We decided to take a short hike up to Crystal Falls (in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) today since we had a rare sunny November day off. As I’ve been doing somewhat regularly in my leisure time, I loaded up with a camera, tripod, and circular polarizer. I though it would be cool to do a long exposure of the falls. We hit a couple of geo caches along the way and by the time we got to the falls we were actually losing light really fast. In fact, we were only halfway back to the trailhead by the time we had to pull out our iPhones to light the way.
I still tried to make the best of the situation by utilizing the low light and the polarizer to get down to a 15 second exposure at f16 ISO 200. I got one workable frame, but since we were working so fast so that we could get out while it was light, I didn’t minimize vibrations on the tripod as much as I could have. As a result I had to do a lot of sharpening in photoshop to get the good enough image in the post.
Tip: When I shoot long exposures without a release cable, I set the camera to delay mode – usually 2 seconds. That way the camera stops moving by the time the shutter opens for the exposure. On some Nikons you can even have it wait for a moment after it locks up the mirror. Anyways, because I had the camera as high as it could go on the tripod it was moving around more than usual. I should have set the wait on mirror lockup and changed the delay to 10 seconds so that the camera would have it’s movement minimized while doing the long exposure.
If you spend the time and get it right, the resulting silky smooth ghosting water effect is really rewarding. One more thing that I haven’t mentioned: if it is really bright out, you may have a hard time getting a long exposure that isn’t completely blown out. To adjust for this, you need a neutral density filter of some kind. Good ND filters are expensive, but if you like the long exposure effect, they are a must. For beginners, if you already have a circular polarizer and you want to start experimenting, you are already cutting at least 1 stop of light when you are fully polarizing the light coming into your camera.