How Long Is Long Enough?

By Ken Wright

All too often on social media, I see the wrong exposure used in the wrong location, the rush to use a ten stop to create an effect at the expense of the beauty and dynamics of the location.

For me, a really long exposure is best used for landscapes that do not have a dynamic element, ie. calm seas, lakes, jetty and a slow moving sky with plenty of definition. Here we want to smooth out the sea, lake, remove the wind chopped ripples and get that lovely silky effect and movement in the sky.

My colleague and fellow tutor at New Zealand Photography Workshops, Richard Young is very adept at “Long Exposures” anything 2-8 minutes and he is in his element where as I tend to operate at the other end of the scale, still classed as long exposures because you can't handhold the camera.

That's not to say that I don’t do longer exposures like Richard, it's about having enough knowledge to deal with what nature throws at you - Presented with a sea with little or no water movement and I will be into a ten stop in a flash.

However, most of my favourite locations that I visit for seascape photography in the Bay of Plenty have dynamic water movement over rock ledges and small offshore islands etc. These environments suit the shorter more explosive exposure.

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