This morning I stopped briefly at a small but picturesque nature photography location. I have photographed the same manmade spillway a few times before, with the camera oriented in a similar manner. My approach and end product was slightly different today, as I’ve been using a 10-stop Neutral Density filter which greatly increases exposure time. The images usually display a great exaggeration of motion in natural elements, which we commonly refer to as a “painterly effect”. There are times when this approach can be impractical or too clichéd, but it also demonstrates great patience and technique in one’s repertoire.
A sweeping view of a scenic spillway in New Jersey. Photo taken with the Tamron 14-150mm All-In-One lens.
Exposure settings: 50s F/10 ISO 200. Photo taken with the Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One Lens for micro four thirds cameras.
When I first began doing photography, I thought that the prime objective was to freeze all action to record a moment in time. Getting a sharp capture of a fleeting moment can indeed be difficult, whether it is a closeup view of the supermoon rising on the horizon, a sports photograph like a MLB baseball player nailing a fastball, or a bird photo like trying to shoot a tiny Tree Swallow mid-air. There is also great validity to having motion within your frame. In some cases, this can evoke moods like quickly fleeting action or on the other hand, serenity.
DSLR Nature Photograph from New Jersey showcasing how motion caused by wind can express time and add further dynamics to an image.
The above image was taken recently at the New Jersey Shore using a tripod-mounted Canon EOS 60D camera and the Tamron SP 90mm VC 1:1 F/2.8 Macro Lens. Camera settings in manual exposure: 2.5 seconds F/7.1 ISO 100. VC off (lens stabilization motor), Mirror Lock-up, 2 Second Timer, One Shot Autofocus (near the middle of the grass), and Auto White Balance.
I think the crescent moon has a really great distinctive shape, a shape I generally associate with a peaceful sky. The grass that I have included within the frame is typical vegetation of the mid-Atlantic shoreline, so this gives a nice sense of orientation for the viewer. For others, the grass may be reminiscent of a prairie or meadow. The back and forth motion of the blades of grass tell us that time is passing, and also gives the photo a much softer edged appearance than a motionless capture. I did shoot several similar frames, but in the other images I actually felt there was too much motion and not enough definition on the grass.
This is an impromptu composition that was dictated by the lighting conditions. My intention for this night photography session was to photograph stars in the sky, but the punchy light from the moon and the promenade limited the definition possible in the sky.
Fine Art Photograph taken at night at the Jersey Shore in Sea Isle City
The camera settings here are a focal length of 18mm, aperture at F/5.6 and ISO speed of 400. Increasing the exposure would have blown out the highlights and decreasing the exposure would have rendered the scene too dark for my tastes. I originally started off at a higher ISO but the image looked washed out so I lowered it a full ISO stop. I do not shoot still photos in incremental ISO’s as anything other than native ISO values can deteriorate dynamic range or image quality. Other settings: RAW file format, Auto White Balance, Mirror Lock Up, 2 Second Timer, VC (stabilization) off, tripod firmly in the sand
The composition in this photo is a pretty straight-forward rule-of-thirds setup. The horizon is placed about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the frame and the houses occupy approximately 2/3 of the horizontal length of the frame. Putting those elements dead center in the photo would have killed the dynamics in my opinion.