Friday, December 30, 2011

Tips of the Trade- More Exposing?

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Tomorrow is the last day 2011, is everyone in Hohenfels ready for the New Year?

Today we’re going to do a short post on long exposures. By that, I don’t mean what you might be thinking… Actually, we’ll be talking about exposures made over an extended period, usually longer than 1 or 2 seconds. Most of you already know this stuff, but a little refresher is always nice. With longer nights upon us, and lovely seasonal decorations and lighting, long exposures can be a real shot maker during this time of year. To create starbursts, for instance, longer exposure means longer rays.

Chances are you already know that long exposures absolutely REQUIRE the use of a tripod. Notice the capitalization of REQUIRE. If you don’t have a tripod, and your exposure is short enough, a monopod will work, but it’s a tradeoff. 30 seconds on a monopod probably won’t get the shot you want. The best option is a slightly heavy tripod, one that has the fewest leg extensions. More leg extensions mean thinner legs and less support. When you can get way with it, don’t extend your legs, and if you have to, start with the top ones, which are thicker until you get the height you need. Try to use a tripod with a center element that doesn’t crank up, but if you do, keep it down where possible to add support.

Don’t use your finger to release your shutter. Get a good shutter release with a long enough cable for your purpose, or go wireless. Turn off your IS, if your lens has it. IS can cause blurring as the elements move looking for motion to offset. If your camera is capable, turn on mirror lock up. Even the motion of the mirror can cause subtle blurring. Compose your image, lock your mirror, and then activate your shutter. If your camera has a delay, activate it to get that extra pause to allow shake to diminish. Carry a good flashlight or other light source, as you’ll likely be working in the dark. Your kids or spouse can be helpful if you’re shooting inside to turn on the lights for focusing, then turning them off when you’re ready to start the shot.

Now I’ll give you a few ideas for using this information.

Has anyone shot star trails? This “simple” long exposure can create some interesting images. Find a strong center of interest and the North Star, Put the North Star at the center of interest and compose your image appropriately. Then expose for about 10 minutes, it will seem as if the stars are rotating around your subject. To do this, you should be in bulb mode and your remote release should have a lock function, as most cameras limit at about 30 seconds. Set your f/stop at about f/16 and your time to B. Longer times equal longer trails, shorter times equal generally brighter trails. Don’t do this during a full moon, as it works best on a moonless night.

How about light painting? Using an exposure time as above, you can use lights, flashes, and other sources to paint your scene with some good light, or create some really interesting effect. Try it with a candle or flashlight for something cool. Candles can create the illusion of fire rings and the like, check it out.

Try making a nighttime scene into a daytime shot. During the fool moon, long enough exposures can create the illusion of daylight. A nice feature of nighttime scenes is the slow shutter allows for nice effects with fog or moving water.

Of course, long exposures can be used to set a mood or allow dark areas to expose better, too. You’re only limited by your creativity! I hope you’ll post some of yours at the Facebook page and share them with us.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, and remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. We have 2 votes now, and it’s a tie. Get yours in to have a say! Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

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