30 Second Exposures

I took my new neutral density filter to a couple of places around town today in the hopes of pulling off at least one decent 30 second exposure. The first stop was Forrest Lake. Of course, the sun was barely out and the water was fogged over. I gave it a shot anyway.

First I used the auto focus to focus in on a shot, then I turned the manual focus on so that the camera wouldn’t try to refocus when I took the shot. Next, I went into shutter priority and set it for the longest time possible, 30 seconds. If I had a remote shutter release I could leave it open longer, but I don’t so I can’t. Then I put on the filter. I was using the live view function on my Nikon D90 so I could clearly see that barely any light was getting through. Then I set the shutter delay to the lowest setting I know how to get, 10 seconds. That way I wouldn’t shake the camera when I pushed the shutter release.

Photographers, did I do that right? Should I have done anything different?

Here goes. I will try to post a shot without the filter in auto mode, and then one with the filter in shutter priority. The colors at the lake came out… weird on the long exposures. See for yourself.

The shutter speed on this one is 0.008 seconds.
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The shutter speed on this one is 30 seconds, and it uses the filter. See what I mean about the colors?
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You can see the effect of the long exposure on the water, but the water was calm enough this morning that it didn’t make that much of a difference to me. Here are some more…

I don’t have a before picture for this one. All you get is the 30 second shot.
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The guy fishing by the beach (which was closed. I was on the boat launch) was the only other person in sight. I should just junk this one, the 30 second shot looks like the camera moved a bit. Nothing on the ground is in focus. Crap. I wanted to see what the effect of having a mostly stationary person in the shot would do. I still don’t really know.
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This one looks better, but you sort of lose the fog.
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I also took a boat load of plain old ordinary auto mode pics as well as this was the first time I had my Nikon with me at Forrest Lake. You’ll see those in a future post.

Now we move on to the Spicket Falls Dam. I love this place. This dam is literally why I wanted to buy this stupid little filter in the first place. The results were… okay I guess. I probably threw things off myself. I have a gorilla pod, which is a little bendable tripod thingie. I had the camera on it for all of these pics, but at the dam it was standing on a not-so-wide cement wall that seriously scared the hell out of me. I envisioned the whole kit just dropping off the side into the river where I would never be able to get to them. I ended up holding onto the shoulder strap for dear life while the shutter was open. I probably shook things up.

First we see the dam without the filter.
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Now we see a couple of 30 second snaps.
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Not so bad. The second one seems a little too fuzzy, but the first one isn’t a disaster. Like I said, I was really nervous about the camera sitting on the wall, so I was probably moving things around too much and throwing off the focus. Still, it’s not bad for my first day, right?

The next couple were also taken from the cement wall, but they were points down stream from the damn. The water was moving pretty fast here, and the effects are pretty dramatic in comparison to everything I’ve shown so far.
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Look at the little chunk of cement jutting out on the right side of that picture. It’s not perfectly focused, but it’s close. Now this is what I had in mind when I bought this little thing!

Here’s another spot on the river, just before it turns and goes under Osgood Street. This has a little more of the river bank, so the effect seems even more drastic to me.
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This is the best one so far, by far. The tree and the bank looks pretty clear. I like this one.
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Next I followed the river walk across the road to a spot where you can get down to the water itself. I have only done this in the fall or early spring, so I wasn’t quite ready for the amount of plant growth, but I toughed it out. In this case the camera was on the gorilla pod, which was sitting on a tree stump. This worked the best, although I was still terrified of having the camera fall off.

I don’t think I actually took this while setting the focus. The rocks on the other side are clear, but the branch on my side of the river isn’t.
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Now check out this bad boy. Both sides of the river are in focus, but the water is silky smooth happiness.
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I didn’t set this one up at all. By this point I had reached the camera-falling-off-the-log panic threshold, so I just turned it to a different spot and clicked. It came out better than most of the other pictures.
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So there you have it. My first foray into long exposures in the daytime. I wonder if this thing will solve the problem of moon pics too. When I point the camera at the moon I get a nice night sky with this great big overexposed blotch where the moon is supposed to be. I wonder if I put the filter on and just snap a few, will the moon look okay? Something else to try!

I almost feel like someone who knows what he’s doing (even though I clearly do not)!

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