Hope everyone is enjoying their summer vacation at a distance
and welcome to this weeks newsletter:)
Last week I mentioned I will be doing a post about long exposures and how I do it.
So here I will first give you all some shots of my gear and then we can go in to the details.
I will be doing this out from an Olympus perspective of course, since that what I use,
but the settings you need to be aware of are adjustable on any digital middle range to high end camera out there these days. So first some pictures of the gear:
OLYMPUS WITH GEAR AND STASH
The digital camera I use is an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark 2. Click the name to learn more about the specs on the Olympus page. It is starting to get to be an old camera now by tech standards, but it suits my needs perfectly. As you see in the top left corner, the digital display is folded out. I am very happy I chose this type of fold out and turn display. It is so very useful when you are shooting from a ants perspective or want to be in stealth mode. As you also can choose the camera to be silent.
To the right of the camera is 3 battery packs. This is a minimum to bring with this camera I am afraid, as the battery life is really bad on these cameras. You will find that in almost any review you read of this camera. The screens use a lot of juice. Further right the all but trusty blower for dust and lenspen. Below is a grey cloth fit to an orange pouch that is very handy in cleaning the screen and camera. DO NOT clean a lens with any cloth. You may very well be unlucky and wipe dirt or sand around with the cloth and make stripes. Blow thoroughly and use a lenspen. Maybe a lens wipe after.
At the bottom left is my remote release which is very handy when taking long exposures. You can of course easily set the timer on the camera, but it makes the picture taking a lot more effortless and enjoyable. Last to the bottom right, a pouch with SD cards ready to be formatted in the camera. There are a lot of discussions on what is the best way. I have found the usually advised version to work reliable. With reliable I mean has never failed me yet. That being after downloading all your pictures to your computer, you just eject it. It is first when you put it where it is supposed to store things, that being your camera, that you format it there. That way it is the same machine that is storing that has done the formatting.
SIRUI TRIPOD AND BAG
A tripod for long exposure is a must I would say. Yes you can put it on something in the wild, but you will most likely scratch up your camera, or in worst case see it tumbling down from where you have set it up. You want a sturdy and safe place for your camera.The one I have is a Sirui T-200 4XL. I was warned that it with a large tripod it would be so heavy to carry around. I disregarded that and went for a large one and have not regretted it. I don't go a lot on 20 mile hikes, so I can't say for sure if it would weigh me down. It is made of aluminium though and the bag is very nice to carry. It has never bothered me as big.
FILTERHOLDER, LENSRING, FILTERBAG AND FILTERS
When shooting long exposures you can encounter over or under lighting problems or colour issues. I shot long exposures at first without any filters. I realised I was getting a lot of uneven results and using to much time correcting them in photoshop. I also didn't get the results I wanted. There are tons of different filters out there, and this is only my setup.
In the top left is the filterholder(square)which holds the actual filters. This is then attached to the circular black disc that is screwed on to the lens itself. The beige pouch to the right stores all the filters in separate pockets so they don't get scratched. The filters, starting from top left are: 10stop, 6stop and a circular polariser.
bottom left are: ND grad filters 6,9 and 3.
The stop filters make the shot darker about 10 or 6 stops.
The circular polariser makes clouds pop out or are given more contrast and also can tone down reflections depending on which way you insert it into the filter holder.
The ND filter make a section of the picture darker, 3, 6 or 9 stops "gradiently".
Guess that's fine with the equipment, but how do I use this, and how do I set up?
Well, after I have found my location and composed it in my mind, I set up the tripod and camera and move it about until I have the final composition. Then I set up the release cable and put on the lens adapter and filter holder. Before setting up the filters, you need to know what kind of result you are aiming for. If I am shooting water, I usually want a very smooth look, which gets smoother the longer exposure. So when I can I use the 10stop. I put always the stop filter in the slot closest to the lens. After that I take out my polariser and twist and turn it to see if it gives me a desired effect. To be honest it always does, and I put that in the second slot in front of the stop filter. If the sky is very much lighter than the foreground or water, I will ad a ND gradient filter in the last slot. The best way to see that your ND filter is covering what you want, is to have only the ND in the holder. Then you look through the viewfinder, or on your screen, as you push the filter down or up. When it is where you want it then you can put in the other filters.
Again, this is my way I do it, and a very common way to set up long exposure shots. There are lots of ways and filters to use and to combine, and you just have to try it out to get what is best for you.
So you have set up your filters and you are ready to take the shot. What are the settings and how do I know how long the shutter should be open?
As far as settings goes, these are important:
Shoot RAW and use manual mode.
Turn off your stabiliser. That being in the lens or camera body, it needs to be off.
I also turn of noise reduction so the camera doesn't decide for me something I can choose in photoshop later. I leave the noise filter though on. This reduces noise with high ISO´s.
You also need your camera to be in Bulb mode or Live Time mode. That means you decide how long the shutter is open with your remote release.
Then, how to shoot:
After everything is set up like above, I take off the holder with the filters from the lens. I then set the aperture, iso and shutter speed to take a regular picture. Take a test photo and see if you are happy with the lighting conditions. If you are, then you use the shutter speed you had, lets say it is 1/4th of a second. Turn your shutter speed back to bulb or time mode. Then comes the genius part; you open your Lee Stopper App (get it here) and set the left wheel to the time you shot your regular picture; 1/4th of a second.
LEE STOPPER APP
As you can see, I will have to keep my shutter open for 4 minutes with only my 10stop on.
The app has settings for 6, 10 or 15stops. Since I now have a polariser and a ND filter I will ad 1/3 of the time for the 10stop option; 4mins +1min20sec. This might be a off, but then you just adjust and shoot again. If you have live time view on your screen, you don't have to follow the clock, but just close the shutter when you are happy with what you see:) I do not use this option a lot since my screen quickly chews up my battery life.
This is basically how I shoot, and the equipment I use. There are lots of more tips and tricks to this, but I can not cover it all here:)
Hope you enjoyed this weeks little bit nerdy dive into long exposure, and here is where its at with the analog department: Going to pick up a film tomorrow, which I am hoping is the 120 film for the Flexaret finished developed:) Denny is taking over the Pentax ME and tinkering on what film to get first. I am contemplating on which film to put in the ME Super. It might be another Lomochrome Purple:)
Thanks for reading, and to all of you a good night or good morning, Sjur
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