A Shot in the Dark

This past week I had the opportunity to go on the Columbus Night’s Photo Walk led by Aaron Sheldon. For having rained all day, it was a surprisingly great turn out with about 10-15 people or so. I was excited and nervous to be shooting long exposures with a 10-stop ND Lee Big Stopper filter and a Nikon D610 with 17-35mm lens. I knew my exposure times would be guesses and all I could do was hope for the best.

The evening started off with rooftop shooting on the Nationwide parking garage. I started off the evening without the neutral density filter due to some issues I was having using the tripod and the small window I had to shoot before moving on to the next location. Ideally, I would have liked to have 5-10 minute exposures. With a 15-minute time frame at each location, this was difficult to achieve with guessing proper settings and exposures.

As the night went on, I figured I’d try the Lee Big Stopper and catch up to the group later. I ended up with a few good light-streaking shots that I was really excited about.

My first shot I was happy with was across the street from the Statehouse and the Columbus Dispatch sign. After a few exposure tries, I was able to get this one at f/4.5, 41 seconds, at ISO 200. This was definitely one of my favorite shots of the evening.


After that, we walked over to the Statehouse side, which is where I got this shot of a church and light streaking from cars going by. Although it was shot at 110 seconds, it was still underexposed. Ideally, I would have had a higher ISO and about 60 seconds longer of an exposure.


The last image I took of the evening was on a walkway, towards the end of the photo walk. The Clippers baseball game had just let out and we were on a walkway above the street shooting out. I was pleasantly surprised at this attempt as it was my first exposure attempt in this location. I was able to get several cars, including one pulling out of a parking spot, passing through underneath us. This shot was taken at f/2.8, 67 seconds, and ISO 400.


Being only the second time using a neutral density filter I found myself getting frustrated with long exposures not turning out properly. This one scene I set up looking over the city was taken at 9 minutes and it was still underexposed. Had I not been with a group and constantly moving locations, I would have gotten more time to get the right exposure. When shooting with neutral density filters, make sure you give yourself enough time to get the image, and take risks!

I was able to get some images while zooming in and out while the camera was exposing the image to get a neat zoom effect. However, I did not get a chance to try this with the filter.

Determined to get a better shot, I took the D610 out with the Lee filter the next evening to see if I could get a better shot. Living near Uptown Westerville, I thought it was a perfect idea to stop and shoot for a few minutes. Right away, I was able to get a shot within 10 minutes. After using the filter for a few days, I got used to the long exposures and using the tripod more.  This image was taken at f/3.5 at 318 seconds and ISO 640.


I hope to take the filter out again and experiment with long exposures more. Seeing as I mainly shot the light streaking cars, I’d like to experiment using a model or using a lake on a cloudy or rainy day.


One thought on “A Shot in the Dark

  1. Need to find traffic that is going away from the camera instead of coming towards the camera. Tail lights look better than head lights.

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