Long Exposure Studies (Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime)


Good Evening:

Last winter, I published a nighttime photo that managed to be both disastrously bad and rather interesting.


I had attempted a handheld 30 second exposure of figure skaters when some kid accidentally knocked the camera off the perch, but I grabbed it in time. Finally, happenstance, luck and chance presented the opportunity to try again.

The idea consisted of this: hold the camera on an object long enough that you can clearly see it, then move the camera around to try and get some cool streaky effects. Learned a lot from this evening’s experiments.

First, I didn’t need a 30 second exposure; at least, not in brightly lit downtown San Francisco. Ten seconds suffice. Second, most of those ten seconds should go to holding the camera still to capture the key object, the subject of the picture. But this is all tentative, and I reserve the right to change my mind.

Union Square has two large heart sculptures. I started with the shadowed one. All shots taken with my Nikon D40 DSLR, and I have not edited any of them. I held the camera still for ten seconds.


Now, one of the moving shots. I held the camera still for about 7 seconds, moved it for 3.


Looks kinda sorta interesting. The loops do some interesting work. Big problem: the shadowed heart does not show up so well. Therefore I moved to the well lit heart. First, a ten second still shot.


Now one of the interesting shots with movement. About 7 seconds still, 3 seconds of motion.


I think the bright lit subject works better.

I have some ideas for further improvements. I swung the camera around in large arcs, squares, circles or figure eights. The results might look better with smaller motions, perhaps keeping the main object in the frame during the motion period. At this point, still seems an experiment worth revisiting a few times.

Vonn Scott Bair

3 responses »

    • Helen C: Thanks for commenting. In reexamining the pictures, I *might* have learned something else. It might work better if the subject was brightly lit, but brightly lit against a dark background. Definitely need to keep experimenting. Vonn Scott Bair

  1. Pingback: San Francisco at Night: Color & Noir. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime) | The San Francisco Scene--Seen!

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