On the beaches of southern Thailand, clouds swirl around a setting sun.
I’ve always enjoyed long-exposure photography. Taking a photograph is all about capturing the light, and by capturing the changes in light over time, we see our world from a different perspective. The classic examples of this sort of photography are star-trail shots, where points of light blur into lines that streak like shooting-stars across the night sky, and shots of highways in the darkness, where headlamps and tail-lights merge into flowing rivers of yellow-white and red.
The key to taking long-exposure shots is of course limiting the amount of light that gets to the sensor so that it doesn’t ‘burn out’ (go all white). That’s why most shots are taken in low-light or night conditions, of relatively small light-sources (stars or rapidly-moving headlights that leave a very brief impression on the sensor). An alternative is the Neutral Density filter, an [ostensibly] colourless filter that blocks out light coming into the camera, artificially darkening it. An ND2 filter cuts out the light by a factor of 2, or half as much light, meaning ceteris paribus, you can leave the shutter open for twice as long and acheive the same exposure.
My personal favourite is the ND400 filter. It’s a rare and relatively extreme filter, but the long and short of it is that I can shoot long exposure (30 seconds +) frames in broad sunlight if I want to- and for far longer in lower lighting conditions- giving all sorts of interesting effects.
This sunset, near Krabi, was quite pretty, although the hues were a little subdued. Shooting it over a couple of minutes however has added some drama and interest, blurring out people moving on the beach so that most of them vanished and only those who were still remining like ghosts where they perch, and leaving streaks in the sky as the clouds slowly track. It’s captured a lot more violets and tobaccoes in the hues, due partly to the tint that the ND400 unfortunately lends to the shot, despite the claim to be colourless. The sea becomes a little misty up close. All up, the effect leaves a sort of ethereal flavour over anything that isn’t absolutely stationary. This isn’t the greatest long-exposure shot I’ve taken in daylight, and I have tons more work to do in the technique (mostly it’s about picking a good subject in the right light, and having the time and inclination to frame the shots, which can take three, four, ten, sometimes forty-five minutes to set up and execute). But I’m quite pleased with the mood on this one.
Have a great day.