A three day workshop with Marc Koegel a Vancouver, BC based photographer turned out to be a really cool way of learning a new skill. Marc was a great teacher as his teaching style was easy to follow and he concentrated his time on the workshop attendees. If you’re not familiar with Marc or his work check him out here.
Not only did I learn about Marc’s technique but I also learned an important aspect of working with my own images. I don’t have to have real to life images! I have been trying for so long to “get it right in camera” that I’ve forgotten to move on to post processing and photo manipulation. Probably the single most important thing I learned was that it was OK to create art from my images. Thanks Marc!
In the spirit of what I learned over the three days I’d like to share some of my work from the workshop and I will. But first, what is long exposure? There are various definitions but the one Marc gave is one I like – “Long exposure is anything that causes movement to be blurred.” Accordingly it can be a 1/250th of a second shot of something so fast that it shows up blurred or it can be a 1 hour shot of the moon transiting the sky at night.
It is the longer exposures I went to the workshop for. The kind that my camera can’t do by itself – not without the aid of really dark filters. Neutral Density filters to be exact. Also known as ND’s, they block light from reaching or camera’s sensor – or at least slow it down. Because the camera has to take so much more time to capture an image all ND’s end up introducing a colour cast. (Mine introduced a heavy magenta colour cast.)
Marc recommended taking a standard well exposed shot then putting the filters on and working from there. This recommendation allows you to compare before and after images for a variety of reasons. For me, it allows me to share the differing results along the way from start to finish.
In the image above the camera was set for a sunny white balance (hence the blue cast) and the rest of the images here have the same white balance setting. I usually would process the image in DXO’s Optics Pro and be done. Something like this would end up being my “default” image.
After putting the ND filters onto the camera – a total of 16 stops (two ND filters, 10 & 6) a recalculation of the duration needs to be done. In the next image a two minute exposure with the 16 stops of filters in place was made.
In this camera processed image the magenta colour cast is because of the low quality filters I purchased. It turns out the Formatt-Hitech filters were likely “old stock” – Marc indicated new ones don’t have this bad of a colour cast. At any rate its easy enough to remove in post processing. So playing around in DXO again I ended up with this one.
The colour cast is still evident but already you can see the effects of a long exposure vs the original. Marc however doesn’t stop there – he likes to convert his images to striking works of art in B&W and with that in mind I didn’t bother trying to rid the remaining cast from the image. My next step was to turn it into my own flavour of a monochrome “art” piece (if I could).
After a couple of tries I’ve come up with a couple of versions.
I’m not done yet – but I think this one is good enough to get a feel for where I’m heading with this style of photography. Today I re-did my post processing with a similar image and I like it better this way.
Leave me a comment, let me know what you think.