What’s the effect? Photographing landscapes over several minutes can transform an ordinary scene into one that conveys everything from action through streaking clouds, to peace via glass-like water. Coastlines provide a wealth of subject matter, and here in Britain we are no more that 50 miles from any coast.
At times, you can set yourself a challenge like I did here, with a panoramic stitch of Nubble Head Lighthouse in Maine, USA. I wanted to create a long exposure at dawn with the sun just breaking over the island. I had to calculate the total amount of time of all of the exposures to coincide with the sun breaking over the edge of the island. I could have cropped a single file into a panorama, but this would have meant throwing valuable pixels away and I wanted a large file.
What’s the time? To determine the position of the rising sun, I used my Flight Logistics sunrise/sunset calculator. This is a compass and chart that tells you where the sun will rise and set at any location. The ocean wasn’t very photogenic so I decided to use an exposure of 2 mins for each of the four exposures to turn the choppy waves into a smooth surface. I had no idea how the clouds would react over such a long exposure, and this is part of the excitement of using a long exposure. The Lee Big Stopper 10-stop ND filter made it possible to obtain a long enough exposure at f/8. I allowed enough time for the sun to rise above the horizon and break the edge of the island, and calculated back to the time when the first exposure should begin.
After stitching all of my images together, I was pleasantly surprised how the clouds were moving towards the island and drew the eye to the lighthouse. I composed it so the coastline led in from the corner, sweeping around to the island. I love it when a plan comes together!