Long exposure photography has a special place in my heart and arguably has been where I spend most of my time when creating landscapes as it allows a greater amount of control over a sometimes chaotic scene. Adam Karnacz from First Man Photography expresses similar sentiments and explains some great tips for photographers interested in expanding their creative options by adding long exposure photography to their landscape arsenal.
When you’re getting started with long exposure photography, setting up your camera and choosing a subject or scene is crucial as you won’t be able to make a change until your exposure is finished. For imagery that may take minutes for an exposure to finish, this is a great way to learn to take your time with the details and slow down. Karnacz goes through a quick and informative breakdown to explain what each piece of equipment does and its value to the final image. Something that inevitably is forgotten by many photographers working during the day on long exposures is covering the eyepiece (especially for those using Canon where the rubber eyepiece cover is on the original camera strap). Letting any additional light in except through the front of the lens will cause issues in the final image.
Karnacz explains the use of neutral density filters and how ND filters in the range of 6-stops to 16-stops is usually going to be the most appropriate for long exposure imagery. There is no specific filter recommendations from Karnacz though Fstoppers and Patrick Hall has tested several filters previously and gave his conclusions and recommendations for those looking at adding a filter to their kit. I personally use Lee Filters and have appreciated their extensive product line for several years and they have never let me down.
Figuring out exposure times for 6, 10, or 16 stop filters can be a bit tough, doubling your times over and over again. Karnacz recommends Photo Pills which is a great app that he takes advantage of to figure out his exposure times quickly and without any difficulty. Photo Pills can also help you scout out areas and is a very extensive and valuable landscape tool in its own right much less for figuring out exposure lengths.
If you haven’t looked at doing long exposure imagery, this is a great video to see just how easy it can be. Long exposure landscapes can be a way to completely change not only how you take your imagery but choosing with intention the way your image will be changed. Such techniques allow us to create scenes in camera that drastically shorten our "at the computer" post processing time and for me that’s always a plus!