Waterfall Long Exposure

Technical: Canon EOS 7D 20 sec, f10, ISO 200, focal length 29mm

There’s a big difference in this exposure. Cousin David has gone to a long exposure of 20 sec. While the shadows are a bit dark, the emphasis is upon the water, which has a smooth silky texture. The viewer’s eye is immediately drawn to the water. The relative brightness of the water draws the eye to look at it. The tree to the left is not bad and balances with the highlights of the stone marker. This image flows (pun) much better.


Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 1/4 sec, f10, ISO 800, focal length 126mm, no flash

This is great! ¼ sec and must be that it was with a tripod. The ISO was 800. You could have shot with a faster shutter speed? Or you could use a slower speed and lower ISO. The glass and the reflection selectively focus upon the woman’s head. It’s a great example of selective focus and how to get there tastefully. Here, I might have squared up the composition. But you could easily crop for this. Then again, it really doesn’t need any help. Now that I have looked again, those are pedestrians passing that make the reflection. This was a really neat image capture.

Christmas Tree Zoom


Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 5 sec, f 16, ISO 200, focal length 18mm

This a time exposure using the camera zoom and a tripod. The final zoom is 18mm. Starting at a more telephoto zoom, the shutter was released and the zoom was widened to 18mm. The lights appear to converge. It’s a nice effect. I’d like to see a reverse, starting wide and going to telephoto. Would the final tree image be larger? It’s a very nice technical shot. I’ve got to try this myself. Manny used it this past summer on fireworks.

Fireworks on the fly

Technical: Nikon D200, ½ sec, f5.3, focal length 120

An unscheduled fireworks show broke out the other night. I shot fireworks by hand holding the camera. Actually at ½ sec exposure, I used the fence and braced myself. At some point I will post a better fireworks image. Fireworks are bright so when I was younger, I used a shutter speed of 1/60 or thereabouts. Then someone told me that long exposures would give long trails to the fireworks. This would mean tripod and several seconds for shutter speed. I have varied and used as much as 10 sec. But I didn’t have a chance to set up a tripod. So I stood braced, feet apart and the camera steadied on the fence. Not too shabby.

Two more long exposures

Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 30 sec, manual, f16 ISO 400, 60mm focal length, no flash

Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 30 sec, manual, f18 ISO 400, 60mm focal length, no flash

I am impressed. Initially, I didn’t  look in the metadata for exposure information and David hadn’t told me. A quick email and he responded that this was an experiment in low incandescent light.

His long exposures test the limits of the camera sensor. Ordinarily with film, long exposures will result in image degradation and color shift. Digital sensors are also subject to changes when taken beyond the ordinary parameters. In both cases the terms often used are grain or noise.

For purists this is a topic of agonizing discussion. Sharpness, image color fidelity and so forth can consume you. Fear of dust may also paralyze you. It used to be dust on your film. Now it’s dust on your sensor. With few exceptions this is reasonably easy to handle. But, I digress.

Here it appears that the grain/noise is acceptable. The sensor did well on such long exposures. I don’t have the original art for comparison, but I find the digital captures David made to be very nice indeed.

Vase – long exposure

Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 30 sec, manual, f16 ISO 400, 60mm focal length, no flash

This is a photo by cousin David. This image was taken shortly after the return of his camera from being repaired. Everyone’s nightmare is to attempt to service one’s gear and have it all go wrong.

My daughter’s Texas friend visited and her point and shoot wouldn’t open up and let the zoom lens advance. I took the camera apart on the kitchen table. After removing a series of tiny screws, I got the mechanism to work again. Hurray! One small problem – after assembling the camera, there was one small screw that remained on the table. The camera worked fine; there was just this one screw. I heard later that she bought a new camera.

David’s image of this plate was shot at 30 sec according to the metadata. This long exposure brings a few things to mind. The background is black suggesting that he considered this before he made the shot. The detail is tack sharp indicating use of a tripod. The hole in the middle of the plate is dark. I assume it’s a hole as I can’t derive any detail. The composition is pleasing. There are enough elements to lead the eye around the image. Then I got the email from David that this was a vase. Hmmm… think in 3D.

I discuss image size and noise with the image below (leaf bud).

Leaf bud

Technical: Canon EOS 7D, .3 sec, manual, f?, ISO 400, 50mm focal length, no flash

On the subject of image capture, size is a question. The image sent to me was 7.6 mb. There is a setting on DSLR cameras for RAW or large jpeg files. RAW files are larger than a jpeg capture. The data is like a film negative, which the digital camera computer processes into a jpeg file of smaller size. If you are satisfied to let the camera’s image processing software do it’s magic, then you get many more images on a memory card. Otherwise the RAW file takes up a lot of memory on the computer hard drive as well. There are many opinions about whether to shoot RAW files. There are advantages in post processing options such as tweaking color balance and salvaging information in underexposed areas.

With a large image capture file, you have another advantage – the ability to enlarge the image. In the second image I enlarged the image to show detail. There is no grain/noise to be seen. The fine detailed hairs are sharp.

The image was shot on a tripod. And here is an example advantage of stabilizing the camera. The finest details are preserved. Of course if there is a breeze and the plant is moving, detail would be lost on a long exposure. The rule for handheld image is 1/focal length. Therefore, if the focal length is 50 mm the longest handheld exposure would be 1/50. It’s just a guideline.

At ISO 400 this image shows hardly any grain or noise as it’s called these days. Noise is the consequence of being able to image in near darkness. The sensor gives up some detail in the capture. Looking at the plate there is hardly any noise in the black center. The detail holds at high magnification.

These are some of the choices to keep in mind when adjusting your settings.

Eclipse of the Moon

Technical: Nikon D200, 1/500 sec, f9, manual, ISO 1600, focal length 400, tripod

Nikon D200, .8 sec, f9, manual, ISO 1600, focal length 1600, tripod

The moon is often a compositional element in an image. When it is the primary object of interest, there are caveats. First, the moon is a very bright object in the sky. The light source is a very familiar bright object, the sun. That means the exposure is greatly different from the ambient light of dusk or night. One of the best times to shoot the moon is at dusk when there is still ambient red orange glow before the sun goes down, the so called ‘golden hour.’ From the settings you can see that the moon is very bright. I generally set my camera to ISO auto, a mistake here. The camera tried to compensate for the overall dark background. The ISO was 1600. I used a tripod. You can’t effectively hand hold at .8 second exposure. The lens was at 400mm focal length. Even here the moon only fills a small part of the frame. A proper exposure will show some detail on the moon’s surface. It’s not everyday that one has an eclipse of the moon. The weather conditions, clouds, and ambient city lights are all in play.