel. I have talked in depth about long exposure before:

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Whilst grey conditions produce flat light it does not necessarily mean it is bad. An extreme long exposure of over two minutes essentially turns textures of the sky and water into smooth tones. It creates new possibilities with composition and the soft light adds to the overall fine art photography feel of the image. Combining this with a black and white conversion can add to the image even more and create something unique on a day when no other photographers were out.

Black and white images can be post processed much more heavily than colour images which creates extra creative possibilities, especially with contrast. Using Silver Efex Pro from the NIK collection is a brilliant way to edit black and white pictures. Whilst this video is not a silver Efex pro tutorial I go through the edit of the image I capture to show how the app can make your black and white images pop.

Raise your Landscape Photography Game Using Long Exposure

Discover new creative tools by using long exposure to take you images to the next level. We travel to Whitby in this landscape photography tutorial and vlog.

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In this landscape photography tutorial I travel to Whitby in North Yorkshire to capture and share how I create my long exposure images. 

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If you have never seen long exposure photography before you are in for a treat and capturing these images brings new challenges and creative possibilities. Essentially what is happening is by increasing the exposure time we introduce movement into our image that would normally be frozen and it gives the picture added interest and a look that would not be seen by your own eyes.

This video focuses on capturing long exposure landscapes during the day but the principles are the same no matter how or when you use it..

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You will already understand the exposure triangle so when increasing exposure time we need to balance things by reducing ISO or making our aperture smaller to prevent the image being over exposed. However, in daylight conditions, even with ISO at 100 and an aperture at f/16, your shot could still be over exposed before even one second has passed. To achieve the desired effect we want our exposure to be at least 30 seconds. The only way to do this is to use ND filters. These are filters added to the front of your lens that reduce the amount of light passing through the lens without severely affecting the colour. ND filters are rated by how many stops of light they reduce the exposure by. For example if you attach a 2 stop filter to your lens you will need to increase exposure in your camera by the same 2 stops to obtain a proper exposure.

Neutral Density Filters

Neutral Density filters like the Lee Big Stopper reduce the amount of light entering the lens. In the tutorial we are using a 6 stop filter, a 10 stop filter and a Formatt Hitech 82mm 16 stop ND filter which allows us to get some extremely long exposures of several minutes, even in bright daylight conditions.

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Why do Long Exposure Phototgraphy?

Exposures of this length have a number of uses. It will reduce the roughest waters to a smooth tranquil scene and add lots of movement to even the slowest moving clouds. In city scenes it can also be used to remove people from your images. At night it can be used for star trail shots and create interesting and varied light painting images. 

Shutter Release Cable

In addition to the ND filter you will also need a shutter release cable, unless you have a built in timer, allowing you to lock the shutter open when using the bulb mode. Keeping your camera very still is also essential so a good sturdy tripod is handy. If you don't have a tripod you could also place your camera down on a wall or some raised ground. A bean bag can be used to allow a small amount of adjustment or to keep things level on an uneven surface. When using a DSLR it is worth covering your viewfinder with some gaff tape or a viewfinder cap because light can creep in and ruin your image.

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Once you are armed with this knowledge and the few tools you need; get out and take some pictures. It is an amazing motivation to go and see the world and can really pull you out of the landscape photography dip.