There are a couple of items necessary to capture long exposures, first is dim lighting conditions. We can't control the sun but we can control when we go shooting, so for dimmer light I go on overcast and cloudy days and during dusk hours around sunrise and sunset. Along with a carefully picked time of day, I also go into the field with a couple of filters known as Neutral Density Filters, which cut the amount of light that enters the camera by varying degrees. You may have heard me mention them before, but there are a couple different kinds. Individual ND filters can be purchased at different densities, i.e. each filter prevents a certain amount of light from passing through. There are also Variable Neutral Density filters which utilize two polarizers together to can give you a range of densities, minimizing the need to cary multiple standard ND filters that can only cut a fixed amount of light. Another handy tool for landscapes and seascapes is the Graduated Neutral Density Filter which is half clear glass and half neutral density, fading gradually between the two. So with a Gradual ND Filter only half of the light entering the camera is reduced, which is terrific for landscapes because the sky will always be at least 1/3 of a stop brighter than the foreground! The Gradual ND Filter allows you to darken the sky without darkening the foreground all in one shot, saving time from capturing multiple exposures.
My arsenal is now as complete with a fixed ND filter, a Variable ND and a Graduated ND. So I set out to use my new filters in a new location, Brenton Point of Newport, where I would have a great view of the setting sun. Although sunset was rather pale and muted, I still enjoyed capturing the water flowing over rocks at low tide and decided to return the next day as well.
Day two at Brenton Point was the day just before Hurricane Sandy made landfall. The sky was dark and ominous, the wind was blowing from behind me and a light rain was falling on my back. It was much colder and the water was incredibly turbulent, mixing about from wind and tide. As we all know now, Hurricane Sandy made landfall for us during high tide, creating an enormous storm surge that swept away beaches, sand, rocks, seawalls, houses, boats, and the like. This image below during my dusk shoot before the nasty weather hit gives you an idea of just how dark the weather turned, and this was taken about an hour before sunset. Although blurred by the long exposure, you can just make out the waves frothing about as well.
I captured three versions of this scene, and transformed one of my favorites into a striking black and white. Be sure to see all the shots at my website www.catebrownphoto.com under Limited Edition Prints and Seascapes in the Photography Catalog. Prints are available! Order online or contact me for details and pricing if you're interested!