Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Stopping Time - Part 2

Back in November I wrote about using my Lee Big Stopper neutral density filter for the first time. I was in Scotland at the time and tried it out at dawn, the low light resulting in a 16 minute exposure. Although the outcome was very pleasing, it was clear that a scene with more movement in it would probably make for more dramatic effects. It was December before I was able to put this to the test. Following an enjoyable morning in Snowdonia, I headed over to Anglesey and Penmon point having first consulted the tide tables to establish that the tide would be on the way in towards sunset.

It was mid afternoon when I arrived so the light was much brighter than my previous dawn effort. The image above was made with a 30 second exposure but even at that speed you can clearly see the effect, with the sea being slightly smoothed out and movement evident in the clouds.

The next two images were made with a 60 second exposure and the smoothing effect is more pronounced. The nice thing about the scene above is that this has meant that some of the colour from the cloud is reflected on the surface of the water - this would be less visible if the photograph had been taken at a more 'normal' shutter speed.

The more intimate scene below shows the misty effect you can get. It is also worth noting that the filter does create a blue cast which was very pronounced on this particular image. Of course, it is easily corrected by tweaking the colour temperature but, in some cases, the blue cast may be preferable.

In the picture below, we are up to 90 seconds exposure and another warning: I was watching the water getting closer and closer while I waited for the exposure to be completed. I was fairly comfortable on this occasion but it did occur to me that, had I been working with an exposure of 8 minutes or more, my equipment might have been in peril (I was wearing wellies).

Finally, below, one of the last exposures I made (I decided the prospects for sunset were poor and packed up to head home - fortunately, I was right). This is 120 seconds and, although subtle, you can see a difference to the picture above; there is slightly less definition in the surface of the sea. This raises a point - if you compose a photograph with a large expanse of water and use too long an exposure, you run the risk of having a large featureless expanse in the picture. Here the rocks break that up to some extent.

In conclusion: Lots more practising to do yet but I am enjoying experimenting with the filter and like the options it gives me.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Featured Photograph for January

My featured photograph this month is from January 2010, the last time we had any sort of significant snowfall in these parts. It is a photograph of Helsby Hill although probably not a view many would recognise. I had to go off the beaten track for it and I think I like it all the more for it not being an obvious viewpoint. It also demonstrates the benefit of going out while it is still snowing; by the time I reached this spot, the snow had only just stopped and the clouds were beginning to break up. Much later and, not only would the sky have been far less interesting, the direct sunlight would have made the scene much harder to photograph.

I do hope we get some of the white stuff this winter but the signs are not great at the moment so, for now, I have only the photographs and the memories they stimulate.

Prints available from my website: