Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall already? When did that happen?

I guess it has been quite a while since my last update.  Sadly summer has left and fall is in full swing.  I feel that the colors have hit rather early this year, and are not sticking around for long.  Sadly I have not made it out to shoot a whole lot lately, something I need to remedy.  I finally made it out Wednesday after work for a bit to go and shoot down on the Fox River in Appleton.  Shocking, yes, I know, but when in Appleton, it's my favorite place.  One of the main reasons I was really itching to get out and shoot was the arrival of my long awaited new filter.  I have been trying for a couple years to get my hands on a Lee Big Stopper filter.  For some reason it has been out of stock everywhere, but finally it appeared in stock at good ol' B&H photo.  The big stopper is a 10 stop ND filter, which means it is just a very dark piece of glass that blocks a lot of light from getting into the camera.  Why would I want this?  Well, I like motion in my photos, and I have a slight obsession with moving water.  So, this filter allows me to achieve crazy slow shutter speeds which blurs whatever is in the shot.  Ok, example time.

This first shot is just my usual set up.  Tripod, cable release, and Lee graduated .6 ND filter.  All in a slightly precarious position.

Want to get as low as possible without having the camera go for a swim.

Here is the resulting image from the first setup.

Fall on the Fox
Camera settings ISO 200, f/11, 1/15th, at 17mm, Lee .6 Grad ND, tripod, cable release with mirror locked up.

1/15th gives just a hint of blur in the (slow) moving water.  I threw in the Lee Big Stopper, with its 10 magnificent stops of light reducing awesomeness.  The result is a shutter speed of three minutes in the next shot.  It could have been longer, but I upped the ISO to 400 so I would not be there all night.

Mirrored colors of fall
Camera settings ISO 400, f/11, 3 mintues, at 17mm, Lee .6 Grad ND, Lee Big Stopper, tripod, cable release with mirror locked up.

As you can see the result of leaving the shutter open that long is a glass like surface for the water, even the clouds begin to show motion blur.  I should also add that the sun broke below the clouds for this second shot, which is why the trees pop more.  The trees were not in direct sunlight for the first shot.

Walking around some more it was clear that sunset was going to offer up some great color.  Found a spot near a paper mill.   First shot I did without the Big Stopper, I just wanted to make sure to capture all the colors and not let the clouds blur.

Paper Mill Sunset
Camera settings ISO 200, f/11, 2 seconds, at 19mm, Lee .9 grad ND, tripod, cable release with mirror locked up.

After the colors started to fade a bit I threw on the Big Stopper.  Again, I upped the ISO quite a bit and opened up the aperture.  Otherwise it would have been a 30 minute exposure.  Instead I went with a 4 minute exposure, enough to get a little motion in the clouds.

Moving skies.
Camera settings ISO 800, f/8, 4 minutes, at 17mm, Lee .6 Grad ND, Lee Big Stopper, tripod, cable release with mirror locked up.

The Lee Big Stopper is going to open up a whole new set of possibilities for shooting long exposures.  I am very excited to get out and experiment more with it.  If only the weather will cooperate in Madison this weekend...we shall see.