Ultra long exposure photography can be a very fulfilling pursuit and generate etherial images that draw your viewer into them leaving them week in the knees! As a photography master generalist I can tell you that there are a few speciality areas that can really excite me and force my juices to flow!
Specifically they are:
- Ultra High Speed photography: Water Drop Collision Photography, Daytime Lightning Photography & Hummingbird Photography
- Infrared Photography
- Grist Mill Photography
- Ultra Long Exposure Photography.
This post is a tutorial on Ultra Long Exposure photography using the Fuji X-E1 camera with its 18-55mm lens, a 6 stop B+W ND filter and a Sekonic L758DR spot meter.
Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens
The Fuji X-E1 is my 3rd in the Fuji line. I started with the X100 and moved to the X Pro 1 in order to have interchangeable lenses, then to the X-E1 to take advantage of its Electronic Shutter Release. I have always been a Canon shooter with closets full of L lenses. But due to a spinal operation that went dreadfully wrong I lost 80% use of both hands and arms. No longer able to hold heavy camera equipment I started on a long journey searching for high quality camera system that was small and light weight and produce world class images. A long story shortened, I settled on the Fuji X lineup and their fine quality lenses along with a few CV and Leica M mount lenses.
Now, the Fuji X-E1 with its electronic shutter allows me to hook it up to my water drop machine, Lightning Trigger and Hummingbird control system!
The only lacking item is its short lens lineup. With the introduction of the new 55-210mm lens this spring even that will no longer be a problem for me!
Long exposure has several issues that you must overcome to successfully create the etherial, emotionally charged image.
- Long Shutter Speed: Even in low light you will find it difficult to get a shutter speed at f/8 (sharpest).
- Difficulty Focusing: Darkness you know…
- Unreliable Metering: Especially with an installed ND filter.
- Camera Shake: Requires a STURDY tripod and REMOTE SHUTTER RELEASE.
The Long shutter speeds generally can range from 15 seconds to 20 minutes. These are difficult to reach unless you shoot at night with light from the moon. What I find that I do is shoot at dusk on or just before sunrise to overcome this issue. Usually I will add a Neutral Density Filter (ND) to reduce the total amount of light reaching the image sensor. This will allow you to shoot with more ambient light and generally make this style of photography easier……
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