Master mono seascapes

Take a minimalist ap­proach by learn­ing how to cre­ate ethe­real long-ex­po­sure seascapes, with James Paterson

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

Dis­cover how to cap­ture a minimalist coastal scene

Few things high­light the en­gi­neered magic of pho­tog­ra­phy more than a long ex­po­sure

Pho­tog­ra­phers of­ten ob­sess about de­tail, sharp­ness and res­o­lu­tion. But sim­plic­ity can be just as pow­er­ful. By par­ing down im­ages to the bare el­e­ments we can cre­ate beau­ti­ful, minimalist art­work. In this project we’ll show you how, from set­ting up and shoot­ing long ex­po­sures, to strip­ping out the colour for a gor­geous mono­chrome fin­ish.

There are few things that high­light the en­gi­neered magic of pho­tog­ra­phy more than a long ex­po­sure. When we stretch out our shut­ter speeds to sev­eral sec­onds, or even min­utes, any mo­tion in the scene is recorded as a beau­ti­ful silky blur. The abil­ity it gives us to present ev­ery­day scenes in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way can be hugely ef­fec­tive. It gives them a sur­real, calm qual­ity that feels minimalist.

This is be­cause, for cer­tain scenes, the smooth­ing ef­fect of mo­tion blur is a great sim­pli­fier. Seas are a per­fect ex­am­ple of this. Pho­tographed nor­mally, choppy seas are full of de­tail – there are all the dips and ridges on the sur­face, foam­ing waves, spray and even float­ing de­bris. But when a longer shut­ter speed is used, all of this is erad­i­cated, trans­form­ing those dis­tract­ing, busy de­tails into a smooth, glossy sur­face.

Ex­tend­ing your shut­ter speed to en­tire min­utes dur­ing the day re­quires a strong, near-opaque Neu­tral Den­sity (ND) fil­ter to slow the flow of light into your cam­era, plus a tri­pod and a few sim­ple cam­era skills. This all takes metic­u­lous at­ten­tion to de­tail and you might only come away with one or two good shots, but that’s all you need…

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