To say that our summer in Wellington a little over a year ago was worse than most winters in France would be an understatement. But I got dramatic skies and heavy grey light, good stuff for long exposure black and whites by the sea. I only published one shot from this series previously, and when I revisited it this one struck me as really interesting.
When it comes to composition, the effects of wide angle on how things sit in the frame is interesting and an opportunity to play around with things. Here the island that was maybe 500 meters from the shore looks really far away, and the rocks at the foot of my tripod look massive. And this was just 15mm, imagine at 10mm !!!
*Where’s the Sun?*
I got up really early on a Sunday morning to catch the sunrise on the Southeastern side of Hong Kong Island. The weather apps said it was going to be a sunny day. Even before I got to Shek O, I knew that would not be the case thanks to the drizzle on my windshield. Weather is not an exact science. But when life gives you lemons you make lemonades, so I shifted from glorious colour sunrise over sea to moody black and white over rocks. I got three good shots out of it, this one is the first.
*Alternate Port Mélite*
Last week I reposted on social media this photo Port Mélite which I took in 2011. The version I posted was an HDR: back then I was experimenting with the technique and although I quickly dropped it, that picture stayed one of my favourite. As I was looking through my collections to publish new long exposure shots this week, I found this alternate shot of the same location (just before and a very slightly different angle) and wondered if with the changes in Lightroom since 2011 and my changes in taste and editing skill I might produce a satisfying photo from the single shot. I’m pleased to say that I did, and I actually prefer the softer, more subdued tones of this alternate version.
Let me tell you about my late beanbag. For nearly five years I used the same beanbag made of a packet of dried chickpeas in two sealed ziplocks. It was fantastic and allowed me to do these kinds of really low on the ground long exposures. Sadly, it was confiscated when I went to New Zealand on holiday since it was considered a food import. Oh well, it’ll cost me $2 to get a new one using the same method! Anyway, sunset, a puddle of water captures in the rocks but also the sea in the background, and a great kind of metallic rusty look on the rocks themselves. It was bound to work.
*Bir Hakeim Bridge*
Sometimes you don’t do long expos for specific effects like freezing water or light trails, sometimes you just do them because it’s dark and you want pin sharp focus and low ISO. This was the case here. In fact, looking back, I’m so lucky to have had this shot: this spot is very favoured by wedding photographers and it’s very rare that there isn’t some sort of shoot going on. There was that night, but they were behind me!
*The Quiet of the Blue Hour*
Lately I’ve been revisiting some old photos I never published. This is a very long exposure (60s) from 2011. I haven’t experimented with super long exposures as much as I should have, as this shot proves (I think). Also, the blue hour is really interesting: once the sun has set there’s still some light (depending on latitude) for a while, but it turns blue, hence the name. Quite evident here, the picture looks split-toned but it’s not, these are slightly tweaked colours as they were captured by the sensor.
*The Colors of Dawn*
One of the truly magical things about dawn is how quickly the light changes. I shot this a few minutes after sunrise, and the light was still purple. A minute later, it was a glorious gold. It was devilishly cold that morning (especially for me now that I live in mild temperatures Hong Kong) but really worth the 6 AM trip.
*Shadows of Brooklyn*
I got in early to catch the southern tip of Manhattan in the sunrise. There was a moment just as the sun was emerging above Brooklyn when the shadows of the skyscapers there projected onto the Manhattan skyline. This is what I captured here. I decided to give it a black and white treatment to emphasize these shadows.
Pier 7 on Embarcadero is an old fashioned wooden pier lined with metal benches and lamplights. At night it’s nearly empty and offers a very cool symmetrical perspective which I was quick to take advantage of. I wanted a low vantage point, which was tricky because my handmade beanbag (ziplock + dried chickpeas) was confiscated last time I went to New Zealand. So this was precariously balanced on my photo bag…