Photography is very often a solitary pursuit and when outdoors in a beautiful landscape I find it is one of contemplation as well. Time passes swiftly as I immerse myself in the surroundings with just the occasional person walking past who may or may not say hello. That’s fine by me. I don’t wish to sound unsociable but nor do I want my concentration broken.
This weekend I decided to slow things right down and do some long exposure captures. It’s not an approach I have taken before for one principal reason. I have always thought myself to be a spontaneous, albeit considered photographer, who enjoys hand held compositions. The flexibility of being able to move a camera quickly from one position to another is in stark contrast to the tedium of carrying and using a tripod. However long exposures and tripods go hand hand in hand assuming of course you want the static element in the frame to be sharp. If you enjoy ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) then a tripod is no longer a requirement.
With clouds in the sky for the first time in many weeks and a gusty summer wind the conditions were ideal for what I had in mind. In truth I also wanted to try out my latest acquistion – a Gitzo tripod and ball head. My old tripod would not have been sufficiently sturdy in the wind so I was keen to find out how the new set-up performed. Perfectly was the answer. Very sturdy and a joy to use. What more could I ask?
I knew the location I wanted to visit. The church of St Hubert at Idsworth in Hampshire. The church is elevated and surrounded by fields. On arrival I was pleased to see the long grasses in front of the church. The cloud formations were also just right. Things were coming together nicely. Far from being an expert in this style of photography I experimented with shutter times to see what worked best. The header image was 15 seconds whilst the image below was 30 seconds which further amplified the degree of movement in the sky. Perhaps the cloud movement is a little too exaggerated below, but that’s down to presonal preference. I have yet to decide which I prefer.
After a while I moved further away and took the shot below looking back at church on the horizon. I used the wide grass path and corn fields on either side as a lead in line. All the pictures were captured with an Zeiss 18mm lens and Lee Big Stopper.
At the end of the session I was a little surprised how much I enjoyed the experience of taking these long exposures. I took my time finding the right position for my chosen composition. Further time was taken setting up the camera and tripod. I then had to wait as the exposure time came down and was then repeated by the built in Noise Reduction. A 30 second exposure took in fact a full minute before the result appeared on the camera screen. On a number of ocassions the result was either over or underexposed as the passing clouds would cast shadows on the scene affecting the optimum exposure time. Sometimes the wind would drop and impact on the amount of movement in the grasses or the final placement of the clouds did not result in a pleasing composition. Far from being tiresome I actually enjoyed the unpredictability of the results, but more than that, I found the whole approach forced me to slow down. I had no choice and consequently it provided me with a more immersive and contemplative experience than might normally be the case. One, I will definitely be repeating.
Other posts featuring Idsworth Church can be found by clicking on the links below.