Recently, perhaps rather delayed, I wanted to give a try to long exposure photography, having a ND1000 (or ND 3.0) filter in my bag for some time now and not having used it as many times as I wanted. So, I cleaned the dust over it and headed towards Sounio and St. Nikolaos in Saronida, Attiki with a friend of mine. It was poring and the weather was depressing, but we hoped that we would have our chance when the sun would descend. Since we had a long time ahead, we agreed to head over to Sounio and try some long exposure shots with the heavy clouds passing over the Temple Of Poseidon across the bay.
Meanwhile, it was one of the few times I needed to change my usual photo bag for another in order to have enough space for my smaller and older tripod as I had to take the metro and the bus to meet my friend. My tripod had 3 old type twisting mechanisms for expanding the legs and it was a fuss to deploy, but I managed to catch the light and make some great photos with it. I had my Haida ND 3.0 (or ND 1000) Neutral Density filter with me which was not sold in Greece at the time I had purchased it. It is a great filter and one of the few I know without annoying color casts, even though it stops the light from hitting the sensor 1000 times more compared to when you are using your bare lens. This produces some really nice, silky in texture, waters and skies, but one should be careful with the exposure time as the sensor tends to produce much noise when the exposure time is longer than 2 minutes.
|Sounio, Temple of Apollo, 1 minute @ f8|
|Saronida, St. Nikolaos 3 minutes @ f11|
|Kifisos River banks, 1 minute @ f11|
What I had foolishly forgotten was my step up filter from 67mm to 77mm and that limited my framing with my Canon 70-200 f4 L IS USM, having the Temple Of Poseidon at distance. I chose not to use the Canon 24-105 f4 L IS USM, but just my Canon 17-40 f4 L USM and Canon 70-200 f4 L IS USM with my 77mm Haida ND 3.0 and my 77mm Marumi Circular Polarizer respectively, the Marumi being one of the best polarizers in the market today with exceptional clarity, even comparable to the most expensive B+W Circular Polarizer. The photos were taken at overcast noon atmosphere with the clouds passing over the Temple Of Poseidon and occasional drops of rain and medium gusts of wind. Unfortunately we took only a few shots from the spot we had parked, a small alley some turns before the Poseidon Temple, but we had a big discussion about the techniques involved and the effort it takes for a single long exposure to be shot successfully. You need to keep the camera still for a couple of minutes, try to frame and focus correctly overcoming the great visual difficulty to compose the frame within the viewfinder, use a low ISO (or up to 1600 in full frame cameras) and find some water and clouds to create a silky texture.
Our great discovery was St Nikolaos at Saronida when we returned from Sounio. Upon our arrival there were colorful clouds passing all over the sky and the sun beams created heavy colorful volumes of silky textures underneath. Moreover, there were some boats lying on the sandy shores making ideal framing opportunities. The sun begun to set as soon as we arrived at the small port and we had very little time to set up our gear and compose some shots before the colors changed to dull and the exposures grew over 3 minutes. I can recall I had only time for 5 shots without margin for error or multiple shots for redundancy per frame and I kept changing angles with each shot. Every minute passing created a different feeling and set of colors in the sky and we wished we could just "freeze the time" and use the background colors of the sky for other frames, too. Instead, I found myself watching hopelessly one picture fading out after another and in 15-20 minutes everything was over. We were left with a feeling of incompleteness trying to squeeze some more light from the sky and feed out photographic hunger, having just experienced a piece of heavenly light in that small gulf.
|Kifisos Avenue, 15 seconds @ f11|
|Kalamata port, 15 seconds @ f11 and ISO 50|
|Saronida, St. Nikolaos, 3 minutes @ f11|
Some days after that trip, I tried to shoot some more long exposure frames, some with success some left with much to be desired. I found out some good spots for next visits, but those places are dull without a colorful atmosphere and even the ND 3.0 filter is not capable of bringing out the feeling you want to convey for movement and softness. Living in a place where you have to plan everything and always for next weekend, there are not many opportunities to combine beautiful weather conditions with good company and free time. But my decision is to keep on shooting Long Exposure Miracles for a longer time than I had originally planned. And this is a project suitable for my personal pleasure. You just keep tuned for more Long Exposure Views.
|Aspropirgos, 90 seconds @ f11|