Long exposure at the blue hour.
I’ve always loved long exposure photographs. The first time I really remember being aware of the concept was when I saw a documentary about a photographer who used pinhole cameras to take hours-long exposures of popular city locations to reveal scenes devoid of people. I thought it was amazing. Since then I’ve seen other similar examples (plus I’ve seen how to mimic this in post-processing), but the most common subject for long-exposure photography is water; the ocean, a lake, a river, or waterfall. I don’t habitually carry a tripod around with me, which means I’m usually limited in my exposures to what I can take hand-held, and I’ve got quite good at holding a camera steady for up to 1/4 second.
But to get those glassy ocean shots needs much longer exposures and, therefore, a tripod (plus a neutral density filter – which I lack). My GorillaPod is proving to be too wobbly for the kinds of photos I’m after, so I made use of a number of logs on the beach to experiment with exposures of up to about 8 seconds. It took a few shots (owing to the fact that none of the logs were level), but I finally got one I liked. And somehow I felt it looked better when I kept the blue tint rather than using a more realistic colour balance. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough.
Chasing sand dollars on a morning run along the beach – nice to find a few live ones. I found the tiniest of sand dollar shells, barely the size of my little finger nail, but it crumbled the moment I picked it up. Running barefoot on a sandy beach feels good too! 🙂 🏃👣
Quite by chance, our return to Parksville for a long weekend on the beach coincided with a full moon, revealing literally miles of beach to explore at low tide. While the others were at the pool, I decided to head out for a run on the exposed – and ripply – sand (which, by the way, is nowhere near as soft on your bare feet as might be expected). The tide was still receding, and I chased it out almost to the water’s edge, discovering tidal pools with stranded, living sand dollars. I snapped a few photos (such as the one above) and continued on my way.
Returning later with Maria, we discovered dozens and dozens more living sand dollars. Many were stranded upside-down on the sand, which we carefully righted them so they could burrow away to safety. It was such a fun experience finding so many, and I even had the chance to take a video clip of one pushing its way under the sand. Very cool! I don’t know how we can beat that for a sand dollar experience! 🙂
Dropping in for lunch
We were minding our own business, padding about the sand at low tide when I noticed an eagle swoop down and appear to grab a fish. I watched as it banked around, and to my surprise it landed on a small sandbank about 50 m away, rather than taking it back up into a tree. I crept closer and began taking as many photographs as I could. Just when I thought I’d be happy with these photos, its mate appeared from the top of a nearby Douglas fir and flew down to share in the spoils. The two chattered away for a bit, but there didn’t seem to be any food sharing going on – the bird that caught the fish continued to rip it apart on its own which made for a few grisly photos (even if it was just a fish). After about 10 minutes they both flew off, presumably back to the nest to feed their growing chicks. What a treat – I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing eagles.
Reflection in a rising tide
Our second day of wandering about on the beach at low tide, and we hung out until the tide turned and began to make its way back in. It was fun to watch the water creep in around us, leaving small islands here and there. With the water being so calm it was perfect for reflections – and we even had a beautiful fluffed-up cumulus cloud lit up brightly in the evening sunshine as a subject. It was difficult to see exactly what I was getting as the contrast was so high, but I did my best to frame the pool of water from the rising tide with the beach as well as capture the cloud reflection (and the two people wading through the shallow water). Turned out quite nicely, even if I do say so myself 🙂