9 Ways to Create Dreamy Long Exposures

By Dawn Black

Depending on who you speak to or which forum you frequent, long exposure photography can be defined as anything longer than half a second to more than 30 seconds and into minutes or even hours. The effects that you will achieve with longer exposure times will all depend on the speed of the moving elements within the frame and, like everything in photography, there are no hard and fast rules. When creating a long exposure image all the usual considerations of composition and light apply but we add in the element of time. We will create an image that the eye itself cannot see and this requires some vision. Whether you want to record dynamic moving clouds, swirling waters, to record or even eliminate moving people in a busy place, shoot light trails or go completely minimalistic, the possibilities are there for us. Personally, I use long exposure in my landscape work.

In order to create long exposures you need to practice and perfect your technique. Here are some considerations you should think about:

1. Carry your tripod everywhere

A tripod is a must. In long exposure photography, be it light painting, light trails or long exposure in landscapes, the shutter is open for more than a second so it is imperative that you have the ability to keep the camera absolutely still.

Vortex, Europoort
Fujifilm X-T2 + XF50-140mm @ 74mm | ISO 200, f/5.6, 8 secs with Lee Big Stopper

Continue reading 9 Ways to Create Dreamy Long Exposures

Have a little patience – a guide to successful long exposure images

1

X-Photographer strip BLACK

By Paul Sanders

paul-sandersFor me personally, long exposure (LE) photography allows me to explore a sense of calm, a visual relaxation that matches the way I feel when I look at the landscape. But for some, the technical side of this style of photography makes it incredibly frustrating and stressful.

Before we get into the technical side of LE photography and counting exposure increase on our fingers and toes, there is something that is far more important than the technical issues. It is vision, interpretation and connection with your subject.

Ansel Adams said “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

Continue reading Have a little patience – a guide to successful long exposure images

How to capture an atmospheric Autumn

20151012_clumber_0119-edit-2

X-Photographer strip BLACK

By Chris Upton

Halloween, the time of ghosts, ghouls and bewitching conditions to create wonderful atmospheric autumnal images!

After a few summer months of long, warm days, harsh light and of course some rain (I am in the UK!) we are longing for misty mornings, low raking light and sunrise and sunset at sensible times of day. For many photographers, especially landscapers, autumn is simply the best time of the year.

So how do we make the most of these opportunities and capture some stunning images?

20160325_notts_0091

THE WEATHER

Well it all starts with the planning and we’ll begin with the weather. Keep an eye on the forecast and if you’re looking for a misty start ideally you need cool temperatures after a period of wet, mild weather with little or no wind. Check the sunrise time and be prepared to be on location at least 30 mins prior. When the sun pops up it starts to warm up the landscape and gradually burns off the mist. Depending upon the amount of mist it may take a while to clear so you may have an hour or more to capture your shots.

20150906_slovenia_0125-edit-edit

I use BBC Weather, Met Office and WeatherPro apps to check the forecast though it’s not foolproof and the conditions might not turn out as you were hoping for. In those circumstances it’s important to keep a positive view and think about the things you can shoot.

This was the case recently when I went down to the River Trent for what I hoped would be a misty sunrise. When I arrived it was thick mist and even when the sun came up it didn’t burn off. Walking along the bank I noticed the leaf, grass and reed details and decided to shoot some high key images. So although I didn’t get what I had expected I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

Whilst strong sunlight is best early and late, during the day bright overcast conditions with its soft lighting will enable you to capture the beautiful autumn colours without harsh shadows and excessive contrast. Take care to avoid large areas of bland blue or grey sky which add nothing to the image.

In certain circumstances the weather can be especially challenging. However “every cloud ….…” The fact is that “bad weather” can provide you with great opportunities to capture some unique shots as many photographers don’t venture out in inclement conditions. The benefit of much of the Fujifilm equipment is that it’s weather sealed (check yours) so as long as you can keep the front element dry you’re good to go! It’s a good idea to have an umbrella handy, though the ability to grow another hand would be extremely useful too! I recommend the Gustbuster umbrella which is large, robust and is tested to withstand winds of 55mph.

These next few shots were taken on an extremely challenging day in the Lake District. It was pouring with rain, visibility was poor and light levels were low. Despite sheltering under a large umbrella that flipped inside out twice (hence the Gustbuster purchase) it felt like a contest between me and the elements and I was determined to get some pictures.

20151111_lakes_0839-edit

This shot was also taken in pouring rain. The soft, diffused light and low contrast really suited a long exposure and providing you meter carefully to retain detail in the highlights you can get super images in these conditions.

20160423_cinque_1223-edit

EARLY & LATE

Usually the best times to shoot atmospheric landscapes is at the beginning and end of the day, that magical period when the sun is rising or setting but is still below the horizon giving a soft, warm light.

Mornings take more effort and you have to walk to your location in the dark but there are fewer people around and there is something special about witnessing the start of a new day especially when the conditions are just right. Plan to be at your location at least 45 minutes before sunrise. If you want to get a starburst effect as the sun pops over the horizon shoot at f16 or f22 but make sure your front element or filters are clean!

For sunset ensure you stay until at least 30 minutes after the sun has gone down because that’s the time when the sky is backlit with, hopefully, an amazing display of colour.

20160911_tallinn_0888-edit

20160930_nottm_0026-edit

Another benefit of shooting early or late is that usually the wind drops at these times enabling you to capture lovely reflections.

20151031_notts_0117-edit

The blue hour is a great time for city shots but don’t stop then because city streets late at night can provide many other opportunities especially when it’s wet and the pavements reflect the vibrant artificial lights. Try converting to black and white to give a colder, more intimidating feel to the image.

LOCATION, LOCATION

Great autumn shots can be had all around the country in local parks, woods and by the rivers. However, in the UK, there are a few stunning locations such as Perthshire, Lake District, Thorp Perrow N. Yorks, Peak District, Clumber Park, Westonbirt Arboretum, Ashridge forest, and Stowe.

Rivers, canals, lakes and marshes all offer great potential for atmospheric misty shots. Look for some added interest like boats, jetties or rocks to aid your composition.

20161010_trent_0023-edit

Fields heavy with morning dew also produce mist. Add backlit trees and you have the recipe for some stunning pictures. Think about your viewpoint, try and find an elevated view so that you are above the mist.

Other great places for spooky, ethereal shots are graveyards!

Here are a couple of images I took in Edinburgh using the multiple exposure feature on my X-T1. When you set the drive dial to ME you shoot the first image as normal and the screen will then show you the image and ask if you are happy with it. If you are you get a faint overlay of your original image to help you superimpose with the second. Take that shot and your combined image shows on your screen. However if you’re not happy with the second shot you can delete that one, keeping the first, and then reshoot.

In these shots I took one image of the row of grave stones then the second shot was a close up of the inscription from one of the stones. If you’ve not tried this give it a go you can get some great effects!

20140805_edinburgh_0145-edit

20140805_edinburgh_0147

Why not also try the Advanced Modes for achieving some creative pictures? Many photographers bypass these but I would urge you to give them a try, the high key or soft focus mode are especially good for misty shots.

Of course the colour at this time of year can be amazing and forests and woods can provide countless opportunities with shafts of early morning light streaming through the trees illuminating the forest floor or feathering the light across branches laden with morning dew. Keep to the edges of the woods to get the best effects.

EQUIPMENT

The choice of lens can also have a dramatic effect on your image. I find that this time of year is ideal for using a longer lens which I use to compress perspective or isolate detail. Perfect for enhancing a misty scene adding drama and intrigue to your shot.

As the light is low at this time of year or day ensure that you use your lens hood to cut out any unwanted flare and again make sure your lens and filters are spotless.

_dsf1641-edit-2

20150906_slovenia_0087-edit

You will be amazed at the difference a Polarising filter makes to your autumn pictures, reducing glare and increasing colour saturation. A circular polariser allows you to fine tune the effect but take care not to overdo it especially if you have blue skies in your picture.

Other filters that are useful are Neutral Density filters in 3, 6 or 10 stops to extend the exposure time and 2 and 3 stop Neutral Density Graduated filters to control the dynamic range in your picture, usually darkening the sky or areas of water.

20151101_notts_0333-edit-edit

TECHNIQUE

In order to achieve the best quality files I prefer to shoot at low ISO (usually 200) and for a landscape will select f8 or f11 unless I want to intentionally reduce the depth of field.

Depth of field (the area of the picture that is acceptably sharp in front and behind the point of focus) is determined by focal length, aperture and focus point.

With a small aperture eg f11 and a wide angle lens eg 14mm focusing at 1m everything will be sharp from 47cm to infinity. There are various DOF apps you can use on your smartphone to ensure accuracy. Alternatively you can simply focus ⅓ into the scene and check your EVF, zooming in to assess sharpness.

Using the AF joystick on the X-Pro2 and X-T2 makes focus point selection a breeze and it’s another favourite feature of mine. Trying to use AF in mist is challenging to most cameras so I recommend switching to Manual focus. There are several different manual focus aids on Fuji cameras, I prefer focus peaking and set my highlights to Red, white highlights in mist might prove a little tricky!

Low ISO and small apertures usually mean a longish shutter speed which makes a tripod an essential part of my kit. But there are many other benefits to using a tripod not least that it slows you down so that you can search the frame carefully and fine tune your composition. Using Neutral Density Graduated filters is also much easier when your camera is tripod mounted. That said there are many people who prefer the freedom of shooting handheld and are happy to use wider apertures or higher ISO’s. There really is no right or wrong as long as you capture the image you’re looking for.

Although I have a cable release I prefer to use the 2 second timer unless I am using B (Bulb mode) for long exposures or want to capture a specific point in time ie waves.

For metering I will use Evaluative or Spot depending on the subject and the style I am looking for. Be aware that mist will fool your camera into underexposing resulting in dull, grey images. You will need to use your exposure compensation to increase the exposure by by around 1 stop though this may vary depending on the amount of mist in the shot. The live histogram on your camera will help you ensure the correct exposure, aim to expose more to the right without clipping the highlights.

One of my favourite features on the X-Pro2 and X-T2 is the front exposure compensation dial which you rotate to deliver up to 5 stops more or less exposure, once you have set the top dial to “C”.

20150926_france_1758-edit

20150920_france_2015-edit-edit

As I shoot in RAW I leave my White Balance set to Auto and then fine tune later in Lightroom if required. That said I find that my Fujifilm cameras deliver excellent white balance on auto. Just be aware that with mist your images may look a little cool. So if you are shooting JPEGS try Daylight setting or, if you want to really warm up those rich autumnal colours try Cloudy. Your Fuji camera may allow you to auto bracket the WB, you get three different settings from the same image!

Finally don’t forget to prepare yourself for your autumn shoot. It’s essential to be comfortable when standing around for long periods in the cold allowing you to concentrate on the images rather than trying to keep warm. Boots or wellies (with decent soles), down jacket, hat and gloves are essentials as are a flask and some energy bars. Oh and if you’re venturing out into the great outdoors on your own make sure you tell someone where you’re going. Most of the best locations have no mobile signal!

So I hope that this has given you some inspiration to wrap up, get out shooting and make the most of the best time of the year!

20160529_notts_0004-pano-edit

To see more of Chris’ work visit his website www.chrisuptonphotography.com

24 Hours in Yosemite

X-Photographer strip BLACK

By Bryan Minear

As I sat on a plane bound for San Francisco, staring down some 40,000 feet to the clouds passing underneath me, excitement and anticipation filled my soul. It was the beginning of a journey – an epic adventure creating unique images and memories. I hoped that this pilgrimage with fellow photographers would live up to my expectations, and further inspire me to follow my dreams.bm_7After being awake for 30 hours, we arrived at dusk. On the way into Yosemite, we stopped off at tunnel view. It was my first glimpse of California that wasn’t being hidden away by the night. The rock faces lit up underneath a sea of endless stars. In that moment, it all felt like a dream. I was now experiencing this miraculous destination that I had experienced so many times before through someone else’s eyes. We spent an hour shooting before heading to drop off our bags and get settled in our condo. At 4:30 AM, we were off to glacier point to prepare for our first sunrise.bm_5I stared into the face of half dome, brilliant and gleaming in front of me. In some ways, I was taking a photo that millions of people had taken before me – but at the same time, I took pause to remember that the beauty of photography is that each moment captured is infinite and unique in its own way.bm_2The sun began to glow, and I was able to catch the last few stars in the sky over half dome.  My X-Pro2 clicked away on a timelapse and my X-T2 shifted in my hand as I tried to find my perfect composition. I was awaiting the shot that I was planning on taking since the trip’s inception.

“First light over half dome” is something that I had wanted to see for myself since I knew Yosemite existed. My lens of choice for the perfect capture was the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS. It gave me the versatility I needed to grab a few shots at various focal lengths in order to choose my shot in post.

After a short and much-needed nap, we ventured down into the valley to see the golden light as it passed over us. Fall color was in full swing and there was a slight chill to the air, only further enhancing the experience. We found a spot along the Merced River with a beautiful view of half dome reflected in the water. Along a nearby boardwalk, we took in Yosemite Falls as it towered above us. The falls were not supposed to be running at this time of year, but luckily, a storm passed through the night before we arrived, giving the falls a second wind.bm_6I framed up a shot with a 10-stop ND and 3-stop ND Grad to get some cloud and water movement. Shooting long exposures during the day is one of my favorite things to do because it gives me some time to enjoy the scene around me. Oftentimes I get so caught up in getting the shot that I don’t “see” things for myself. The photos are the best way to relive the moment, sure. But it’s equally as important to live in the moment and enjoy your surroundings.bm_4As the light started to drop in the sky, I shifted into creative mode trying to make the absolute most of the light that I have left. I set up another timelapse in front of the half dome with my X-Pro2, and with my X-T2 and XF16mmF1.4 R WR attached, I began walking around finding different compositions to maximize my last few moments.bm_1Over the course of the next few days I experienced close to all that Yosemite and the surrounding area had to offer: Taft Point, the 7,503 ft lookout point, Tioga Pass, and the desert-laden Eastern Sierras that lie just outside of Yosemite proper. The trip was full of friendship, laughter, and best of all, amazing scenes to photograph.

Banish camera shake with a stringpod

Tripods. They’re very useful when it comes to avoiding camera shake, but they can be quite bulky things to lug around – even the lighter carbon-fibre versions. But while Fujifilm have created impressive Optical Image Stabilisation systems in their lenses, there is a way of beating the shakes using nothing more than a piece of string and a tripod quick release plate. Better still, you can fit this set up in your pocket so you’ll never have an excuse for leaving it at home.

These are the constituent parts needed to create your stringpod. String (funnily enough), a tripod plate and a pair of scissors (unless you’ve got very strong teeth). I’ve used green garden twine largely because it’s easier to see in these pictures. Normal string does the job just fine.

DSCF0084Start by passing the string through the oval handle on the bottom of the quick release plate.

DSCF0090

Now, pull a double length of string out and place it under your foot. Don’t cut the string just yet, you’re just sizing up at this stage.

DSCF0093

With the string under your foot, hold the plate so the string is taut and make sure it’s at eye level. It’s worth screwing your camera on to the plate and repeating this process, varying the length of string as required until you get the height perfect for you. Only when you’re happy, cut the string.

DSCF0094

Being a failed boy scout, I only know one type of knot, so I tied it here once I had the height right for me. My stringpod was now ready for use.

DSCF0111

If you want to use the stringpod standing up and have a Fujifilm camera with a tilting rear LCD, you have two options. First, just place it under one foot, pull the string tight and use the camera’s viewfinder. Alternatively, to shoot at waist level, flip the screen out, stand with your feet around shoulder width apart, pass the string under both feet and, again, pull it tight to create a triangle.

Finally, if you want a lower angle, wrap the string around one wrist, pass it under both knees and pull the whole set up tight. The key to reducing camera shake, is keeping that string tight.

DSCF0129

So, how well does it work? Due to a motorbike accident some few years ago, I have the weakest wrists known to man so I don’t really like to stray below 1/60sec when I’m hand-holding. This shot was taken at 1/20sec at f/22 and, as you can see, it’s all over the shop.

DSCF0140

Using my stringpod, however, I was able to get a shake free result using the same exposure combination. I’m not saying it’s going to work with ten second exposures at night, but it could well get you out of a tight spot when you’ve left the tripod at home.

DSCF0133

 

Defying conventions with Pete Bridgwood – landscape photographer

Beautiful locations? Not essential. Golden hour? any time is good. prime lenses? zooms are fine.

Meet X-Photographer, Pete Bridgwood who will make you think again about how you take landscape photographs

For decades, the debate has raged as to whether photography is art. For most, the crux of the argument revolves around the camera itself, some considering that using a machine to capture images is ‘cheating’, while others argue the camera doesn’t create images on its own. Fine art landscape photographer Pete Bridgwood cuts through these years of discussion with incisive clarity: “I think the term ‘art’ is as relevant if a four-year old child produces a piece with crayons as any photograph or grand master painting – it’s still art,” he tells X Magazine. “Some people think it’s stuffy to define your work as art, that you put yourself on a pedestal if you define yourself as an artist, but I define it simply as ‘photographs that I take for me, not for anyone else’. I don’t shoot commercial images, I shoot to make prints that hopefully will sell if people like them.”

Blue Sugar
CAMERA: X-Pro1 EXPOSURE: 1/2900sec at F8, ISO 200

Pete studied medicine at university and subsequently followed this career path, but photography has always been an important part of his life; and despite a passion for both disciplines, he defines himself as a photographer rather than a doctor. “I was into photography at school and we had this great art teacher who ran a course after school, so I signed up. We’d sit around in a big group and he’d talk about the compositional elements of famous photographs, so from a young age I was looking at photographs in a critical way. “We learned all the wet processes in a traditional darkroom, so I learned the hard way with film. I think that teaches you to be more careful with exposure because if you get it wrong there isn’t the latitude to get it back. I was very lucky to have that grounding.”

2247-XPro1-blend XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS 18 mm 3.2 sec at f - 14 ISO 200
CAMERA: X-Pro1 EXPOSURE: 3.2secs at F14, ISO 200

Like many photographers, as the interest grows, the choice of subjects to shoot becomes more refined and when it came to choosing a specialism, Pete’s choice was simple. “Landscape is more controlled, you can take your time. With people photography it’s more reactive and interactional and maybe I’m not that good at interacting,” he jokes. “I tend to exclude people from my landscapes, because I think it’s nice for the viewer to be invited into the image and if it has people in there, the viewer has to share it with someone. There is a counterargument, of course, because featuring people invites others into the image, but I do tend to Photoshop a lot of people out as they always seem to walk into frame wearing bright dayglo clothing!”

2422-XT1 XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS 18 mm 3.1 sec at f - 8.0 ISO 200
CAMERA: X-T1 EXPOSURE: 3.1secs at F8, ISO 200
Sherwood Forest
CAMERA: X-Pro1 EXPOSURE: 1.2secs at F11, ISO 200

While some may question Pete’s use of software in the context of his fine art image making, he’s very clear that post-production work is a very important part of creating his images. “It’s changed from film, when all the effort was put in in-camera. Now, I think half the effort comes in the field and half in post-production. Documentary landscape photographers would disagree, but I think you can do a lot in post-processing to create a more emotive result. It depends on the scene,” he explains. “Every photograph is a combination of three things: the photographer, the scene and the viewer. The percentages of those three elements vary from scene to scene and I love to actively play with those ratios. You could completely remove yourself and just take a picture and it will look gorgeous, or you can get a scene that you apply a lot of changes to and alter the feel. The trick is to not make it look that apparent.”

2257-XPro1 XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS 55 mm 1-300 sec at f - 5.6 ISO 200
CAMERA: X-Pro1 EXPOSURE: 1/300sec at F5.6, ISO 200
6930-XPRO1 XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS 21.4 mm 1-450 sec at f - 6.4 ISO 200
CAMERA: X-Pro1 EXPOSURE: 1/450sec at F6.4, ISO 200

Emotional connection is one element that Pete considers crucial in his images. He works hard to convey a sense of place and communicate the essence of the location. This can be done in a variety of ways, but Pete feels much of it is down to exposure choice. “Every image has its own shutter speed that will make the image look quite different. I think it’s important not to just think of that as a panacea,” he explains, “what I’m more about is finding the right exposure, an exposure that matches the emotion of the scene. How much do you want the grass to sway? How much do you want the sky or the water to move? It’s really about controlling the texture rather than simply taking a blasé attitude, which is what I like to get across.” Pete’s pursuit of this emotional connection doesn’t always necessitate him travelling from his home in Nottinghamshire to ‘honeypot’ locations in the UK and abroad, he feels that great landscape images can be captured virtually anywhere. “In some places it’s more difficult than others, but all you have to do is look around. The barn you don’t subconsciously see on the way into work, the single tree on the top of a hill, you should pencil those locations in for revisiting,” he advises.

1996-FINAL-MASTER XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS 31.5 mm 3.0 sec at f - 16 ISO 200
CAMERA: X-Pro1 EXPOSURE: 3secs at F16, ISO 200

“I feel the same way about light. I love the golden hour and there’s no doubt it’s quite magical, but there’s no reason why you can’t get evocative landscapes in the middle of the day. Or in the pouring rain.” Whatever time of day he’s out, Pete always carries his X-series cameras: “I used to use Canon DSLRs, but I haven’t touched them in months,” he says. “I started with the X100, but the X-Pro1 was a game changer for me and I use both primes and zooms on it. I’ve also recently got an X-T1, which is wonderful. I shoot the vast majority of my images on an XF18-55mm lens. The attraction is obvious: all my Fujifilm gear fits into a small waist pack – camera, lenses, full filter kit – and that’s very liberating.” This latter point is crucial to Pete, X-series cameras help him to communicate an essential part of his creative process.

“The whole essence of fine art photography is freedom,” he tells us. “Freedom to express. Freedom to interpret. Freedom, freedom, freedom.”

CLICK HERE TO VISIT PETE’S WEBSITE

2969-XPro1 XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS 18 mm 27.0 sec at f - 11 ISO 200
CAMERA: X-Pro1 EXPOSURE: 27secs at F11, ISO 200

 

Story behind the photo – The drizzle in Sevenoaks

I’ve worked with professional landscape photographer Paul Sanders on various projects and he knows about my recent falling in love with landscape photography. I saw this image by him on his Facebook wall and had to learn more about it because I was completely blown away by it.

One quick email later and Paul told me everything I needed to know:

Photography for me is emotional, it is a reflection of my state of mind and the reaction I have to a certain place at a certain time.

These trees sit in a boating lake near my home in Kent, it’s a place that is surrounded by the M25, A25 a bustling village and noisy schools. However when I go there I hear none of the bustle of the world.

I had this image in my mind last year, so it has been a long time coming to fruition. I rarely plan my shoots but having revisited this location a number of times I knew exactly what I wanted and the conditions that would make it work.

The weather was drizzle, mist and gloomy. Strangely it largely reflected my state of mind! On the off chance that the mist and drizzle would continue I headed down to the boating lake and stood listening to the birds.

The drizzle intensified and the mist thickened a little over the lake, perfect for me, ideal for my island of trees.

To get the image I had in my head I used the Fuji X-T1 and XF50-140 lens, shooting upright which I’m starting to do more of, but I still find challenging.

I wanted the trees to be virtual silhouettes against the mist, sort of isolated but stark.

For this shot I exposed for the darkest part of the island, this intentionally overexposed the back ground exaggerating the misty feeling, shooting at F9 on telephoto also helps by utilising the shallower depth of field the 50-140 has over a wide angle lens.

Of course the joy of using the X-T1 is that the EVF means I can pretty much see the exact image I have in my head at the time of shooting, making the whole process more about the final image than the camera and the technical aspects of photography.

I didn’t want hard reflections on the water and the choppy conditions combined with the an exposure of 2 minutes rendered them as I hoped. There was very little in the sky so I added a .75 soft grad to hold the tone. I used a Lee Big Stopper increase the exposure to two minutes from 1/8th of a second.

The first shot I took was the one that nailed it for me, I did a second one but forget to release the remote until about 5 minutes later I was so lost in watching the mist moved over the lake! I often get lost in the moment and totally forget why I am there.

Once I got home, I loaded the image into Lightroom, converted it to monochrome in through Silver Efex, selecting to develop it with an blue filter to increase the tone in the trees in the foreground, increased the contrast marginally added a platinum tone from the finishing menu and saved it – five minutes of post processing!

With every picture I create it’s all about pre-visualisation and connecting my emotions with the landscape and feeling the photograph.

Long exposure of Chipstead, Sevenoaks, Kent
Image © Paul Sanders. X-T1 with XF50-140mm. 120 sec, F9, ISO200

About Paul Sanders

Paul will be speaking at The Photography Show on Monday 23rd March at 17:00 in the “Behind the lens” theatre.

You can see more of Paul’s amazing work on his website, or following him on social media.
Paul Sanders’ Official website
@wiggys on Twitter
@wiggys on Instagram
Paul Sanders Photography Ltd on Facebook

Camera shake is great!

This is my favourite version - the sun had come out so the shutter speed increased to 1/4sec, but I still got some decent movement
This is my favourite version – the sun had come out so the shutter speed increased to 1/4sec, but I still got some decent movement

Fujifilm spend a lot of money developing systems to help reduce the chance of camera shake from spoiling our shots. Very effective they are, too. But sometimes, moving the camera during the exposure can be beneficial to your shots. The most obvious example is panning, where you track a moving subject, but there are other techniques that come under the banner of intentional camera movement (ICM) and it’s these that we’re going to explore here.

Pretty much any subject can be used for ICM, but it’s often best to loosely match the shape of your subjects to the movement you intend to make. Trees, for example, are ideal for vertical movement, whereas a landscape is good if you choose to move the camera horizontally. You can also twist the camera from side to side, which can induce a dizzy feeling in the viewer, so this works well if you’re looking up at a tall building or trees.

The actual movement part of the process can be done with your camera hand-held, but you’ll get far more consistent results if you mount your camera on a tripod. Even so, make sure you’ve got a fully charged battery and a card with plenty of space on it as you’ll inevitably get more misses than hits at first. As you’re going to be using a long(ish) shutter speed, also consider taking a polariser or neutral density filter with you, particularly if it’s a sunny day. Right, let’s head to the woods…

DSCF3163

1 Here’s my set up; an X-T1 with XF 18-55mm zoom, mounted on a sturdy tripod. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that I left OIS turned on for this quick shot, but I switched it off before I started taking images, and you should too. This avoids electronics trying to take over and reduce the movement.

2 Next, I selected the X-T1’s lowest ISO, the 18-55mm’s smallest aperture (f/22) and the two-second self-timer option. I then switched to the Manual exposure mode and took a meter reading from the scene, which gave me a shutter speed of 1/2sec. Ideally, you should be working with a shutter speed between two seconds and 1/4sec, so this was perfect and didn’t require the help of filters.

DSCF3179 copy

3 Finally, I locked off all the movements on the tripod head with the exception of tilt, pressed the shutter release and then quickly moved the head backwards and forwards. These movements should be as smooth as possible and the two-second delay gives just enough time to get into rhythm. If you find this isn’t enough time, use the ten second delay.

Once you’ve got used to the actual picture taking technique, try a range of different compositions. I like to have a tree prominent in the front of the shot, but you may opt for a more uniform. Take a look at the images below to see what I got.

ICM on the computer
There may be times when you want to have a go at ICM, but don’t have a tripod with you. On these occasions, you can rely on Photoshop. These two shots were done simply by using the Motion Blur filter.

To do it, open the image in Photoshop, then select Filter-Blur-Motion Blur. In the dialogue box that opens, you can choose the angle of blur (I left these of 0°), then simply move the pixel slider until you get the effect you’re after. Simple.

If you found this tutorial useful, do let me know. I’m happy to take suggestions for techniques you’d like to see, so just add your own views and comments below.