Another of my best shots is mainly accidental and due to the fact that I don’t run very fast. Let me explain how I got this shot.
A little tram ride from the city center of Goteborg there is the little and pretty archipelago of Brano. Gorgeous little islands with people living on it. You have to take a boat from the land and it goes maybe every 45 minutes, something like that. Funny thing is that public transportation tickets and passes include the use of the boat! In Montreal, our STM tickets do not even cover all of the stations in the metro but over there, well they have boats included, ah!
The plan was to stay about two hours on the island and come back for supper time around 8h, by trying to match the boat schedule. There was quite a bit of walking on the island to reach the furthest area and get nice shots but once we were there the golden hour was at its peak and we had a perfect light for shots of the beach, houses and the coast in general. The results were good enough but nothing extraordinary. It’s a good thing I had a tripod because it resulted in a pretty nice picture of me looking “traveler-photographer-leather coat-exotic location”, profile picture material.
The tripod came in even more handy afterwards, for “the” boat shot. If we wanted to catch the boat at the planned departure and arrive back in town early enough for supper, we had to leave when the light was still quite good, which is always heartbreaking. Always a tough decision, pictures or your stomach. The good answer is; pack a protein bar and take pictures in the good light. You won’t regret it. Meals are forgotten but pictures stay forever (I should be a poet). We took the decision to take pictures longer but run afterwards, not always the best decision as running, hungry with a heavy backpack and a tripod in hand is really not ideal.
We arrived just in time… to see the boat leave without us. At this point, the light was almost over and it was pretty much nighttime except for a stunning sunset diving in the ocean, where we were 20 minutes earlier… Not enough time to go back and nothing else to do except wait for the next boat. After an initial grumpy 2 minutes, mainly motivated by my stomach, I thought that I might as well try for some shots here and there. Sunset was pretty enough to create something good through the trees but the moment passed quickly and what remained was, as I said, pretty much darkness. I installed the camera on the tripod and pointed it towards the moon for a long exposure and was positively impressed with what came out.
With long exposures (10 seconds +) you get more light (duh) but also more saturation and more colors, colors that you could not necessarily see with your naked eyes. Our eyes see one moment in space and time. Long exposures are the sum of all the light and all the colors (and movement as well) of a given space in a decided amount of time. As we could never see an addition of light with our eyes, long exposures always have the capacity to create something unique that would not exist in reality but only in pictures. Pretty deep stuff.
All philosophical matters aside, what happened here is the tiny remaining traces of purple light from the setting sun that were not really discernable by the naked eye produced amazing results. The sum of this purple light, on a very long exposure (30seconds) is enough to fill the whole image in purple. Even if you cannot see something amazing, it can be worth trying anyway. I love long exposures as they can always bring something unexpected, normally invisible. A tripod is an absolute must and I also usually use a remote trigger to snap the picture without touching the camera. Pressing the shutter button always creates an initial shake and can reduce sharpness. If you do not have a trigger, just use 2 or 10 seconds timer delay. If there is sufficient light but still want a long exposure (to get soft clouds or waterfall trails for example), you can use a neutral density filter that reduces light entering the camera even though the first step is to reduce the exposure and the ISO as much as possible to have a good light exposure even with a long shutter speed.
Needless to say, I’m glad I’ve missed the boat and next time I will miss it again but I’ll bring a protein bar.
You liked the story? You like the picture? Good news is that you can buy it as a print online! Not only does it provide you with amazing art to display in your house but it is also the best way to help me continue and improve my work, cheers!
Important things to remember if you do not want to read the whole story even though you should
- Plan your itinerary and your transportation according to the good light
- Continue shooting even though the light seems over
- Bring a tripod
- Miss the boat but pack some food for the wait
- Long exposures create fascinating and unique results
- Shoot with trigger remote or camera timer and a tripod
- Long exposure = low ISO + small aperture + long shutter speed
- Neutral density filter can get you even longer exposures or long exposure in daylight