Longtime exposures hold a special appeal for me. Again and again I try do do it. I found the idea for this picture in a book about modern photography. The photographer took a picture of flowers in a vase with a specially built camera for many days until the first petals fell. The passing of time, which often cannot be experienced directly by us, can thus be illustrated by a photograph. Due to the new corona virus we had plenty of time at home to make flower photographs.
With my macro lens I can only realize the aperture value f/32, which means that even at ISO 50 the exposure time dose not rise above 15s possible when the lightbox is turned on. As an approximation to a true long-time exposure, I started a series of 23 HDR images at irregular intervals over the course of 4 days, just as it became apparent that my tulips would rise wide.
Each HDR image was created from6 shots at f/32 and ISO 50 with exposure times of 0.5s, 1s, 2s, 4s, 8s and 15s. The biggest difficulty was to block off a part of our living room before Christmas so that the exposures could always be done in the same way. Furthermore, the camera was not allowed to be changed by switching it on and off, changing the exposure times or removing the memory card.
I processed the layer stack of 23 TIF images in two ways. First straightforward as a smart object and then change the stacking mode in Photoshop as an average. Or fade out the layers after the start shot using black layer masks and gradually paint in interesting parts of the later images with a soft brush to create an overall impression. This approach was more promising to me than averaging the layer stack, which in my eyes expresses the flow of time too weakly.
Just to do the math: each image of my camera has 151 million pixels with a file size between 125 and 180 MByte in RAW format and 866 MByte after a RAW conversion to a TIF file. The total size of the project is something above 300 GB. 138 RAW files sum up to nearly 21 Billion Pixels. The final image has 159 million pixels due to some added background at the top of the result.
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.
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:
Time fusion is something I couldn’t find elsewhere. Basically it is a longtime exposure. Nothing new so far. Why making a point ?
Longtime exposures fascinate me. There are famous ones of extreme long exposure times, say one year. The camera is always at the same location. What happens with a moving camera while doing a longtime exposure ? Motion blur !
A photographer typically uses a shake or a rotation of his camera while holding it in his hands or e.g. mounted on a tripod with full flexible ball head. Postproduction uses a single shot or a combination of blurred and non-blurred images to get a result.
Here is the new idea. Sun was shining and green and yellow summer fields exerted a strong attraction to me while driving at high speed from Heidelberg to Paris using a TGV train. With my iPhone looking out of a train window I started to experiment with the Slow Shutter App. The motion blur gets a horizontal orientation with some landscape in the background of an image. The foreground is completely blurred. Some light reflections of the train window are always added. No rotational or shaky effect occurs.
Compare this method to a single shot motion blur during the sunset at Sylt island or to the yellow trees in the High Sierra, CA. The foreground has to be more marked, the background tends to be more blurred.