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Gate to heaven?

You may not think much of a cliffside cave, but when you give the camera a chance to capture it on long exposure, using a blackout filter, you can get this as a...
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You may not think much of a cliffside cave, but when you give the camera a chance to capture it on long exposure, using a blackout filter, you can get this as a result. It was the colour of the moving waves that mesmerise me more than the actual composition. It feels like... a gate to heaven!
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Behind The Lens

This photograph was taken at the cliff caves of Spanish Point in Bermuda.
The image was capture around mid-day end of November.
I used a 10x ND filter for this shot to be able to get to a long exposure time in sunny Bermuda. My ISO was at 100, the shutter speed was 30 seconds at F13, camera on a tripod. The perpetual movement of the waves seen through a hole in the cliffside makes this image special. I took many pictures that day, one after the other and not one of them was the same.
Canon 5D MK II, 24-105 F/4 zoomlens. Tripod. Lee Big Stopper ND filter.
A fellow photographer actually opened my eyes to the possibilities here. I saw her long-exposure result and could not believe my eyes. I just had to go back to that location and try to do it myself. I was mesmerised and from that moment on I have been hunting for the hidden treasures that lie along the road of long shutter speeds at daytime (Thanks Christine!!).
I did not do much; just sharpening some parts of the cliff wall and some minor cropping.
In my camera bag
It all depends on where I am going. When I am just venturing out for fun, in nature or at an event, I typically only travel with my Canon 5D MKII and my favorite wide-angle 16-35mm F/2.8. The sharpness and clarity of the images with this lens make up for its lack of range. I hate changing to another lens in the middle of something, so the lens also helps me make the most of my composition. When I expect to need more close-up options, I do tend to take my 70-200mm with me. But I try not to lug around too much "stuff". In the old days, when photographers still worked on film, they did not have half of the gadgets we have these days and they still came back with unique images. So I don't want to get myself too distracted with all of that. Having said that, I do like to play around with off camera flash so when I have the luxury of a helping hand (talking about my husband now!) I will take my Canon light monster (580 EX II) with me as well. And a tripod...
I would say: make your photo outings into an adventure, a discovery. Even though the typical misty waterfall shots using long exposure can charm the pants off of me, I also like to use these types of techniques for other subjects that are a little bit less obvious and polished. If you can afford a good blackout filter like the Big Stopper, or use multiple sets of graduated Neutral Density filters, you can give yourself the gift of surprise, right there in your camera. Especially when you use them during the day with very low ISO values on a tripod, making your gear as insensitive to light as possible. This enables you to use super long exposure times of 60 seconds or more. Its effects can be miraculous. Clouds will get more definition and movement, water will stun you even on a day without sun. Think outside of the box and use the digital age by making tons of shots. You can always delete them if they do not come out ( I usually delete one to two-thirds of my shots!). But you will at least have learned more about the possibilities of this technique without investing thousands of dollars in film development. Sometimes, like me with this cliff-cave image, you need to be shaken and awoken by the results of another photographer - to learn to see a different angle, to discover the hidden X-factor of a scene. But when it works out, you will love the results and you will probably be like me: a hunter of unlikely images!

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