Dusk Long Exposures

Anna and I had headed out on the Saturday afternoon to see what we could get of the Brisbane CBD just on sunset. South Bank was crawling with wedding parties and photographers. At my eventual location for this weeks shot we were asked if we had nearly finished shooting as another photographer wanted to shoot the bride and groom from the same spot. I guess I stumbled upon a popular location.

Sunset in Brisbane CBD

Canon 40D @10mm, f13, ISO200, 10sec with Tiffen 0.9 ND filter.

This week I want to share with you the advantages of extending your exposure time when shooting at dusk. The sunset was nothing special but there was a hint or purple and orange in the sky. With an exposure length of 1 second the colours were not showing up as much as I had hoped. By adding my Tiffen 0.9 ND filter which gives me 3 stops less light and increasing my aperture to f 13 I was able let the colours burn in more over the period of 10 seconds. This also resulted in a more silky effect to the water, which I really like.

Sometimes you can’t extend your exposure due to the wind and moving subjects like trees. Using a wide angle lens and being a good distance from the moving subject you can get away with dragging the shutter (allowing a slower shutter speed).


Its a technique that works great for coastlines also. The below image was taken without any colour filters or ND filters. To the human eye it was hard to make out the shapes of the rocks, the longer exposure allowed for more light to be captured and again gave an interesting effect to the water with the waves given an almost mist like appearance.

Canon 40D @17mm, f22, ISO200, 30sec

So next time you are out shooting the sunset why not stick around for another 15-20 minutes and try some longer exposures. Remember to keep your ISO to its lowest setting and make sure your using a tripod.