Long Exposure Photography at Alum and Freshwater Bays
September marks the first noticeable change in the seasons. The nights are closing in and there is a chill in the air after the sun goes down. I love photographing in the Autumn. The weather is unpredictable and produces interesting skies, and you don’t have to wake up so early to catch the good light and I’m always up for a long exposure photo or two.
In previous posts I’ve mentioned my love for long exposure photography. The slowing down and thinking needed to produce a nice (well-exposed) image. The other evening I headed down to Alum Bay after the sun had set to photograph the ‘weirdly interesting in it’s ugliness’ bottom of the chairlift with a long exposure. This takes people from the pleasure park at the top of the cliff, to the beach at the bottom to look at the famous coloured sands. There was a northerly breeze blowing that made it a little fresh, and whipped the sea up slightly rougher than normal, but that is almost preferable for a long exposure shot.
There was still a lovely glow to the light as Alum Bay faces west but it was still a little lighter than I wanted, so I unpacked my lovely LEE Big Stopper to pull the exposures down from the 10ths of seconds into the minutes. One thing I love about shooting on the Fuji Xpro-2 (that was also evident with my XE-1) is that in low light levels (and with a 10-stop ND filter on the front) somehow the camera can still see with the EVF, allowing me to compose and frame up the shot. Sometimes technology is a wonderful thing.
On the way back up the cliffs, I noticed the light in the east from the Harvest moon rising and the light falling on the coloured cliffs so set about taking another photo. The “harvest moon”, the closest full moon to the Autumn equinox, it rises very soon after sunset and is usually pretty bright. I’ve always meant to photograph the harvest moon in some capacity but usually ended up forgetting when it happened. This time I was out more by luck than anything.
Heading home, the moon had risen fully and in the cloudless sky was now really bright so I stopped off at Freshwater Bay and captured a few more long exposure shots. I can’t remember the last time I photographed scenes at night and could clearly seen inside my camera bag from the moonlight. Still being able to see things clearly and with colour at night was very odd. A very bright moon.
In all a good night and I got a few nice photos which is always a bonus. I can’t say this would be an every-day occurrence, but it was certainly interesting to see what worked. Certainly the light just after sunset is a beautiful light, so maybe more photos to come from that time of day, especially as it fits more into my style of photography more than ‘pure’ night-time photography.