Rodney Campbell's Blog

Bare Island Long Exposures…

by on Jan.11, 2014, under Life, Photography

Headed out to Bare Island at La Perouse in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs with Sabine (a fellow local photographer) one afternoon after work.

We were hoping for better weather really, but we had very heavy overcast skies and really really windy conditions (at ground level at least – up high the clouds weren’t moving very much). It was pretty bleak but we figured we’d give it a try since we were there and to be honest we were just happy it wasn’t raining. As usual the wedding photographers with their brides and grooms were out in force in this beautiful location with this sweet little island just off the mainland joined by this old wooden footbridge.

We arrived well before sunset (a bit over an hour and a half) but there wasn’t much of anything going on weather wise other than a complete cloud cover of albeit chunky interesting clouds. Sabine had recently received her BigStopper so it was long exposure time.

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

This one the first shot after we arrived – a crack in the sky opened up on the left – the sun is somewhere under heavy cloud over to the right – a tighter view of the classic composition looking straight down over the bridge to the island – a bit over 4 minutes exposure at 256 seconds using the Lee BigStopper stacked with a Lee 0.9 Grad and the Heliopan CPL

Classically Bare

Classically Bare

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 32 mm, 256 sec at f/11, ISO 200

Tried a couple more long exposures and pulled back for a wider view – the clouds weren’t moving all that much so I dropped down to ISO 100 for a lazy 9 minute exposure to try and smear the sky a little more

Exceptionally Bare

Exceptionally Bare

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 528 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Whilst I was taking the shot above a wedding couple with their photographer arrived. They took some shots up on the headland where we were and then I could see they were making their way down onto the bridge. When they got close I stopped my exposure and quickly took off the filters (an advantage with the Lee kit – it’s super quick and easy) to take some shots including the couple on the bridge.

They weren’t going to stand anywhere near still enough to include them in a long exposure shot 🙂 but I figured if I could get them in a shot with the same framing I could composite them into the LE frame

My technique for this for those who might be interested:

– ensure I use essentially the same focal length as the shot I want to composite with (in my case I’d only taken a couple LE’s at 32mm and 24mm)
– they were moving so I opened the aperture and bumped the ISO to get a faster shutter
– I only need to use the area just where the couple are so that all I need to get to expose correctly

In post I:

– I shoot RAW and use AutoISO so I adjusted the white balance of the frame with the couple to roughly match that (mostly for the bridge) of the long exposure – the BigStopper gives a blue colour cast to the LE (which my friend Gerry dislikes but I quite like :))
– open the two images as layers in Photoshop
– with the LE frame on top adjust the opacity of that layer so I can see the layer underneath coming through
– manually move the bottom layer to align it with the top (I only need the small bit where the people are so I’m not concerned with it being cropped)
– add a layer mask to the top LE layer and then lightly brush in the couple so they come through from the lower layer (here’s where getting the white balance of the bridge right matters since some of it blends through as well)
– change the opacity of the top layer back to 100 and we’re done

The results of the two composite blends…

Bare Wedding

Bare Wedded

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 32 mm, 256 sec at f/11, ISO 200 & 1/50 sec at f/5.6, ISO 800


Wedded Bare

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 528 sec at f/11, ISO 100 & 1/250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

Unfortunately I didn’t get their contact details so if anyone by chance knows this couple I’d be happy to supply them with the image files if they’d like them

We headed off down onto the island next to try some compositions on the rocks looking back at the mainland. As it was getting closer to sunset the sky opened up a bit away from the setting sun behind us and a little colour started to form. We headed back to where we started to try our luck again with some long exposures. It was getting darker all the time so had to bump the ISO and widen the aperture so I didn’t have to wait for too long an exposure

Bare in Blue

Bare in Blue

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 25 mm, 267 sec at f/8, ISO 400

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