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Here are the finished long exposures from yesterday’s trip to Toucheng beach in Northern Yilan.

For some images I focus on clarity, bringing back some details from the washed out water and clouds. On others I preferred to push contrast and create a more abstract look.

I don’t have a personal preference, both visual styles are appealing to me so I decided to post the full set of images and upload them on Flickr. Some technical details at the end of the post, enjoy (hopefully!) the images.

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All these pictures were taken on Canon 6D with 17-40mm lens, variable ND filter and, of course, a sturdy tripod. Each image is a 15+ seconds exposure, those with higher contrast are 30/40 seconds. This is because the longer the exposure the more details are washed out and ‘lost”, becoming completely white highlights.

Taking these pictures is not hard from a technical point of view, but for me the hardest steps were:

a) Composition. It’s really, really hard to visualize a picture knowing that the sky will be for the most part blown out, and the main subjects inside the frame (rocks, tree branches etc) will look like they’re floating by themselves on a sea of whiteness. Basically I had to ignore everything that was not completely above the water and compose with only those objects in mind.

b) My ND filter is a fairly cheap variable filter from Sunpower. There’s only so much light that it can block, so in order to achieve really long exposure times during a cloudy morning I had to shoot at f22. Some images were even ruined by the sun suddenly showing up behind the clouds, over exposing everything. The problem of f22 though, is that every tiny speck of dust on the sensor shows up in the image. I tend to take landscape shots at f11 or something along those lines and cleaning images takes at the most 10 seconds. At f22….holy cow. Dust everywhere, I spent at least 10 minutes cleaning each image in Paintshop.

I have a new ND filter that I ordered from Hong Kong but I’ve not had the chance to try it yet. It’s supposed to block even more light, and that would allow me to take pictures at more reasonable apertures. I’ll carry it with me next time that I pass by a river with a goof water flow or next trip to the beach. My current filter creates a horrible purple cast on the image. It’s not an issue if I want to take black and white images, I’ll have to pay attention to that and avoid using it for other purposes.

Anyway, I’m fairly happy about my images. There’s room for improvement but I’m glad that I finally had the chance to play with this kind of photography style.