Night and Day Long Exposures

We always like when we see a picture with clouds motion in the sky and the blur effect due to long exposure times. This gives a surrealistic touch to the images. But the question for common people is how a photographer gets this effect.

The approach depends on the time hour, if it is near night or if we are in the midday or not near to dawn or after twilight.

During the day, to increase the exposure time it is necessary to decrease ISO (but this can be only done in some professional cameras and only 1 step, from ISO 100 to ISO 50). Or another solution it is to use small apertures (around f/22). But it is usual that although the diaphragm is very close, the estimated time for the exposure was not sufficiently long. So the solution is to use what photographers call Neutral Density filters (ND).

The ND filters rise the time exposure by several stops ( a stop is the halving or doubling of the amount of light availables and means double exposure or as consequence double time for exposure). So it is usual to select one depending on the time requested or effect in the sky (if for example there is so few wind, we will need a ND with more stops). The usual filters and their stops increase are:

· ND2 (or ND0.3) : 1 stop
· ND4 (or ND0.6): 2 stops
· ND8 (or ND0.9): 3 stops
· ND400 : 8 2/3 stops
· ND1000 : 10 stops

So that means that when you use a NDx filter, x is equal to time multiplier ( that is 2 ^ stop), the time for the exposure will be the exposure reads by camera meter without filter multiply by x. It is usual to measure exposure without filter, due to 3 reasons:

– The use of ND filters produces warm or cold hues and changes your White Balance. So if you want to use the appropriate WB, you need the camera metering without filter to set it later in your RAW editor. Although, you sometimes prefer the colors created with the filter.

– As the filter is so dark ( e.g ND400, ND1000) the camera has not light to calculate an exposure time. So in Bulb mode, you manually select the time.

– Due to the same problem, the camera can’t focus automatically.

How you are seeing, for long exposures (time > 30 s), you need to set you camera as follow:

– Set Bulb Mode ( because you time is > 30 s and other modes don’t support this).
– Use low ISO to avoid noise due to long exposure.
– Use a remote control to release the shot in order to avoid camera shake.
– Pre-focus without filter or use manual focus.
– And of course, to use a tripod or put the camera in a fixed surface.

Clouds Vanishing On Arganzuela Footbridge

Clouds Vanishing On Arganzuela Footbridge :: BW

Manzanares riverside, Madrid (Spain).

Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM + Hoya ND400 @ 19 mm | f/22, 33 s, ISO 100. BW from 1 exposures on a tripod

But during the night they are more problems to get a correct exposure. Then, You don’t need the use of ND filters but you should take into account:

– As it is so dark, the camera again has problems to focus, but now you can’t usually focus automatically (or pre-focus) as during the day. So you can use Live View Mode to select manually the focus distance, with the help of a lantern e.g. or use what it is called hyperfocal distance ( in a short-hand, it is the distance to focus for the best sharpness, widest deep-of-field, DOF). The hyperfocal distance depends on your DSRL type sensor (Full-Frame or APS-C), lens focal length and aperture. You can get tables to calculate it.

– And again, due to you have so few light, you need to set manually your time exposure. But now, the solution to calculate the time is to increase ISO and/or increase aperture (decrease f-stop number) and to take the time measure with AV mode and later adapt it for the aperture and ISO that you want or need to select with the Bulb mode. So each increment in ISO ( for example ISO 100, 200, 400) means double time. And each f-stop decrement (for example f/11, f/8, f/5.6, f/4 …) does the same.

Moonlit At Juan Carlos I Park

Moonlit At Juan Carlos I Park :: HDR :: DRI

North Pond, Juan Carlos I Park, Madrid (Spain).

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 11 mm | f8, 26s, ISO 100. HDR/DRI from 3 exposures on a stable surface @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]

Now, you are thinking, this is more to calculate, I am not a mathematics … what I do to simplify this ? I am going to get you several tips:

• When I used my Canon EOS 450D (APS-C) and Sigma 10-20mm lens @ 10mm, I adapted the hyperfocal distance to a visible mark in the focus ring (usually 3 fts), so then my aperture was conditioned to f/4 or f/5.6 , I don’t remember exactly. So you can do similarly in you workflow.

• To use Photopills or a similar software with calculators for your mobile. With Photopills you have hyperfocals calculator, Exposures calculator (for ND filters) and more, but this will be a topic for another post.

Hyperfocal Distance Calculator

Exposure Calculator


Sky in Motion at Mahou Tower

A BW, HDR, long exposure with ND1000 filter picture: 3 steps from reality to surrealism 😉

Sky in Motion at Mahou Tower :: HDR :: BW

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM + Lee Big Stopper (ND1000) @ 11 mm | f8, 160s, ISO 100. HDR from 3 exposures @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]

Windows In The Sky

I come back to my blog with a revision of an old picture taken to Space Tower (Torre Espacio) at Cuatro Torres Business Area, Madrid. Just a little post-processing to reduce noise with Noiseware and add sharpening using High Pass filter technique.

Dedicated to my favourite group, U2.

Windows In The Sky :: HDR

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 10 mm + HiTech ND0.9 | f16, 13s, ISO 100. HDR from 3 exposures @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]

The Fullmoon Mirror

During this shooting, I was stopped another time by security guards. This time was in a public park, and they said to me that it was not permitted to shot with tripod, saying that it is considered professional photography and then, I needed a permission from the city council. So I asked them if I could without tripod, so I shot long exposures using fixed surfaces. In this example, I use a support on the fence.

To process this picture, my French HDR photographer buddy Anto XIII suggested me to try Oloneo PhotoEngine HDR Software for blue hour and night shots and this is my 1st attempt. I am happy with the result because with other softwares, I had problems with the clouds motion in the different exposures and with Oloneo, I got what I wanted and later I could mix the HDR processed file with the 0EV exposure.

The Fullmoon Mirror :: HDR :: DRI
North Pond, Juan Carlos I Park , Madrid (Spain)

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 10 mm | f4, 81s, ISO 100.  HDR/DRI from 3 exposures @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]

Double Symmetry At Debod

Last Wednesday, I was chating with a photographer buddy, when the sunset was coming and then I saw through the window that the clouds were turning on violet and the wind was blowing them which enough force to have blur in the sky with a long exposure. So I said goodbye quickly to my mate, saying that we had great clouds in Madrid, and go out for a bit of photowalk at only 50 meters from my home. And what I have there, this egyptian temple – Debod Temple – that I have shot so much times, and I always love to do it. It is an item so much shot in Madrid, so I tried a different composition from a lateral, seeing the wind direction and gaming with the symmetry and reflections.

In order to correct the fails with the tonemapped lighting on the temple, I have manually blended the -4 EV and -2 EV exposures with the HDR image.

Double Symmetry At Debod :: HDR :: DRI

Templo de Debod, Parque del Oeste, Madrid (Spain)

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 10 mm | f11, 20s, ISO 100.  HDR/DRI from 4 exposures @ [-4 EV .. -2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]

Purple Hour @ Playa El Ancón

In the west extreme of the Golden Mile (‘Milla de Oro’) in Marbella is located this bit of wildness within one of the most urbanised places in the Sun Coast (‘Costa del Sol’). Between the ‘Puente Romano’ Hotel and a pinewood , you can find this beach that it is not so good for a bath, but has some curious rocks formations and vegetation …

Purple Hour @ Playa El Ancón #1 :: HDR (revised)

Playa El Ancón, Marbella (Spain)

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 10 mm | f11, 30s, ISO200. HDR from 3 exposures @ [-2 EV .. 0 ..+2 EV]

Symmetry Of Clouds

After breaking my Lee Big Stopper filter ( 10 stops ND filter) during a session at AZCA, Madrid, I decided to buy a Hoya ND400 77mm for my lens. The day was cloudy and there was some wind, so I decide to try the filter and shoot the clouds motion and their reflection on the water. I had to set my camera on a support of a barrier, because several minutes ago I was stopped by security staff saying that trippod were not permitted on the park, as they are considered for pro use. And professional photographers need to ask for a permit before shooting. What do you think about this, taking into account that this is a supposed public park.

Symmetry Of Clouds

North Pond, Juan Carlos I Park , Madrid (Spain)

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 10 mm + Hoya ND400 | f16, 5s, ISO 100.  HDR /DRI from 3 exposures @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]