As much as I love photographing around town here in Thunder Bay, it’s sometimes hard to find the motivation to do so. I imagine a lot of photographers around the world have creative ruts. It doesn’t help when it’s -25 out and the days are short. So, it’s important to look for different ways to look at things and different ways of shooting. Long exposure photography is a great way to do that. It often takes the usual ordinary scene and transforms it into something completely unique.
With my Ricoh GR II in hand, my wife picked me up from work and we made our way to the mall. I got her to drive so I could take photos on the drive there. Why the Ricoh? Honestly, any camera can accomplish this and I recently did a set with my Fuji X100F. I chose the Ricoh this time around because it’s extremely portable, inconspicuous and just a blast to use. It also has a built in ND filter which really helps with long exposure.
It allows me to get my shutter down to around 1 - 6 seconds depending on the ambient light. Because we were in the mall, it wasn’t really needed all the time though.
With this kind of photography there really is no right or wrong way to do it, and that’s what makes it fun. However I will explain my process and settings.
I was typically at f16, ISO 100 and a shutter speed of 1-4 seconds. I usually adjusted the shutter speed to what I wanted and then set everything else accordingly. I was in full manual, and just focused on the part of the scene I was shooting. You don’t really have to worry about perfect focus or focus at all depending on what you are going for.
Plus when you are at f16, everything is going to be in focus anyways. Regardless, once you start blurring the scene, it’s not imperative. Once I start shooting it’s slot of trail and error. I take photo, see how it exposes and reshoot. As I’m taking the photos I move the camera a bit, either in and out or side to side.
This type of shooting isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it extremely fun. It’s more artistic if anything. When you are able to have people in the frame, it adds a sense of mystery I find. The great thing about photographing in the mall is that there are a ton of colours. When long exposed it creates a nice palette.
If you haven’t tried this yet, I encourage you to do so. Especially if you are tired of photographing the same areas in town day after day. You will start seeing things differently.