The visual appeal of long exposures

Having been either a full-time pro or serious amateur for the last 20 years or so, I’ve been down more than a few roads when it comes to content and creative expression.  I know there’s still a ton I want to do, but I’ve become particularly fond of the long exposure.  Why?  Well, frankly I get bored quite easily with traditional photography methods, unless of course it’s client driven.  Adding a long exposure, coupled with add-ons like artificial lighting, painting, movement etc. keeps me geared up if you will.  That excitement keeps me feeling fresh -much like minty toothpaste 🙂

For the first image you see I was scouting for a workshop my friend and business partner were hosting the following week.  This is Mt. Robson, BC’s second highest peak, and stunning all by itself.  But I had a vision in mind so I set up and waited.  Traffic was light that night but at last a large rig came onto the scene with great tail lights  and after a 30 second exposure I was able to come away with something I was pretty jacked up about.  Look for a good story in your images, something the viewer can take away and imagine.  It becomes alive that way, emotive and captivating, and it’ll keep you pumped for the next shoot!

For my ‘Ballerinas-a Photographic journey’ series I wanted to use a longer exposure to emphasize the ‘city feel’, while using the dancer in a static pose in order to create a more impactual feel.  The difficulty with a shoot of this magnitude however develops when the dancer needs to be deadly still for about 1/2 second…not easy!  That’s about the time required to give traffic the flow and blur look.   I was very pleased with the end result!

For the last image I had hiked for 3 hours to a place called the Knuckleheads, Southeast of Powell River on the Sunshine coast of BC’s coast mountain range.  I was on assignment and feeling a bit of pressure to produce strong results after a day of relentless snow.  I did manage to pull off enough during the day I was fairly confident with but I had conceptualized this cabin image since arriving about mid-day.
For this image, I used a 20 second exposure, with a medium sized flash light for light painting the snowshoes and the snow on the front balcony, creating a warm, cozy feeling, once again emotive.  The long exposure allowed the cabin’s lights to illuminate the snow on the right in a very dramatic way, thus adding to the drama.  This was my favorite of the trip and the client was ecstatic.

Long exposures require a bit more thinking, but allow for so much more creativity and vision, and for me that’s most of the fun.  You’ll also get that added drama that will make your images pop off the page, whether it’s for your family or your client…

These and other techniques will be showcased during my Kamloops workshop ‘Dusk and Evening Urban Landscapes’.  Check out the ‘Workshops’ tab on my website HERE

Good luck!  Cheers, K


~ by Kelly Funk Photography on January 30, 2012.

2 Responses to “The visual appeal of long exposures”

  1. What a great post – perfect combination of compelling pictures, the stories behind them, and the techniques you used. I imagine your workshops are just as well crafted!

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