element of imagination and creation

My first super long exposure


This January, while in Stockholm, I finally captured my very first “longer” exposure by purpose. Meaning that I didn’t capture an opportune scenery but rather I created the opportunity and prepared myself for it.

You make it sound like it is a big achievement …

It is! I’ve always wanted to do long exposures and super long exposures. But the confort and laziness always got the better of me. More than that, whenever the opportunity raised to capture a really beautiful scenery I either didn’t have the camera, the right lens, or more often than ever didn’t have the tripod.

You’ve never done long exposures before? :O

Actually, I did. At times I managed to conquer the comfort and used whatever I had at hand to capture what my mind was seeing unfolding before my eyes. No tripod? Look there’s a trash bin with a solid cover, at the right spot and height. No trash bin? Look at that lighting post! Beautiful! A pocket camera with limited focal length? Nah! Crack it as wide as it can and frame that shit. But not very often and certainly not on purpose (planned).

That’s how I got several shots that I was really proud of at that times.

Aren’t we going to see any of those shots?

Nope! :))

So what went different now?

Well, in time I got a little more serious and realized that opportunity doesn’t wait until when you are fully prepared (and I never was prepared). So I started “walking prepared”. Took the tripod in all of my trips. Always carried the camera and favorite lenses with me (if not with the bags, in my pockets!) whenever I got out of the house. And waited for the oportunity to rise.

What I really want to accomplish with long exposures is star trails, urban night shots and abstract images involving water or clouds. At the end of last year, I managed to acquire an ND 1000 filter. 10 stops! And I couldn’t wait to use it on the streets of Bucharest, at night, for super long exposures. Apparently, I could wait quite a lot to properly use this filter for the first time since a few months have passed until I got to use it.

It was only this January when I traveled with my wife to Stockholm, Sweden, celebrating one of our anniversaries. We have several of them throughout the year. It was our first time in a “Norse” country and we love everything Norse.

Did you have a targeted place to capture?

It’s quite difficult to know from the first trip ever to a place the best spots for great photography. Usually you have to dig a little before and do a little documentation: see what other photographers did, what places would inspire you for great ideas and so on.

The best idea is to get there, walk up and down, right and left, until your brain signals you THAT’S THE SPOT! This angle right there!

It’s what we did. And while we did that we discovered Stockholm is actually a very warm city even in the middle of January. Not temperature wise, although while being there the temperature was several degrees warmer than in Bucharest. But the architecture, the light of the short days (after 15:30 it was already evening) and the people. Yeah we fell in love with Stockholm and can’t wait to get back there again.

Fooling around in the old center Gamla Stan we decided to make a trip to the famous Monteliusvagen (Montelius road). I was hoping to put my tripod and ND1000 filter to good use up there. Unfortunately, that day was a bit sunless and overcast so we didn’t have a proper sunset as we hoped. More than that, up on the Monteliusvagen the winds were quite strong and the felt temperature was considerably lower than in the city. But the view was worth it. All along that path there were benches and observation points. Large enough to deploy the tripod and camera.

What parameters did you use?

First, there were two things I wanted to do: large panoramic and long exposure. Right on the first acceptable spot I put on the ND1000 filter and started testing exposures over the scenic view of Gamla Stan. Good results came from the first shots but the goal was to totally smooth the water. Since I’ve never done it before, I had to. It was a must.

I used the 24-70mm L F4 lens from Canon, with a full frame sensor. I framed the shot at 47mm and closed the aperture to f/14. Kept the ISO low at 200 and the tests were done with Bulb mode. The most satisfying shots I got at 62 seconds exposure. Of course, the subject was Gamla Stan, which I captured from different angles along path. The only difference being the relative position of a ferry boat anchored on the shore.

Above, I decided to show you two shots at two different spots along the Monteliusvagen. Both have the same settings I described earlier but had different lighting going on so I tried different settings in post. Since I cannot make my mind between the color and BW versions, I just put both versions of each. Let me know which one is the best.

And the panoramic shot?

For the panoramic shot I set up the camera as for a normal landscape panoramic shot: portrait position, the lens wide opened at 24mm, and for a second panoramic I zoomed it at maximum 70 mm.

The image presented is taken with the 70mm focal length, at the f/11 aperture and 1/125s exposure time. ISO was set at 500. A total of 14 images were necessary to capture the region of interest for my panoramic. After color and light adjustments in postprocessing and a little cropping the final image is 17346 x 5184 pixels and 68MB on disk (at 330 dpi). The presented image is reduced to 3000×897 pixels (at 120 dpi).

Gamla Stan panoramic shot

Did you publish any of these?

I usually publish some of my work on my 500px.com account, but these versions here are more polished in post. You can follow my work there and make sure to say hello!

About the author

Laurentiu-Marian Angheluta

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