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Using a long exposure to build up color

There is something special about a long exposure – especially when water is involved. A long exposure of moving water, leaving the camera’s shutter open more than two seconds, turns reality into a soft, surreal scene. After the sun set this evening and the other people left the Cape May, NJ, beach as darkness set it, I was able to shoot some of my favorite scenes, just the ocean, beach and sky. Over the years I have learned to stick around after sunset for the best color. Right before the sun goes down there can be a bright blast of color and again the color get rich right after sunset. For about 15-20 minutes the color can get rather blah but then varying, softer colors can come in and create a very different feel. I’m amazed how often I see photographers pack up their gear right after sunset, not knowing that many times the best is yet to come. Sometimes I tell them to hang out and other times I hoard all the beauty for myself. Tonight I had it all to myself. I made a bunch of exposures, trying many different settings and angles. This one was with a 16mm lens set at f/5.6 with the shutter open for 30 seconds so the water would be nice and smooth. The long exposure also builds up the soft color.

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