Another Sunrise.. Another Long Exposure

So once again a big thank you to Daniel K Cheung for getting me up and out of bed at an ungodly hour to drive half asleep towards the ocean. Back to an old favourite today.. the Mahon Pool at Maroubra. This would have to be one of my most favourite places in Sydney I think for shoots. It has so much character and is always defined by the ocean and the weather. Big swells/tides/rain and this place transforms into a powerful location. This morning was only second to a visit in August which saw us almost get taken out! I tried some longer exposures but wasnt able to be in one spot long enough before having to make for higher ground. I always kept an eye on the ocean so never fear.
You will see that of late I have been taking long exposures, as well as some text underneath the photos which means a lot of mumbo jumbo to most. For this top image it was F7.1 @ 180 seconds.. which means the F stop was 7.1 and I exposed the camera for a total of 180 seconds. Still mumbo jumbo? So basically each lens you use on a SLR/DSLR has an aperture setting. All lens have ‘Aperture’  blades built within, and this controls the amount of light that is let in through the lens. Without going into too much detail, you are looking at a having an ‘open setting’ which is a smaller number (around F1.8 – F4) or a ‘closed setting’ which is a larger number (around f11 – f22). The setting of open vs closed also controls the DOF (Depth of Field).. but I am sure I can tackle this another time. So why am I telling you this? Well basically for a longer exposure you want to shoot with a low ISO setting (film or sensor sensitivity to light) and a larger aperture of anywhere between f11 – f22. You then adjust your shutter speed and expose for longer (from seconds to minutes) to reach your desired effect. Now in regular light conditions even at F22 you can only expose for a matter of seconds, due to the fact even though there is only a small amount of light being allowed through the lens, it is generally still bright enough to over expose the image if too long. Bring in the 10 stopper… which can add seconds or minutes to a shot. And back we come full circle to the above shot.. where we are looking at a reasonably open aperture of F7.1 but due to the 10 stopper I was able to expose for a whole 3 minutes. It was still quite dark but I have processed this to a desired effect.

And so that is what I do at 5am.. I calculate F stops and ISO and exposure time… (with some success).. it is a lot of trial and error but on a morning like this, I was happy to walk away with that one image. Luckily for me I also snapped another shot.. at F22 which I will share below.

I think I will definitely write up a guide on how they work, as well as the ongoing advantages/disadvantages of using them. Perhaps explaining a bit on how things work. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment,  I would be happy to help. My next blog post will be the last couple of film rolls… I havent been lazy.. just busy shooting!

Till next time..

One comment


  • Linda G

    Gorgeous pics of a beautiful place.
    And thanks for the lesson too..! :)

    January 22, 2011

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