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Long Exposure Photos

During some errands to UBC & Vancouver, I decided to try taking some long exposure night photos. After the success of some long exposure shots I tried at the cabin on Nicola Lake, I thought I would try a few more to get more of a feel for them.

Long Exposure Vancouver City Scape

Vancouver City Scape

First stop, Jericho Beach, just north of UBC (University of British Columbia). It’s pretty scary there at night. At just 9:00pm in late September it’s pitch black. No street lights or anything. Good thing my girlfriend and I both have iPhones: we made quick use of a flashlight app and made our way to the edge of the water. To get high enough over the plants on the edge of the water, we raised the tripod pretty much as high as it would go. Even so, some of the lower portion of the original needed to be cropped out. The settings for this first cityscape photo were: ISO 200, 70mm, f/8.0, 10.0 sec.

Here’s a trick for everyone who wants to try long exposures but who doesn’t happen to own a cable release. The goal with long exposure photography is to take the photo without bumping the camera even a little. If you set the camera to have a short delay from the time you press the shutter, like 2 seconds for example, you can press the shutter and then move away from the camera while it takes photo without you touching it at all. I’m not sure about Canon, but on some Nikons like my D300s you can even set the camera to retract the mirror and then have it wait a moment before it takes the photo to minimize the vibrations even more.

Long Exposure Cars on Granville Street Bridge

Long Exposure Cars

For our second set of photos for the evening we decided to try a long exposure of traffic going across the Granville Street bridge. We found a good place to park near Pacific Boarder on 4th Ave West and hiked up onto the bridge. We tried a variety of shots, but this is the one we think we liked the most. We used the following settings: ISO 200, 24mm, f/22, 20.0 sec on the tripod of course with the short delay on the shutter. It’s funny – I’ve been photographing people and things for almost eight years and this is the first time I’ve actually done a long exposure of traffic. I really like the results and will be looking for more spots to do this in the future.

If you have a camera and a semi-sturdy tripod that won’t rock in the wind, you should definitely try this out. Just get a high ISO (100 or 200) and a long exposure of 10-30 seconds on a tripod. Just experiment until you get the exposure you want and then wait for the traffic to come by in a medium to large rush. Starting just after dusk is a great idea since you will have the most amount of traffic and the least amount of light.

If you have any specific questions, leave them in the comments.

-Tim