Working with Long Exposures

Because the EOS 40D produces such good images at longer exposures, and there are so many creative things you can do with long-exposure techniques, you'll want to do some experimenting. Get yourself a tripod or another firm support and take some test shots with long exposure noise reduction both enabled and disabled (to see whether you prefer low noise or high detail) and get started. Here are some things to try:

■ Make people invisible. One very cool thing about long exposures is that objects that move rapidly enough won't register at all in a photograph, while the subjects that remain stationary are portrayed in the normal way. That makes it easy to produce people-free landscape photos and architectural photos at night or, even, in full daylight if you use a neutral density filter (or two) (or three) to allow an exposure of at least a few seconds. At ISO 100, f/22, and a pair of 8X (three-stop) neutral density filters you can use exposures of nearly two seconds; overcast days and/or even more neutral density filtration would work even better if daylight people-vanishing is your goal. They'll have to be walking very briskly and across the field of view (rather than directly toward the camera) for this to work. At night, it's much easier to achieve this effect with the 20- to 30-second exposures that are possible, as you can see in Figures 5.4 and 5.5.

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Figure 5.4

This alleyway is thronged with people, as you can see in this two-second exposure using only the available illumination.

Figure 5.5

With the camera still on a tripod, a 30-second exposure rendered the passersby almost invisible.

Figure 5.5

With the camera still on a tripod, a 30-second exposure rendered the passersby almost invisible.

■ Create streaks. If you aren't shooting for total invisibility, long exposures with the camera on a tripod can produce some interesting streaky effects. Even a single 8X ND filter will let you shoot at f/22 and 1/6th second in daylight, giving you results as shown in Figure 5.6.

Long Exposures Movement
Figure 5.6 The busses passing by this public square moved quickly enough to be shown only as a blur at 1/6th second in this tripod-mounted shot in full daylight, with an 8X neutral density filter allowing the long exposure.

■ Produce light trails. At night, car headlights and taillights and other moving sources of illumination can generate interesting light trails, as shown in Figure 5-7- Your camera doesn't even need to be mounted on a tripod; handholding the 40D for longer exposures adds movement and patterns to your trails- If you're shooting fireworks, a longer exposure may allow you to combine several bursts into one picture-

■ Blur waterfalls, etc. You'll find that waterfalls and other sources of moving liquid produce a special type of long-exposure blur, because the water merges into a fantasy-like veil that looks different at different exposure times, and with different waterfalls- Cascades with turbulent flow produce a rougher look at a given longer exposure than falls that flow smoothly- Although blurred waterfalls have become almost a cliché, there are still plenty of variations for a creative photographer to explore.

Figure 5.7 Long exposures can transform the most mundane nighttime subjects, such as this amusement park ride, into an interesting light-trails display.

■ Show total darkness in new ways. Even on the darkest, moonless nights, there is enough starlight or glow from distant illumination sources to see by, and, if you use a long exposure, there is enough light to take a picture, too. I was visiting a lakeside park after dark and saw that the dim light from the lamps in the parking lot provided sufficient light to see a distant stand of trees. A 30-second exposure with the lens almost wide open revealed the scene shown in Figure 5.8, even though in real life, there was barely enough light to make out the closest tree. Although the photo appears as if it were taken at twilight or sunset, in fact the shot was made at 11 p.m. It was a new moon that night, so the main illumination was starlight, spill light from the parking lot, and a distant city (which added a sunset-like effect to the sky at the horizon that shows at the far side of the lake).

Canon 5dmk3 Long Exposure
Figure 5.8 A 30-second exposure on a dark night revealed this lakeside setting, illuminated only by starlight, spill light from a parking lot adjacent to the shore, and distant city lights.

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100 Photography Tips

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