Monthly Archives May 2021

The Surreal World of Long Exposure

Imagine…

How do you shoot something that hasn’t quite happened yet… or convey a sense of motion through your photography? Is it possible to capture a sense of time passing? How do you move past the snapshot into the realm of the surreal?

These are all things close to my heart and are questions I like to answer through my photography. I love to demonstrate what happens over time, whether it is a fraction of a second or several minutes or more. Yes, you guessed it, this is one of my favorite approaches to taking pictures! I visualize what may happen, most often I’m on target, and sometimes not quite, but the pursuit of what I imagine is exciting to me. 

About 45 minutes before sunrise, a 5 minute long exposure softly blurs clouds and water. Although pitch dark, the lifeguard stand is illuminated over time.

Through experience, I generally know what will happen when I shoot Atlantic Coast seascapes if I begin to shoot about an hour before sunrise. I may be lucky enough to capture a few stars, smooth the waves of the ocean, and stretch the clouds across the sky. It’s a familiar approach for me. I’ll often reach for the same camera, lens, and settings, varying my ISO to suit the composition.

I’m always surprised at how different each composition looks. Depending on cloud cover, weather, surf conditions, and moon phase, every shot is unique! Starting early gives me the opportunity to see what conditions may be like at sunrise and I truly enjoy being the first person on the beach.

If I’m shooting a San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge dawn shot, I will be the first person there, waiting for the first hint light while the rest of the city wakes up. The best light often occurs 45 minutes before sunrise. I love what happens with an exposure of 30 seconds or more. Watery reflections are smoothed out, and become almost magical, and clouds appear painted across the sky. 

A San Francisco dawn light up with vibrant color well before sunrise.

During sunrise, the light can be powerful and dramatic! It can also be a challenge to work with. At this point, I may reach the limits of my camera and lens, and I may need to use a graduated neutral density filter to help control the light. I love these creative controls. They’re like a paintbrush for the artist.

As I place a reverse graduated neutral density filter on the lens of my camera, the light is tamed, balanced, and the composition becomes more of what I envisioned. Taking the next step, I will use a solid neutral density filter to extend shutter speed. This takes my photography to next level, beyond the snapshot, into the surreal work of art.

Sunrise over a rocky beach in South Florida. My goal is to convey a sense of motion with the wave action.

The harsh light of mid-day gives me the opportunity and challenge to extend exposures in the 4-6 minute range. This makes for fascinating work in the world of long exposures. I use a 15-stop neutral density filter to create a shutter speed that will illustrate what transpires over time. With patience and practice, clouds can appear to be feather painted through the sky, water is blurred, and a surreal and unique photograph can be created.

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Hi all! Dave Williams here again for another #TravelTuesday on Scott’s blog, and today, I’ll push myself to inspire you a little with summer right around the corner. As we approach the summer, here are some awesome ideas for things to photograph: –

It goes without saying that at the top of my list is sunrises. After all, it is my absolute favourite time to shoot. Sunrise totally beats sunset, as I’ve said countless times before. That said, sunset is also a great time to shoot. With the restrictions imposed owing to COVID being gradually lifted around the world, we can now begin to carefully and responsibly travel again, so shooting a sunrise or sunset with a gorgeous summer tone is now back on the table. Making the most of golden hour in the summer months can result in us getting some excellent images for our portfolio, or even just for practice. In the summer months, the glare of the daytime sun can be overwhelming and our images will feature a lot more contrast than in winter or in the shoulder seasons, so on some days the start and end of the day can be the only time to shoot a decent photo.

Still with COVID in mind, we can step things up a gear by introducing a model to the scene. Taking steps to keep everyone safe and compliant with local regulations, adding a model, and shooting a portrait at golden hour can add an element of humanity to our images. Perhaps this may even be the first time many of us have photographed a person in over a year, so it would be well worth doing. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if we use a TFP model, it may well be their first shoot in just as long. Any additions to experience or portfolios are always worth the effort for all concerned.

After such a long time with the world restricted by so many rules and regulations, particularly restricting us with regard to travel photography and meeting people, it looks as though this summer may be the time for us to start resuming to a state of normality. 

I, for one, will be heading out as often as I can to get back in gear, and with regard to the easing of international travel to and from my base here in the UK, I’ve made plans to get some trips under my belt to rack up my mileage. 

Much love

Dave

PROGRAMMING ALERT: I’m the guest this week on Steve Brazill’s highly acclaimed “Behind The Shot” podcast, and we’re talking about composition, timeless photos, and all sorts of fun photo photography stuff. If you’ve got a sec, I’d love it if you checked it out. Here’s the link but I also embedded it below (and a big thanks to Steve for having me on again. Truly an honor.

OK, onto this “Photoshop Tip Friday!

This is a super-handy selection tip for selecting something that seems like it should be really simple…and it is, once you learn this tip. Check it out:

Pretty handy, right?

If you’re new to Photoshop, this online course can really help

We just released one of my new classes, and this is one expressly for Photoshop beginners. Check out the official trailer below (it’s short).

Here’s a link to the course — you can watch it right now (if you’re not a member, you can unlock this course for just $29).

Thanks for stopping by. Have a rockin’ weekend, everybody!!! :)

-Scott

P.S. The Outdoor Photography Conference is almost here — coming May 18 & 19, 2021. It’s two full-days, two simultaneous training tracks, all online, and super affordable and features one of the greatest teams of instructors we’ve ever assembled. It’s going to an incredible event —  Here’s the link for tickets and info.

Avoid Misconceptions Learning Photography with Guest Mark Silber | The Grid Ep. 470

This week Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna are joined by photographer Marc Silber to talk about common misconceptions about learning photography! Marc brings years of experience as a photographer and educator to the discussion as he, Scott, and Erik hit these ideas head on and help beginners with their advice.


New KelbyOne Course: Photoshop for Beginners with Scott Kelby

If you’re new to Photoshop then this is the class for you! Join Scott Kelby as he takes you through the 12 essential techniques and concepts that you need to know to get started using Photoshop. Once you’ve got these under your belt you’ll be ready to head off into any Photoshop direction you choose.

In this class you’ll learn the essentials for opening and navigating around photos, using panels, using the most common tools, making selections, removing things from Photoshop, using brushes, using filters, and much more. These are exactly the techniques Scott would tell a friend to get them up and running with the most powerful image editor ever created, and by the end of the class you’ll feel confident to start diving deeper into more advanced techniques.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an underwater photographer? Imagine sitting on a boat, putting on this heavy gear (40-50 pounds) and then, after you giant stride into the water…. you’re weightless!

Actually, more than that, you’re floating (“wait, what?”), yep, floating. You get your camera rig handed to you from the boat, hook up with your buddy, let a little bit of air out of your BCD and descend, weightlessly gliding through the water in search of adventure, from the smallest sea critters to the largest pelagic predators, maybe even spotting a wreck!

You may be thinking “very cool, but how do I get there?”


Well, you have to start by being comfortable in the water – which takes education and practice – because when you are shooting on land, you don’t have to worry about breathing, but underwater, there is no air except what you bring with you.  Even the best swimmers can always use practice and improvement; though I grew up freediving and spearfishing, I recently took a freediving class just to hone those skills even more.

Depending on what type of underwater photography you want to do, if it’s in a pool or other shallow water or you’re looking for large pelagics like dolphins and whales you don’t need SCUBA – you can simply take a freedive course to learn how to handle that environment, but don’t neglect a water-based first-aid course to keep yourself and others safe.

Now you’re feeling good and your comfortable in the water, how do I get my camera in there with out ruining it? There are several answers anywhere from a $50 plastic bag off Amazon that I would advise against, up to a pro level DSLR with an aluminum underwater housing and strobes that would run you the price of a small car.

But let’s start with something that is good and won’t break the bank, if you are planning on just working in your pool or in the shallow waters of a spring or river (Less than 33 ft.), Outex makes a great solution around $400. If you are looking for something a little more robust like a surf housing from AquaTech you will be between $1000 and $1500. The pinnacle will be a full dive housing that’s rated to depths from 60 meters or more; like Ikelites ABS-PC housing going for $1600 up to a fully machined aluminum housing like the one from Seacam for $5000 and that’s just for the base housing no ports or lights.

This is all assuming you know the camera you want to use, which is a topic in and of itself because the optics underwater are more different than on land and what makes a great land lens might make it a poor underwater lens.

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