Speaker – Paul Parkinson (ARPS, CPAGB, BPE2) – A shortish walk through Long Exposure

By | 7th March 2024

5 March 2024

We were delighted to welcome Paul Parkinson ARPS CPAGB BPE2 to speak to us about his journey into Long Exposure photography, including many helpful hints and tips.

Paul is based in Sidcup (North West Kent), on the boundary of London. He is a member of the Aperture Woolwich Photographic Society and is an Accredited Judge for the Kent Photographic Association.

Paul began by defining Long Exposure photography as “Photographs which, through the shutter speed selected, show the passage of time in some way” and then gave some examples in popular subjects of photography:

Landscapes – blur the moving clouds, leaves on trees, or waving grass
Seascapes – soften the water or make it completely flat
Waterfalls and rivers – textured / creamy / flat water
Architecture – blur skies with soft streaks of clouds and to make crowds on the street disappear
People – to make ghostlike appearances of crowds with people
Traffic – headlights, streaks, impressions

Paul gave us his first piece of advice when buying filters for Long Exposure photography. In that he would buy circular filters, for his largest lens filter thread (i.e. 77mm or 82mm), and then buy stepping rings for the smaller lens filter threads. Then he would just buy a circular polarising lens (CPL), a 3-stop ND filter, a 6-stop ND filter and a 10-stop ND filter.

There are various phone apps that help calculate the exposure time, based upon the ambient light without filters attached. You simply enter your ambient settings and the app will give the exposure time for the filters you want to use.

Putting it together:

Exposure time up to 30 Seconds

  • Water – Visible streaks and direction of movement
  • Clouds – Strong detail with soft edges
  • People & Traffic – Shapes of people and traffic still visible, but ghostly.

30 Seconds – 3 Minutes

  • Water – Less to no texture or sense of direction. Soft and smooth like ice (for rivers) or pouring cream (for waterfalls)
  • Clouds – Little detail if camera is pointed upwards Soft and blurry if camera is pointed outwards
  • People & Traffic – Shapes become less visible and ghosting becomes softer

3 Minutes and longer

  • Water – No texture at all, very ethereal
  • Clouds – No detail if camera is pointed upwards, just soft streaks; softer with less shape and ethereal quality if camera is pointed “outwards”
  • People & Traffic – People and traffic will disappear entirely leaving only some ghosting

Setting up, the camera needs to be held still, on a tripod or Platypod. Also:

  • Switch off image stabilisation
  • Focus on the subject and take a meter reading without the filter
  • Switch to manual focus / switch off autofocus
  • Leave the aperture the same as it was when the meter reading was taken
  • Put the filter in front of the lens (screw in or drop in)
  • Adjust the shutter speed to get a good exposure
  • For Cameras with a mirror, cover the mirror dome to prevent light leak.
  • Activate the shutter release using a cable release or the camera’s self- timer mode to prevent moving the camera

Paul recommended a number of Learning resources:

  • Joel Tjintjelaar (Long Exposure) Portfolio
  • Julia Anna Gospodarou (Long Exposure) Gallery
  • Jay at Vulture Labs (Long Exposure) Gallery
  • Rob Canis (Long Exposure) Gallery
  • Dibs McCallum (Long Exposure) Portfolio
  • Thomas Heaton (Landscapes) Gallery
  • Andy Gray (ICM) Website
  • Nigel Danson (Landscapes) Gallery
  • James Popsys (Landscapes) Website 
  • Iñaki Hernández-Lasa FRPS (Architecture) Portfolio

Also to use YouTube to  learn about how to edit your results. Especially techniques such as: Image blending; Masks; luminosity masks; and dodging and burning.

Paul then discussed Intentional Camera Movement (ICM).

He recommended setting your camera up for a extended exposure image: 1/2s to 6 seconds is reasonable.

It is probably a filter will be needed for this. Use a phone app to calculate the strength required, but a polariser might be enough. Diffraction is less of an issue so feel free to use high f/stops, as images won’t be sharp.

Paul then walked us through examples of his work using ICM and Long Exposure, and discussed some options when it came to editing the results.

Paul is currently experimenting with hand held Smartphone photography, using an iPhone and the ReeHeld app and showed us some early results.

Paul closed with a review of his ARPS Panel, which was very enjoyable. All round a great talk with lots of practical advice and tips.  Thank you Paul.