Quarter Life Crisis

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Long Exposures

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I love long exposure times when taking photos. When I was little and we went to see the sunset from Table Mountain, I took my first long exposure photos of the city’s lights. To do that I had to put my little viewfinder camera on a solid rock, make sure I was looking at the right area, then switch the camera to the exciting ‘bulb’ exposure setting and use the bendy remote exposure wire to trigger and lock the exposure for half a minute or so. I was twelve and all this was rather exciting.

And while the technology for this is less exciting these days – both because it’s all electronic and because it seems much less like magic – the images taken in the almost dark remain fascinating and are worth the hassle of setup. And it’s the extra setup which makes them a bit inconvenient, as you absolutely need a tripod or another surface to put the camera on.

When coming home yesterday night, I thought it looked quite cool out on the street, so I quickly did the setup and hoped that some car would drive through the image during the six second exposure time. Eventually that happened. And it looks quite magic as the car itself isn’t seen on the photo. To amplify this effect, I set the camera to ISO 50, making the required exposure time even longer and hopefully reducing noise (I’m not 100% on that one as people say that long exposure times bring noise with them in digital cameras as well).

The Street at night with cars going by

Odd note… the image above was converted from RAW format by GraphicConverter using the default settings while the version I put on Flickr was converted by OS X. They look very different. The darker OS X version is better at capturing the mood, while the GraphicConverter version looks clearer and gives more detail. But I guess I could get either version from each tool after fiddling with the settings for long enough.

April 29, 2006, 16:02

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