Every Time I take the X-E2 out I am amazed…
We have been having amazingly turbulent weather here in Pawleys Island for the last week or so. The sky has been moody and dark. Mornings filled with dense fog and the ocean surf rough… Perfect for long exposures and wild sunsets!
What better excuse then to take the Fuji X-E2 out and capture these wild and moody scenes? With my full kit of the Lee Seven 5 filters and B+W ND filters in hand I grabbed the X-E2 and the XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 Zoom Lens (which has kind of turned into my main carry around lens) and headed out to the beach.
The X-E2 (in fact, the entire line of Fuji X cameras) is exceptionally adept at long exposure photography. It generates low noise exposures and has NEVER let me down. I usually shoot in the 2 to 4 minute range but once in a while will go up to 10 to 15 minutes depending upon the subject.
In todays post I am shooting between 30 seconds and 4 minutes and one of the sunset images was just a short exposure (1/13).
The setup for all of the long exposure water images was either a 6 or 10 stop B+W ND filter and the sunset had an added 3 stop soft graduated Lee filter (Seven 5 system). The sky was just too bright with the wild colors to give anything but a black foreground otherwise! I also used the Fuji RR-90 remote shutter release (but you can also use a mechanical release or a Canon RS60 E3 release).
One of the big benefits of the Fuji X system is the fact that when in the BULB mode Fuji gives you a count up timer on the LCD screen so that you can easily time your exposure. This doesn’t sound like much but when you are out in the cold and dark shooting it is a BIG DEAL! Try doing this with a Nikon 300 and you will understand!
Now, lets talk a little about your exposure metering.
- You can (and I sometimes do) use the cameras metering system, but I do find that when metering through the 10 stop ND that it will sometimes confuse the meter.
- You can also meter without the ND attached then attach it and adjust the exposure for whatever value the ND is but there is NO guarantee that the filter is actually what it is advertised to be!
- What I like to do is to use the Seikonic 758DR spot meter which can factor in the ND filter automatically for you and give you an accurate exposure. You can also meter through the filter with the 758 to see what the real value of the filter is!.
- You can also just get close with your first exposure then evaluate your histogram and adjust the exposure as desired.
Which ever way you choose you will be surprised how quickly you can get “on target” by taking just 1 exposure then adjusting! But remember. when we are spot metering either in camera or in an external meter whatever spot you are metering on will give an exposure for Zone 5 or 18% grey. It is up to you to adjust the exposure up or down to place it into the proper Zone! What I like to meter on is the sky just above the horizon then adjust it up about 1 stop (move from Zone 5 to Zone 6).
I ALWAYS have the Long Exposure Noise Reduction turned on in my cameras. This means that you will double your exposure time. After you take your image, the camera will close the shutter and take a 2nd one with the same shutter speed. This is called Dark Frame Noise Reduction and the camera will look for bright pixels in the 2nd shot and subtract them from the first. This is very worthwhile and will allow you to create much better output images but cut down the amount of time you have to stand there and shoot!
As I said earlier, the mornings have been very foggy so lets start off with several examples of this type of photography. Of course, you must remember to increase the exposure so that the fog is not a DARK GREY, these have been adjusted from Zone 5 to Zone 6.5 or 1 1/2 stops!
Ok, lets move on to the evening. The intent here was simple long exposures to smooth out the surf and remove the surfers (yes I hate surfers as they are always in your shot and don’t care!). For these type of images you really need to start at 30 seconds and move up. If the sky is within 3 stops of the foreground then you do not need to add a graduated ND on the sky.
There is something very soothing about well done long exposures of the ocean. They really are not difficult to do and the results are worth the investment in time and discomfort (did I mention that it is winter here and I was standing on the beach in the wind?).
As you can see, the Fuji X-E2 excels in all areas of photography. It has proven itself to be a serious tool to photographers who understand its capabilities and master it functionality!