Looking at waves captivates us just as much as looking at an open fire. Digital photography provides us with very short shutter speeds or exposure times static, better: frozen images of the ups and downs of water movements.
There are no creative limits when trying to extend exposure times (or shutter speeds) instead of further shortening them, at most technical ones. Longer exposure times merge several moments of water movement and thus paradoxically have a dynamic effect, meaning a look and feel of a movement.
There is no right or wrong exposure time. There is a special impression for each exposure time in the fusion image of several moments.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. By experimenting with a neutral density filter of 10 EV I managed to get at a not too long exposure time of 1/4s to 1/3s making waves look like painted. With only economical digital post-processing worth seeing images were created.
Always changing weather conditions is normal on Sylt, the northern most island of Germany. Heat, winds and rain alternate continuously. Just arrived I had to go straight to the beach, where clouds and sun welcomed me at the same time.
The on average better weather awaits one in the north, the so-called elbow, a peninsula near List. A lot of unused beach chairs with low numbers are standing there.
Some 40 km south one finds the south tip of Sylt with its characteristic lighthouse. Many lighthouses can be found on this island, which is surrounded by sandbanks and often changing flow conditions of the water at low or high tide.
A beach walk is accompanied by many birds, seagulls mostly, but also cormorants or sandpipers. Sometimes you flush them out unvoluntarily and they fly wildly confused.
Cyclists become tiny like ants against the seemingly overpowering clouds. Without mountains one loses any scale.
Experimenting with longtime exposure my first results of waves at the beaches are not yet convincing. Three seconds turn out to be a vivid interval of the time fusion on my sensor.
I didn’t what would happen this rainy day. But the waves and surf on the mole was so beautiful, that I forgot the time.
All of a sudden I got an text without possibility to answer or to ask back. Transfer tomorrow cancelled. Nothing special in the world, but my friend was in need to reach Lucerne tomorrow.
Back in my hotel I got everything organized: a ferry boat at 6pm, a train to Hamburg tonight, 2 single rooms for Monald and me in a nice hotel at the harbor. And a gorgeous day for photographers extra in Hamburg. I could keep cool blood all the time. My allergic reactions to pollen had left me in Heligoland once more immediately. It’s been worth the break with a lot of travelling, having a good friend with me.
Two short days and much recreation. We will have a lot of fun with the next waves to come this evening.
On the penultimate day of our Out of Yosemite conference in Yosemite Valley, the Bridalveil Fall with Charlotte Gibb as instructor was on the agenda that Saturday morning at 6am. I hoped that by participating in her workshop I would gain a less technical or more creative approach to photography of waterfalls.
She gave us the topic of long time exposure in the preliminary discussion. The spot offers little freedom of movement. There was not much room for all of us, and on top that there were every now and then some people walking around in our compositions.
Bridalveil Fall shows a strong variability of location due to the influence of air movement. Especially at sunrise you can clearly feel the rising winds. So you don’t have much time for camera setup. An ensemble of stones in the waterfall can all of a sudden become dry and the composition becomes useless. In return, the neighbouring region becomes dripping wet and appears in a new light.
I know pictures from long time exposures with moving water. They’re interseting sometimes. I rarely find them really good. Often they exhibit a strong technical assessment and their message ist not really accessible to me.
I begann to study sections of the waterfall, which meant that the rock formations in the composition always showed a new character. That way many compositions can be made.
Probably an image that expresses changeability and constancy is best suited to make us think about the origin of the world. Planets orbiting their central star are a well known example for this. Or stars that orbit the black hole of our Milky Way in 11 years.
My last picture of Bridalveil Fall, with its interplay of light and dark, of flowing and solidification, steps and flow, forms and dissolution of forms, shows the coexistence of changeability and constancy. That’s what makes it so attractive to me.
Inspired by a photography of german photographer Michael Wesely, I tried to superimpose the movements of orange tulips in a white vase to create an equivalent to a longtime exposure image. A longtime exposure with 3 or 4 days exposure time was unfortunately not possible for me. Therefore I took 35 pictures with my camera at irregular intervals dictated by occupational requirements whose pixels were to be averaged. Here 4 examples of the highly active flowers in a vase:
Each RAW image has a file size of 125 MB, after RAW conversion this was 580 MB per image as TIF. The entire stack had a size of 21,5 GB. The image of the average then becomes 580 MB again. The pure mean value image was interesting to me but not exciting. Therefore I took this image and layered in parts of original images. The result became convincing:
A short trip for recreation in Bavaria led us to a completely sunny Bad Tölz at the Isar river. That way I also increased my knowledge of local geography. With a long time exposure, taken without a filter, only with a large aperture and low ISO, some assembled pebbles on the ground instead of a tripod, I wanted to capture the wave play of river Isar.
It was only in our hotel on the computer that the resulting structure became more interesting and clear to me. For Christa the image shows picturesque brush strokes of an oil painting. I can think of the surface structure of the sun which is a fiery dance of magnetic field lines and mass distributions of hydrogen.
In the evening a long sunset glowed for us in Königsdorf. The rotational planes of sun, moon and earth are quite close and in a few days we expect a partial lunar eclipse.
The light takes 8 minutes from the sun to the earth. Due to atmosphere it remains visible to us longer than the sun itself.