June 09th 2012 by Andrew S Gibson
My girlfriend and I recently moved to Wellington, at the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, as she just got a new job here. We found a place to live in a suburb called Island Bay, which just happens to have a cool concrete storm water outlet that sticks out into the bay and is turning out to be useful for practising some long exposure photography.
To take the above photo I set my EF 17-40mm lens to 17mm. I don’t usually go that wide (you would need a focal length of 11mm on an APS-C camera to get the same field of view) but here it’s worked perfectly to exaggerate the sense of distance. I used a 9 stop neutral density filter to obtain a shutter speed of 30 seconds, and the ten-second self-timer on my camera so that I could walk to the end of jetty and include myself in the photo. I sat still throughout the exposure, contemplating the tranquil scene in front of me.
Here is a black and white version of the same image. I converted it to black and white in Photoshop CS after processing the original image in Lightroom. Lightroom has some excellent black and white conversion tools but I always get a better result in Photoshop. The colours are eye-catching in the above image but I also like the mood of the black and white conversion.
Here’s another composition. I deliberately placed myself between the cliffs and the island so that I wouldn’t overlap either one. This helps keep the composition simple and gives the various elements in the image space to ‘breathe’:
Here’s how it looks in black and white:
It’s interesting to see how the colour and black and white versions of both images are moody, but in different ways. The colour photos capture the mood created by the sunset and the fading light. The black and white images are more about the contrast created by the dried salt on the concrete jetty and the silhouettes of the island and the cliffs on the horizon.
I like both versions, but the black and white is my favourite.