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Fun With Long Exposures in Laguna Beach

Long Exposures in Laguna Beach, CA

Long Exposure at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA
1 minute at f/32

I've been hooked on black and white photography lately. Maybe it's a sign I'm getting older, but I think I'm just a little burned out on the whole "make an epic landscape bursting with more color than a box of Crayola crayons" approach to landscape photography. I dig photos that depart from reality a little bit - something that doesn't look like a facsimile of real life. For these same reasons, I've been experimenting with doing ultra-long exposures down at the local beaches.

When you get into the territory of super long exposures like 30 seconds and longer, the ocean takes on a surreal foggy look from all the motion of the waves. The result is a smoothed out water surface and a beautiful mist along the shore. With some good dark rocks in the foreground to break it up, the surrealism that results is addictive.

For this series of photos, I set up my tripod at a local stopping ground - Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA. I've photographed this beach more times than I can count. It's classic Orange County, CA with picturesque palm trees lining the sun-soaked cliffs and some excellent rock formations for this style of landscape photography.

The photos you see here were made on Ilford Delta 100 black and white film with a Mamiya RZ67 camera, but these effects are even easier to achieve with a digital SLR. The shutter speed in each photo here was 1 minute. In order to get that long of an exposure, I had to close my aperture down real small - f/32 - and use 6 stops of neutral density filter to cut back the light. Also, the fact that it was a little bit overcast helped, too. If you were doing this with a digital camera, you'd need to do the same things I did - small aperture, ND filter, and be sure to use a low ISO of 50 or 100. And since the shutter speed will be beyond 30 seconds, you'll need to switch your camera into "bulb" mode. Bulb mode is where the shutter will stay open for as long as you hold down the shutter release. Best use a locking cable release so that you don't have to sit there with your finger on the shutter release. Use a stopwatch to time the shutter speed or just count "1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi..." I also used a split ND filter here to darken up the sky a bit.

I'm sure I'll be taking many more long exposure pictures like this in the near future. I'm hooked.

Long Exposures in Laguna Beach, CA

Long Exposures in Laguna Beach, CA

Orange County Photography Classes: 2014 Schedule

2014 Summer/Fall Schedule
Orange County Photography Classes

Updated June 19, 2014


How to Shoot in Manual Mode

July 1 - Tuesday 6:30-9:00pm in Irvine, CA
Learn the correct way to shoot in manual mode in this very affordable single-evening seminar. Nick will demystify the process with his easy-to-understand and fun-to-use technique for manual metering. - 1 day (2.5 hrs) - $39
Get More Info About This Class


Popular Beginners Photography Class:
Understanding Exposure for Beginners

July 12 & April 19 - 2 Saturdays 10:00am-12:30pm in Tustin, CA
Perfect for beginning photographers, this class is designed to make exposure easily understandable to even the greenest students. Learn what shooting modes to use, how to get correct exposures, and what the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are. You'll leave this class knowing what the f-stop is, how to get blurry backgrounds, how to avoid totally blurry photos in low light, and much, much more! - 2 days (5 hrs total) - $75
Get More Info About This Class


Includes a Field Shoot!

Landscape Photography

July 17 through August 7 - 4 Thursdays from 6:30-9:00pm in Irvine, CA
This class is 1 evening per week for 4 weeks. It covers everything from how to shoot in manual, to using filters, to composition, to final output and much, much more. And this class is my one and only class to include a field shoot! - 4 days (10 hrs total) - $99
Get More Info About This Class


Filters for Outdoor Photography

August 2 - Satuday 10:00am-12:30pm in Tustin, CA
Don't be fooled by the marketing of software companies - filters are just as useful in digital photography as they've ever been! Find out what filters Photoshop can never replace and which filters are most important to keep in your bag. - 1 day (2.5 hrs) - $39
Get More Info About This Class


New Tuesday Evening Class:
Understanding Exposure for Beginners

August 19 & August 26 - 2 Tuesdays 6:30pm-9:00pm in Tustin, CA
Perfect for beginning photographers, this class is designed to make exposure easily understandable to even the greenest students. Learn what shooting modes to use, how to get correct exposures, and what the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are. You'll leave this class knowing what the f-stop is, how to get blurry backgrounds, how to avoid totally blurry photos in low light, and much, much more! - 2 days (5 hrs total) - $75
Get More Info About This Class


Composition for Dramatic Landscapes

September 9 - Tuesday 6:30-9:00pm in Irvine, CA
Composition is what will make or break your landscape photographs. Don't get so caught up in the technical stuff that you forget to give due attention to the artistic side of landscape photography. - 1 day (2.5 hrs) - $39
Get More Info About This Class


Macro DSLR Photography

October 18 through November 8 - 4 Saturdays 10:00am-12:30pm in Tustin, CA
This class is 1 saturday per week for 4 weeks. Learn how to improve your macro photography with your DSLR camera, what equipment you should invest in, what settings to use, how to frame a shot, how to find good light and more! Includes an in-class shoot. - 4 days (10 hrs total) - $99
Get More Info About This Class

 

Don't wait, sign up before these orange county photography classes fill up!
More information and enrollment details
can be found here.

Large Wall Art: 7-Foot Wide Panorama

Large Wall Art - Panoramic Photography by Nick CarverLarge Wall Art: Nick Carver and the 7-Foot Wide Beast
Click Any Image to Enlarge

I recently made a large wall art piece for a client to hang in his TrueCar executive office in Goleta, CA. I've made some large wall art before. My record is 10-foot wide, a panoramic view of Sedona, AZ that hangs proudly in my Tustin classroom. But on the 10-foot wide piece, I broke up it into 3 smaller pieces, forming a triptych, simply because it's nearly impossible (or prohibitively expensive) to create a single piece that large.

Large Wall Art - Panoramic Photography by Nick Carver

For this wall art at TrueCar, we were looking at doing a 6-foot wide print with a 4" double mat and a 2" frame. All in all, the piece would measure 7-foot edge-to-edge when it was complete. Since we were going with traditional matting, doing a triptych wouldn't look right. The gaps between prints would be distracting. So the goal was to do a single continuous piece framed under glass.

Before this, I'd never done a piece this large with glass. The triptych hanging in my Tustin classroom is float-mounted with plexiglass and no frame. Doing it under a single pane of glass presents a different set of challenges. Thankfully my framer, Salamon Art in Fountain Valley, provided much needed guidance on this process. I learned from the head honcho over there that matting prints this big is so uncommon that there are only 2 colors available for matting: white and warm-white. Good thing that's what we wanted anyway. The next challenge was glazing (meaning the glass). They don't make glass this big for picture framing. We could get a pane specially made, but that would cost a fortune. Thank God for acrylic. Acrylic glazing made the whole piece surprisingly lightweight compared to glass and it made the materials far more affordable.

I typically like high-gloss metallic prints, especially for landscapes like this, but I decided to go with a regular matte finish paper. It was a tough decision because I don't really like matte photo paper, but it was the right decision. High-gloss prints this big become distractingly riddled with ripples and reflections. Also, it's a good idea to do really dark photos in a dull finish. High-gloss picks up reflections even worse when the picture is dark. If you got yourself a really bright composition, though, gloss can look great. The printing was done, as always, by the experts at Pro Photo Connection in Irvine. It's the only place I trust with my prints. This photo, by the way, is a 6x17 panoramic made on Fuji Velvia 50 film in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

Sunset at Rancho Palos Verdes

The finished piece came out great, it was huge, it didn't break on transport (my biggest worry), and it looked gorgeous hanging on this exec's wall. As I've said before, getting the photo framed and hanging on someone else's wall is the ultimate reward of photography. Feels good.

On to the next one.