Posted by: David Vernon | December 15, 2010

Project Double Take #23 – Long Exposure

The person* who put the schedule together for Project Double Take made some interesting choices. Asking us to shoot waterfalls in the fall when most local watering holes had dried up. Lunacy. How about the notion of taking long exposures AFTER it got pretty cold out? Why not in July or August? Complete insanity. And yet – here we are – showing off long exposures in December. Next time… next time.

So we had one rule with long exposures – it had to be 30 seconds or longer. The obvious choice for such a thing is a smaller aperture on a moonless night – or at least a night before the moon rise. That’s exactly the approach Stacy took – getting in her shot just minutes before the moon rose a couple of weeks ago. More on her shot in a moment. I took a different approach – I went with the daytime shot – and I used between 9 and 12 stops of neutral density filters to do it. But in reality this is a kind of shot that Stacy and I have both come to love this year.

My shot – which clocked in at two minutes and thirteen seconds was achieved at f/22 and ISO 100.  And it was also done with a 3-stop and a 6-stop neutral density filter dialed in on the front of my lens. And then a further 3-stop graduated neutral density filter further darkening the sky. The overall effect, as the sky moved towards me, was to create a varied painterly effect on the clouds as they burned in at different spots all along the exposure. My shot also came right at sunset. The sun was just then creeping below the horizon just above the big log in the river – and I got some wonderful color in my image. I trekked down to the Mackinaw River one more time – at the same place and time of day (sunset) as we did in our PDT for the Mackinaw River. With no leaves left on the trees, the overall look is familiar while not quite the same.

Stacy’s exposure – done at night – worked the opposite way. Her exposure time was four minutes and eighteen seconds – at f/4 and ISO 100. If you consider my sky had 12 stops of ND on it, and that her aperture was five stops more open then mine – our images were 14 to 17 stops apart. And that folks is the difference between night and day. Shot over at Eureka Lake, on the northwest side of Eureka, IL, Stacy dialed in on a tree that perilously overhung the lake. Shooting to the west, you can see the star trails working their way around Polaris – out of frame to the right. The spot – in the park on the east end of the lake – had a mercury-vapor lamp casting a slightly greenish tint on our leaning tree. Get the rest of the story over on Stacy’s blog of course.

Just two posts left in this – Near/Far (one week from today) and Film (two weeks from today). I know for a fact that we are both finally done with film – but we’re going to have to get out in this lovely (read crappy) Central Illinois weather one more time to finish off PDT #24. See you next week.

* – the person who scheduled PDT by the way: me. But you probably figured that out already.


  1. Both shots are great….I shoot film pretty often, but alot of photographers dont care for it, digital seems to be the norm nowadays.


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