by Paul Gallagher Published 01/08/2012
Until recently the type of film I have been using has generally dictated my exposures which, for landscapes, was a pretty low ISO to get the optimum quality. This is generally the case for many landscape photographers who use colour film and most opt for Fuji Velvia with its low sensitivity of 50 ISO. The film choice for my monochrome work has always been Ilford Delta 100 with an indicated ISO of 100 on the box, but I found its true ISO after tests to be 64 and I have always set my light meter to this.
Clearly the other big consideration for the landscape photographer is the combination of aperture and shutter speed for depth of field. Even with the privilege of lens tilt on my Ebony large-format camera and my Nikkor 24mm PC-E lens attached to my D800e, I still need to stop down to get maximum sharpness from front to back of the image. So after using a low ISO film or ISO setting and stopping down then the shutter speed has had to look after itself and fall into line with the other, more important, factors.
Kilbrannan Sound (long exposure)
The resulting images of working in this way have shown that if water was included in the scene it was recorded with movement and, depending on the degree of movement and exposure time, dictated how soft it looked in the finished image.
Long exposures have been around for quite some time even since the invention of photography as light sensitive materials were not very sensitive at all and so a longer exposure was needed to create an image.
Recently long exposures have become something of a fashion on photography and I personally think some of this was influenced by the work of Michael Kenna, which is a good example of how a master uses the technique and is then copied and emulated by many. I have been known to use filters to force long exposures in the past, such as 1-, 2- and 3-stop neutral density filters but the recent introduction of 10-stop filters has made it possible for photographers to make exposures of several minutes even on a bright sunny day!
About a year ago I took receipt of my Lee Big Stopper 10-stop neutral density filter and to be honest I did not really use it much as it did not seem to be in keeping with my kind of landscape photography work.
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