Photographers all have their “go to” spots. I have locations where I like to photograph families and couples…
I have spots where I like to shoot just because of the history behind the location and I know I can always get a money $hot…
And when it comes to shooting sunsets close to home, I go to Ell Pond in Melrose, MA. There are a few reasons why I like going to this spot…
1: It’s close to home and I can quickly go on a whim. If I feel there might be an epic sunset, I’ll give it a shot. Given the fact it’s only less than 20 minutes away I won’t feel as bad – as opposed to driving somewhere far only to have a lackluster sunset.
2: There’s always parking! Heading out to the city is always a challenge finding parking. Sometimes after 7pm parking is free; that is – if you can find it. My secret weapon is an app named Spot Hero. It’ll save you a few bucks, you can reserve your spot and know what you’re paying ahead of time as parking in Boston and NYC can easily cost you $80 for a few hours!
3: And the main reason I love Ell Pond is WATER! 🌊 There’s something about shooting water that makes images dramatic. And now that I think about it – rents and property values are always higher when it’s located near water.
So yesterday I had a bit of cabin fever as I’ve been pretty much home for the past week as Chooky sprained a muscle and I’ve been keeping a close eye on her. As a side-note it was her 10th birthday a few days ago. Happy birthday Chooky baby! 🎉
I’ve had a few photo gigs lately, but it’s been a while since I’ve been out shooting just for me. And today I had a hunch there was going to be an epic sunset. There’s no way to predict when there’s going to be an awe inspiring sunset. But as a rule of thumb chances are good when there’s a storm coming in, or out. And today (9/18/2018) there was a major storm that effected my area in Massachusetts.
Everyone on the coastal areas received a tornado warning in the afternoon via the emergency response system. My TV and cellphone was blaring a warning message that there were strong winds and the potential for a tornado.
Luckily it didn’t happen and the weather cleared up around 5pm. So I used my Walter Mercado intuition and headed to my “go to” spot Ell Pond.
When it comes to shooting water, to get dramatic photos it’s best to shoot long exposures. Here’s a “normal” exposure taken at 1/80 of a second, f8, ISO 50:
There’s nothing wrong with the image but I like to take things to another level. So I added a 10 stop neutral density filter to be able to shoot long exposures in the day. If you don’t know what ND filters are, they’re essentially sunglasses for your camera.
This is what the setup looks like from the front:
As for the process – the first step is to have your camera prefocused, then put your camera on bulb mode and use a remote timer to start and stop the exposure when you’re ready.
Here’s what the “normal” 1/160 of a second exposure looked like:
And after waiting 81.5 seconds here’s the result!
Shooting these long exposures is time consuming as it takes a while to setup. And if you somehow mess up, there’s a longer waiting period as each exposure takes a lot longer to achieve. So back to Ell Pond…
I wanted to get the long exposure effect so I played around with various exposure times and compositions and this is what I came home with:
I noticed these cloud streaks radiating from the sun so I recomposed the frame to add more of the left side of the view. But then a plane killed the shot with the contrail left behind. UGH! This was a “normal” shot I took at 1/80th of a second.
Then I decided to take a longer exposure (42 seconds) to see what would happen:
I’m not really crazy about it, but photography is all about experimenting. So I waited a few minutes for the contrail to dissipate and snapped this shot:
But this is where things started to get crazy. The sky got super saturated and this is the reason I headed out today!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and stay tuned for more photography adventures!
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