Dreamy Seascapes Experiments

Long exposure images are fascinating: They have an other worldly appearance and serene feel.  In my view this type of photographs move from faithful reproductions of reality to surreal, artistic images.  When the camera shutter is left open for minutes, the movement of clouds and water is smoothed out and this creates a wonderfully soft effect. So when Photographer Leanne Cole spent a couple of weekends with us at Jan Juc, keen to take some long exposure seascapes, I had to experiment under her guidance.

A play with Neutral Density Filters

Having recently spent a small fortune on Neutral Density filters, I wanted to learn how to use these and in particular come to grips with the Lee Big Stopper.  This is a solid ND filter providing a 10-stop reduction in exposure. It allows you to photograph with a slower shutter speed than normally required. By slowing your exposure time and/or dialling your aperture to F22, you are able to use maximum depth of field and more importantly convey movement in clouds and water. As with any new toy, there is a fair amount of experimentation involved with camera settings and exposure duration.

There are a few things to remember too, such as switching to manual focus, turning your Vibration Control (VC) or Image Stabilisation (IS) off, covering your view finder so stray light does not spoil your shot…  I found that with a long exposure, the camera senses the most imperceptible movement and you can get more blurred shots than you care for:  people walking on a deck where you have set yourself up with your tripod, windy conditions with your backpack hanging from your tripod, forgetting to switch off the VC on your lens, getting a salty coating on your filter from the conditions… So there were a few disappointing attempts and many traps for the unweary!  But I managed to get a few images I am pleased with, and this is just the start of the experiments.

Aireys Inlet Lighthouse F22, 25 sec, ISO 100, 18mm

Aireys Inlet Lighthouse
F22, 25 sec, ISO 100, 18mm

Bird Rock and Jan Juc Cliff.
F22, ISO 100, 20 Sec, 18mm focal length

Addiscot Beach F22, 20 sec, ISO 100, F18 focal length

Addiscot Beach
F22, 20 sec, ISO 100, F18 focal length

Early morning tripod practice!

Over our two weekends in Jan Juc, I also played with slow shutter speed images in the early morning light along the beach, something I very rarely do.  Although we see beautiful sunrises at sea on our catamaran, using a tripod on a boat is useless so I don’t take slow shutter speed photos very often. This exercise has motivated me to get out of bed early on weekends when we are not sailing, or else dinghy ashore with my camera gear while it’s still dark to set myself up on terra firma!

Jan Juc Sunrise taken at 7.17am. 0.8sec, F20, 33mm focal length, tripod.

Jan Juc Sunrise taken at 7.17am.
0.8sec, F20, 33mm focal length.

Taking photos with a friend is great.  Taking photos with a pro like Leanne is a special treat.  Here are a few seascapes, all taken at Jan Juc on the Victorian West Coast.  As always, click on the first image to display the gallery in full screen slide show.

30 thoughts on “Dreamy Seascapes Experiments

  1. Hi Chris, Still half asleep I viewed your photos and what lovely images to wake up to. thanks heaps Christopher

  2. Gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing your learning processes. I’m in need of some early morning tripod practice – you’ve inspired me to get out of bed a little earlier!

  3. Beautiful pictures! I envy you for the possibility to go out with Leanne every now and then… At some point I have to make my way “down” to you guys!

  4. Oh how lovely to get an opportunity to shoot with Leanne! That is so great for you both. I love hearing about your learning process and your images are really beautiful. I love the slow-motion feel of the images, like you are able to slow time. Awesome.

  5. What a great opportunity you have had with wonderful results. Adding to your photographic experience is resulting in beautiful images. Well done

  6. These are absolutely gorgeous pictures!! I’m sooo not a morning person, but your photos have me thinking I really need to try to get up for sunrise. You did a wonderful job 🙂

    • Thanks Kirsten. I must admit to being a late bird and not enjoying being dragged out of bed early on weekends, but once you are up – and with a friend to do a bit of prodding- you don’t regret it! So have a go😊

  7. The dreamy, pastel colors of these images are breathtaking, Chris. I’ve been reading a lot about the use of Neutral Density Filters, but have yet to purchase any. The results of your experimentation are simply amazing (and I love the minimalist compositional elements of your shots.

    • What a lovely compliment Mike, thank you. It’s fun to try different things, that’s the beauty of photography: endless experimentation and learning!

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