January Photo Challenge – Long Exposure

Whilst many brought in the New Year looking back on the events of the last year, considering new opportunities for the year ahead or so inebriated that they didn’t even know what they were celebrating, I instead was eagerly awaiting the 1st of January to find out my first randomly selected photo challange of 2015. The decision to set monthly challenges was outlined in my last post of 2014.

In the past, I have usually thought about experimenting with certain photographic techniques or genres to varying degrees of success.  Therefore, this year, forcing myself to dedicate some of my time to specific areas (I hope) will be a worthy challenge.

January’s challenge was long exposures. So back to New Year’s Day at 12:25am, I lay awake in bed thinking about what long exposure images could be created (yes that’s my life). I took the decision to define a long exposure as being more than 0.5 seconds. To my surprise, many ideas came to mind – night photography, light painting, traffic, motion. Previously, I had not considered how many different types of photography could be applied to long exposures, my first 2015 photo challenge looked promising.

The following is the difference between a photograph of a stream taken with short shutter speed (1/80th of a second) and a long shutter speed (6 seconds). To achieve this effect, I used a ND filter to ‘stop down’ the light, as a result.  As an example, if I halved the amount of light, an exposure time could be doubled to achieve the same exposure.

Water captured at 1/80 second

Water captured at 1/80 second

Water at 6 seconds

Water captured at 6 seconds

The first few days days passed filled with enthusiasm yet without any solid ideas being converted into practice.  However, throughout the month, I took the time to dedicate to this project.  It started with a cold winter’s night when I ventured out to get some star trails.  I have taken star trail photos before but I wanted to include a foreground element, being the farm, which I believe provides depth and a sense of scale.

 

Star trails at the farm

Star trails at the farm

 

I subsequently thought of applying long exposures to types of photography I would not usually consider, for example taking photos of the animals.  These photos do not have any artistic explanation, I just thought it may be interesting to capture the static elements of the frame of the stable or the ground yet allow the animals to show their natural motion.

Donkeys

Donkeys

 

Geese

Geese

 

There is a location in Glasgow I have longed to photograph at night with a long exposure to show the traffic but I have yet to do so.  However, after another January snow shower, I embarked on attempting to get some car light trails and am quite happy I managed to do so.  For this image, the street lights gave of an unpleasant yellow cast, so in post production I decreased the saturation in the yellow colour channel to remove the distracting element from the image.

Motorway long exposure

Motorway at night

 

Lastly, on the 31st of January, I headed to a local stream in Dumfries to take some long exposure shots of the water.  Waterfalls and streams are commonly photographed using a long exposures because it turns the rough ripples in the water into a smooth glass like substance which looks ascetically pleasing.

Stream Long Exposure

Stream Long Exposure

Stream long exposure

Stream long exposure

 

So as a first challenge, I think I did alright but lets hope I kick it up a gear for the next challenge which is birds… a genre of photography I have limited experience and of course the success will be mainly dictated by the little creatures and my patience.