Long Exposure Photography – X-Pro1
I’m sure you’ve seen photos showing waterfalls with milky smooth water flowing down them, or ocean views where the ocean looks almost like ice – they are long exposure shots, taken over many seconds, sometimes minutes – collapsing a whole slice of time into a single frame.
Some people even call them time slices – the name works well I think.
You can do this easily enough after sunset, as the light levels drop – you select a small aperture and low ISO on your camera, and the exposure times then stretch out into seconds, tens of seconds, and longer.
This shot at dusk has a 2.5 second exposure.
As the light fades further, you get to even longer exposures, and even more blurring of moving objects.
This shot has a 15 second exposure.
But what if you want to shoot time slices during the day, in full sunlight?
Your ISO and aperture just won’t slow things down enough to get the effect, so you’ll need to add something to reduce the light reaching the camera sensor.
What you need is an ND filter – and for daylight, a pretty significant ND filter such as a 9 or 10 stop model.
I use the B+W 10 stop filter on the X-Pro1, with great results. (Sometimes called an ND 3.0 Filter)
There are plenty of manufacturers to choose from – Hoya and Tiffen are two other brands I use – I tend to avoid the variable ND models and cheap no-name brands.
To use the ND filter for daylight time slicing, you preset your camera at it’s lowest ISO – 200 ASA for RAW shooting on the X-Pro1, and stop down the aperture to say f/16 as a starting point.
Screw the ND filter to the lens after removing any other filters.
Even though this filter is almost black when you try and see through it with the naked eye, the X-Pro1 has no issue seeing through it, and the EVF still shows you a clear image of the scene for composition.
And even more remarkable, the AF system still works through the ND filter!
You position your AF box as normal, and use AF to focus the lens – I had no issues doing this in normal daylight – amazing to see that AF can still operate at such low light levels.
So, what do you get?
Well, you get exposure times between 20-30 seconds, even in full sun – perfect!
Point the camera at a suitable scene with a moving element – fix the camera on a very sturdy tripod, and use the 2 sec self-timer to release the shutter to avoid camera shake.
Can’t stress how important a good solid tripod will be – otherwise you’ll have soft images due to camera movement during the long exposure.
I had a cheaper small model tripod, and it was just useless as it flexed in the strong coastal winds – so I ended up upgrading to get something more stable.
Given the relatively low price of an ND filter, it’s a great way to open up another field of photography, and it’s great for getting an alternative viewpoint on a day to day scene.
Do your research – as some cheaper ND filters have a significant color cast to them – worth avoiding even with WB correction in post processing – better to get it right in camera.
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