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Tag Archives: time exposure

beach 4

This is the last in a series of night beach scenes I shot last December on The Big Island (Hawai’i).  Today’s image, as well as those from the last three posts, were all shot on one night by moonlight.  For the record, it was not a full moon, but roughly about half-full.  These were all 30-second exposures.

I didn’t really set out to do night photography per se that particular night.  Rather, a friend who lives on The Big Island and I were going to hike out to see and shoot the lava.  When we got to the end of the road, we couldn’t see much of a glow from the lava, and rather than “waste” a hike out and back, we decided to try again the following night.

So there we were at 3:00 AM, all dressed up and nowhere to go.  My friend decided to drive along the coast to show me some pretty beaches that visitors seldom find.  Since I had all my camera gear with me in anticipation of shooting lava, I shot some beach scenes instead.

Some people think there’s some trick to shooting these scenes at night.  Honestly, the adage of “90% of success is just showing  up” holds true here.  A tripod is a must.  It helps to have an eye for landscape composition.  Exposure is a little trial and error at first to get a well-exposed image with as slow an ISO as possible to minimize grain.

I’m partial to 30-second exposures because I like very blurry water.  But you can certainly try a 10 or 15 second exposure and see if you like the results.


Fun with rivers!  Find an area where water is flowing over rocks that are partially and/or completely submerged (but close to the surface).  Put your camera on a tripod and using a mid-length or telephoto lens, take some images of the water flowing with at least a 1 second exposure.  Check your histogram periodically to ensure that you’re not overexposing.  “Blinkies” are usually unavoidable in this situation, but make sure they’re a small portion of the entire image.

It’s fun to see what your camera sees here, which is usually very different from what your eyes are seeing.  Some images will work and others won’t.  Experiment.  See if you can capture the essence of flowing water!

This image was shot at 100 ISO, f/45, 1.3 seconds using a 560 mm lens.