In the planning phase for my 10-day NYC trip, I had the idea to take long exposures in daylight. There were two variants to this idea:
1) 60″ exposures to capture the movement of the city while also putting less of an emphasis on individual passers-by, while sharply rendering the landscape or cityscape. Plus, I thought of a cool name for the series: One New York Minute.
2) ~1-5″ exposures to obscure the features of people while still sharply rendering the landscape or cityscape, but not so much that they’re invisible. Even those passing by quickly will be rendered in a blurred state, which nicely shows (rather than implying) the movement of the city.
For the 60″ exposures, I needed to majorly cut down the amount of light hitting my sensor. Otherwise, even at the lowest ISO sensitivity and smallest aperture, you’d get a blown out image with such a long exposure in the middle of the day. And shooting at the absolute smallest aperture will mean reduced sharpness (the sweet spot is almost universally f/8 – f/11). That being said… I still ended up having to shoot at f/18 (the smallest on the lens was f/22) in order to get the exposure I wanted at 60″, even with the ND filter.
As you might imagine, I did not hand-hold this shot, as I do most of the time (and shots like this are the reason I toted my tripod around the whole day, as I previously complained about). If you’re wondering what tripod / head setup I use, I can very highly recommend all of the following:
- Gitzo GT3531S Tripod
- ReallyRightStuff BH-55 LR Ballhead + Lever Clamp
- ReallyRightStuff B5D-L Canon 5D L Bracket
- Canon TC80N3 Remote Timer
I used to have a cheap Manfrotto tripod / ballhead, and it would tend to drift with longer lenses, and it wasn’t reliably stable. The equipment I listed above has been used regularly for commercial shoots where panoramic photography is involved (requiring a great degree of stability, level shots, no sag…). It’s not much fun to carry the stuff all around the city, but if you need them, they won’t let you down.
But I digress – back to the photo itself…
This photo is taken from nearly the same perspective of a shot I’d taken years before, hand-held. The previous shot wasn’t quite as special as I knew it had the potential to be, though. One of the benefits of the long exposure here is that the water has turned to glass. If you look closely, you’ll also notice the faint presence of some others taking in the wonderful view.
Processing involved many steps in Lightroom, though none of it was terribly complicated. Rather than listing out all the steps, in the next couple of days I’ll do another making-of video like the Making of: Woman jogging in central park.