I’m on a “long exposure” kick these days, looking for moving subjects like bubbling brooks and wind-blown grasses and paddling Canada geese. If the camera’s shutter is left open a little (or a lot) longer than the time necessary to freeze the action, the targets become a dreamy, soft blur in the resulting photo. I think what I like best about this technique is that the final picture is often a pleasant and interesting surprise. Our eyes don’t see this way, but the camera can record accumulated time.
More to come…
“The long exposure does something that our eyes cannot do, it can accumulate time,” says photographer Michael Kenna. I love his dreamy black-and-white landscapes, in which waters and skies appear smooth as silk. And I love the idea of capturing moments of consecutive time, stacked together in one image.
Well, I’ll need some more practice before I can create any ethereal landscapes, but in the meantime, these photos are the results of a little experimentation closer to home (at my dining room table), requiring only a decorative trinket, a slowed shutter speed, and some patience.
We’re often so concerned about sharpness in images – the crispness and clarity of frozen time – but I think there’s something so pretty and painterly about motion being rendered as soft streaks of woven light.
When you’re tired of making the same old photos of your garden blooms, try this: manually zoom your lens during a long exposure (shutter speed here was one second) to capture your flower more unconventionally. In this shot of a coreopsis, the blooms surrounding the main one are rendered as ghostly streaks of colour.
I had some help from Lightroom to crop the image and darken sections to minimize distractions like the leaves and the detail in the soil.
Making this radiating effect in a photo was pretty fun. I think I’ll try it on some other kinds of subjects – food, toys, vehicles… maybe even a face, if I can get one of my cats/kids to hold still long enough (the exposure time was one whole second, so I may have to wait until they’re asleep).
One of the fun things about photography is that when you’re in an abstract and painterly mood, you can make just about anything into a sweeping blend of lines and colours.
The subject here is Japanese Blood Grass, a pretty ornamental in my garden that’s green at the base and crimson at the tips. I got in close and tilted the camera vertically during a two-second exposure time.
No paint required.