Recently I have been trying to get a photo of movement of a waterfall for a customer. My first stop was Penllergare Valley Woods. The waterfall there may not be a terribly big waterfall but is very diverse. It has a lot of texture to the rocks, rocks that jut out slightly which changes the direction of the falling water, a good size pool at the bottom and a 3 way split of the water making it look like 3 waterfalls in one. All of these things add so much interest and add to composition of the picture. Personally I feel the changes in the direction the water is flowing is very important when trying to get a good long exposure.
Long exposure photographs have become very popular over the last few years. A few examples of popular long exposure subjects. Check out some examples of these on google or Instagram.
Movement of water/waterfalls/river - Water crashing against rocks, changing direction, any thing that creates white water.
Clouds - These can work well against architecture. Contrasting the sharp lines of building against the softness of the blurred clouds.
Motorway at night - Getting the red blurs of taillights one way and white blurs of headlights the other.
Astro photography - To capture the stars you have to have a long exposure to getting enough of the light coming from the stars for them to really show up on in a capture. Put the shutter speed even longer and the stars blur in a circular motion, your capturing the rotation of the Earth itself.
Light drawing - Holding a torch or as we have just had fireworks night a sparkler and waving it to write or make shapes. These are art in themselves. Some are really complex but I find the simpler ones more effective.
Street photography - Capturing the movement of people at a crossing or street will accentuate the busyness and hustle and bustle of a lot of people.
Shooting a long exposure in low light, evening or at night can for the most part be quite straight forward. However if you try to do the same thing in bright light or midday sun you will find that the picture will come out almost completely burnt out and over exposed. Some parts of the picture become so bright that no detail is captured by the sensor at all. Below is a deliberate example of an over exposed long exposure.
Because the shutter is open for 8 seconds or 10 seconds too much light is hitting the sensor. Fine for night time but not for bright light. You can just make out what it is but no definition in any part of the picture. To avoid this from happening you will need an ND filter. This will cut the amount of light coming into the sensor.
There are different density filter available. ND2 which cut the amount of light by 2 times. ND4 which cuts light by 4 times. ND8 etc.... However you can by a variable ND filter which you can make darker yourself by turning the front (below).
That means you can use the settings you want to capture the movement you need but you have a way of cutting the light to exactly to what you want. This can turn what would have been a horrible over exposed picture into a well exposed picture, which post production I had this:
This was a great learning curve for me as well and will definitely be visiting more beaches and waterfalls, even the M4 at night to get some more wonderful long exposure pictures. Hopefully this helps some of you reading this as well.