Ethereal long exposure seascapes have become my favourite kind of photography over the years since I first picked up a camera. I remember seeing long exposure photos for the first time and thinking "these are the kind of photos I would like to be creating". Being able to take them now is absolutely amazing and dark neutral density filters always come with me wherever we end up going. I also remember my early struggles with getting the right exposure that thwarted my early efforts. They were most often under or over exposure, not to mention how many times I actually forgot to put the filter on after working out the right exposure (embarrassing I know!). After many failed photos, these day I feel that I am a lot more confident with shooting long exposures to create mystical, ethereal landscapes images.
Today's photo hopefully features just the kind of atmosphere that I mention. This is arguably my favourite photo of this year so far. When exploring Torndirrup National Park on the south coast of Western Australia, I came across this scene which instantly sent out a "long exposure alert" in my mind. The glow of the fading light illuminated the canal between the rocks, the clouds moved quite fast in the sky and the water shimmered gently right in front of me. There was no dramatic wave action but there was just enough of water moving between the rocks to create a misty effect that I envisioned.
It felt like my perception of time was altered when I was there taking the photo and the final result emphasises that feeling even more so. Shooting long exposure is always a challenge because one never fully knows what the effect will be once the exposure has finished. When I was standing there, I was taking it all in real time but my mind was seeing it all through an imaginary dark filter to try and build an idea of what the photo will look like. It felt almost like existing in two different time dimensions at the same moment - the "fast" standard time of now and the slow extended time of the long exposure.
Another thought that always comes into my mind in moments like this, is the comprehension of the contrast between the still elements and the moving elements in the scene. The rocks, cliffs, stones stand still and motionless, as they have done so (in our perception) for thousands of years in the same location. In the meantime, how many waves have wandered in, how many clouds passed by overhead and how the light has changed over the five minutes that went by during the making of this image in camera. Then comes a realisation of how short our existence is on this planet (at the basic level that is our lifespan as we know it) compared to the eternity that this world has endured since it first came to be.
Well this turned out to be more of an exploration of the spiritual/philosophical side of photography and especially landscape photography. I hope you do not mind the diversion but this is an integral part of how I see the world around me and why photographing landscapes is such an important aspect of my life.
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