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Sunset at Black Rock, Victoria

Rickett's Point

 Ever since moving to Melbourne two years ago (how time flies!) I’ve barely driven my car. It’s not because I’m a bad driver (well some might argue that…) but I haven’t had the need with access to trains, trams and busses right near my door step, riding to work every day on my bike and other photographers being happy to drive. But after copping flack from my Hobart and Melbourne friends I decided it was time to get my little civic out on the road after a couple of years of sitting idle. Much to my surprise it started first go and I took it for a test drive into the city. Okay, driving into the Melbourne city might have been slightly ambitious but it was a good reality check. Feeling inspired I decided to drive to Black Rock last night on my second outing… 

Pre sunset with no filters attached
Pre-sunset with no filters attached (Click for large)

Black Rock is only 18km south east of the Melbourne CBD and not too far from where I live. I’d seen photos of the marine navigation marker in other people’s photographs so with an idea in my head I waited for the ideal conditions of wind, forecast rain and some swell to get down there and add my own take.

Working full time I find the best conditions seem to be when I’m stuck at work. But luckily yesterday the weather forecast was looking just right with late rain forecasted. The plan was to capture some nice clouds and hopefully some colour from the sunset with some reflections. The tide was just high enough that there was some water around to create the reflections and there just enough water movement for the water to be nicely blurred from a long exposure.

Rickett's Point
5 and a half minute exposure captured with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40, B+W 110 and Cokin Z-Pro neutral density filters


Quick photo as I composed and focused the shot before attaching filters (Click for large)
Quick photo as I composed and focused the shot before attaching filters (Click for large)

Towards the end of the exposure for the above image the sun began to unexpectedly peek out between the clouds. Luckily the exposure for the shot was nearing its end so I waited for it to end and quickly moved the tripod in place so the sun was directly behind the marker.

I must admit that photographing directly into the sun has never been my strong point. I always manage to screw it up by over or under exposing the image and it never comes out as impressive as of photographers like Everlook Photography. Not prepared to stuff it up this time I decided to take a few exposures as a back up. The idea was to take one short exposure without filters (so a second or so), a really long exposure (6 minutes) with filters and a mid range exposure of around 3 minutes.  In doing so this would mean I could cheat later and combine different parts of the images to get the result. It’s not how I would normally capture the image but this time I was taking no losses!

It was lucky I captured a few exposures as my single exposure of 6 minutes didn’t capture the sun how I’d expected (partially due to the sun going behind the clouds) so I opted to blend parts of the three images into one exposure in Photoshop. As I said, it’s not how I’d normally capture and process a finished image but I really wanted to include the blazing sun rays as the sun went below the horizon. It came out okay in the end and didn’t take too long to process.

Black Rock
6 minute long exposure shot with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40, B+W 110 and Cokin Z-Pro neutral density filters

As conditions started to get dark and the sunset was well and truly over I decided to take one more image with the idea of giving it a cold processing feel in Lightroom. For this image I used the split toning feature in Lightroom and added a very subtle blue to the shadow of the image and dropped the saturation. Below was the result.

Just under a two minute exposure captured with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40 and Cokin Z-Pro neutral density filters
Just under a two minute exposure captured with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40 and Cokin Z-Pro neutral density filters


Another successful trip in the car.  Why I stopped driving I’ll never know. Where to next? Who knows but it’s nice to be shooting the sea again.

Take care,

– Alex



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Park Beach – Seascape Long Exposure (Includes Before/After)

Park Beach, Tasmania

A photograph from my recent trip home to Tasmania for Christmas. This long exposure photograph was captured at Park Beach, Tasmania just after sunset. This is one of my favourite coastlines to photograph in the Hobart area even if it is quite limited on sunset. Unfortunately you’re limited to shooting in this direction if you wish to capture any colour in the sky, ignoring all the interesting rock formation that faces the opposite direction.

This is a 10 minute long exposure that was captured with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40, B+W 110 and tripod.

Before and After

And for something different, this is the before and after images from Lightroom. The image is around a stop over exposed which was both good and bad. The reason for it being good is that it brought out a lot of detail in the dark area of the rocks which can easily be lost in a regular exposure due to the area having strong shadows. But on the other hand, I also lost a lot of sky straight out of camera. Fortunately the Canon 5D Mark II retains a lot of detail and I was able to save the sky.

The edit was actually quick and probably only took around 2 minutes. In Lightroom I dropped the exposure considerably which brought back the sky but darkened the rocks. Rather than keep the rocks under exposed, I used the adjustment brush with a +1.00 exposure to bring the rocks back out.  After that I adjusted the temperature of the image (cooling it) and selectively adjusting the saturation points of parts of the image until happy. Finally sharpening the image in Photoshop with the unsharpen mask.

Update 10/06/2012 – I’ve since created a tutorial video on how I went about editing this photograph. Granted the final image doesn’t come out exactly the same as the image used in this post but it should give you a good idea of how the I went from the before shot above to the final image. The key things to note is the graduated filter and adjustment brush make all the difference and allow you to make the majority of your edits without needing to open up Photoshop. Be careful though. It’s easy to over do the editing when using these tools and I think the final image is starting to reach that.

Direct link to this Adobe Lightroom Tutorial Clip

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Park Beach – Sunset Long Exposure

One from earlier this evening at Park Beach Tasmania on sunset.

Fingers crossed the colours are okay with this. I’m in Hobart for a few weeks and only have a laptop to edit on. How I miss my 27″ screen right now… Editing in Photoshop on a 13″ is interesting 😉

This is a 10 minute long exposure captured with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40 and B+W 110. Rather than use graduated neutral density filters I opted to use the ‘magic cloth technique’. I keep meaning to make a post on this soon but it’s a neat little technique that is cost effective and useful when you wish to only limit the exposure of part of the image for a small period (rather than the whole 10 minute long exposure like with actual graduated filters).  More on this soon though 🙂

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Daytime Long Exposure

Normally I loathe heavy vignette but this seems to work okay and not make me want to stab myself in the eyes.

This is a 15 second long exposure captured on ‘golden hour’ just a bit before sunset. The day time long exposure was made possible by using a B+W 110 10 stop neutral density filter which allows the camera to be stopped down significantly.  Minimal processing including a slight desaturation of the sky, curves and obviously the vignette.


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Jetty Ruins – Long Exposure

An old photograph from 2009 captured with a 59 second exposure at Midway Point, Tasmania. Normally I would have opted for a longer exposure but  the exposure was cut short before the rain ruined the reflections around the old jetty. You can see the reflections starting to ripple towards the background.

As usual this is shot with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40 and B+W 110 (10 stop) neutral density filter. The B+W 110 is a must for shooting daylight long exposures and allowed me to easily obtain an (almost) 1 minute long exposure even if it was early afternoon (2:30PM). Anyone serious about taking daytime long exposure photographs need this neutral density filter in their kit.