Using Time

July 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Time is the same for everyone, so how can you use time to your advantage when creating photographic art?  The answer is to let the camera capture time in longer increments, so that a scene or situation plays out. Obviously you can't do this in all situations, but try using this technique for clouds, water, storms, moving grass or anything that tells a story over time.

One classic approach is to set your shutter to "bulb" and press the shutter when something is about to happen, then release it to capture the scene.  This works great with fireworks, lightning, ocean surf or anything else that has movement with variable lighting. A good aperture to use is f/8, and make sure your auto focus is turned off.  

In this photo, the cloud lightning was intensely beautiful, but it was difficult to gather all the light in a few seconds. I tried holding the shutter open when it was relatively quiet, then right after a batch of lightning struck, released the shutter.  The last bit of lightning that moved through the clouds seemed to make a good impression on the camera's sensor, thus enabling it to be more pronounced. 

Iowa, clouds, lightning, storm, landscape, natureLightning Clouds

Stretching time out to capture multiple events can have some great results. This photo had about a 48 second exposure time, so depending on your lighting situation, tons of things can elapse and be captured on your sensor.  It's hard to believe that holding the shutter open for so long could yield good results, but it does! Make sure you set your ISO in the lower ranges (100-800) to keep sensor noise to a minimum. Most modern cameras do just fine at those ranges even if the exposure is for several minutes.  

So many good things can be captured and shared using this time technique.  But remember to use your tripod, since it's humanly impossible to hold your camera steady for more than a split second!  


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