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Shooting long exposures of the sea

Shooting long exposures of the sea - Tips on using long exposures to add some creative blur to the sea.

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Category : Landscape and Travel
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Using long exposures to blur the movement of water as it laps against the land isn't a new technique but it is one that works well and never really seems to go out of fashion.


Skye Neist Point
Photo by David Clapp.

Gear:
  • Tripod – a strong, sturdy tripod is a must for this technique. Vanguard have a wide selection of award-winning tripods perfect for landscape photography. Take a look at their Alta Pro 263AGH model which has unmatched versatility and stability.
  • ND Filter – reduce the amount of light reaching the camera's sensor
  • Remote release – helps prevent camera shake
  • Stopwatch – will help you keep track of particularly lengthy exposure times
Technique:
As this technique is all about using slow shutter speeds you need to keep your ISO as low as possible and use the smallest aperture available to minimise the amount of light that reaches the sensor. The bad news is, even if you do lower your ISO to 100 and use an aperture of f/22 your shutter speeds probably won't be slow enough to create the dream-like images we are looking for. To get the slower speeds you'll need an ND filter to reduce the amount of light that goes through the lens. Waiting for the sun to set is another, more obvious way, to reduce the amount of light that reaches the sensor. It also means you'll have a sky that's bursting with fantastic sunset colours.

To make the sea silky-smooth you'll need an exposure of 5 seconds or more. However, if you want to really blur the waves, giving the impression that dry ice is floating along the coast, you'll need exposures of 15 seconds or more. If you want some of the shapes formed by the waves to still be visible somewhere between 1-5 seconds will work nicely. However, your exposure times can change if it's a particularly choppy day.

If you want to explore very long exposures, take a look at our previous article: Long Exposures.

Find the tripod and camera bag to suit your needs at www.vanguardworld.com






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