Using Filters for Long Exposure Photography

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Duration: 5:24

Often the best time to capture landscapes is at night when the sun is going down. But measuring the light can be tricky because you often need to shoot a long exposure. In this premium video lesson, Outdoor Photography Guide’s Paul Thomson takes you to a beach in Sweden and experiments with a long exposure to capture the best images at sunset.

Seaweed-covered rocks act as foreground for the vast Baltic Sea. As the sun slowly lowers behind a distant island, Paul brings out a 6-Stop ND filter, which allows him to increase the exposure time by six stops. This filter can make a huge difference, especially when used for a long exposure in low light.

As the sun sets, the sky fills with color. The sea is fairly calm, and this prompts Paul to create a long exposure image with a minimalist feel. The sunlight begins to fade and drops behind a distant island. Paul contemplates the foreground, in this case, seaweed and rocks with pools of water.

When shooting a long exposure, he suggests using Case lens filters because they eliminate the color casts you have to deal with in post production. Water marks do not stain these filters. For his long exposure image, Paul includes in his frame a foreground of rocks, a mid-section of water, a horizon of islands, and a colorful sky. He shoots at 13 seconds, ISO100 at f16. This results in a beautiful long exposure image suitable for framing.

If you are trying long exposure photography for the first time, try to create your landscape compositions with a minimalist style. Use an ND filter to dramatize the light, and look for a layering of colors. This thoughtful approach will help you in post production. In this premium video lesson, Outdoor Photography Guide’s Paul Thomson guides you through the process of creating memorable landscape images in low light.