Long Exposure – 10 Tips to Improve Your Craft by Marc Koegel

Marc Koegel is a Vancouver based fine art photographer, has his own photography school and gallery. His most favourite genre that he works in is long exposure photography. He has exhibited internationally and has worked closely with Joe McNally, Greg Gorman, Jay Maisel, Arthur Meyerson, Mary Ellen Mark, and Ralph Gibson and others, often bringing them to Vancouver to present splendid workshops to the local photographic community.

Marc is a regular judge at the North Shore Photographic Society to which I belong and last Monday evening we had a program night where Marc came along and spent two hours giving us tips on long exposure photography.

He first explained the correct sequence for preparing for a long exposure photo:

  • Find best place for composition
  • Put camera on tripod
  • Taking a regular record shot with correct exposure
  • Evaluating the histogram to check for correct highlight and shadow exposure
  • Switch to manual focus. Live view can also be used once in manual focus
  • Take care to tape the viewfinder shut or cover the camera with a touqe (better known as a beanie in Britain) to ensure that there is no light seepage that will cause lens flare
  • Attach ND filters on lens
  • Switch camera to bulb mode
  • Calculate exposure using the shutter speed of the reference shot and total strength of the ND filters. He provided us with a handy reference table with this information
  • Take the shot

He also discussed the various types of filters and made some recommendations on how to save money with these purchases. Marc emphasised that one has to understand how and why the exposure times influence the subject matter as the goal should be to ‘deliteralize the photo’. This statement resonated with me after having just completed assignment 2 where I felt every image was trial and error, and I suppose it has to be so.

He also shared some of his images showing the subtle differences between a 20 second and 4 minute exposure – how certain elements remain the same in both exposure, but how others change dramatically. He couldn’t stress enough that long exposure photography is organic and unpredictable.

Finally he shared some photographers that inspire him:

Next month Marc will be following this tutorial up with a field trip where we can test the filters and try out long exposure photography. I’m hoping to attend this.

Marc offers an online long exposure course and has some interesting tutorials on his Bulb Exposure website.

Reference List

Koegel, Marc. Bulb Exposures – The Blog about Fine-Art Long Exposure Photography [online]. Available from: http://bulbexposures.com/ . [Accessed 30 September, 2015]

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