EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS

NYThroughTheLens: Why I Shoot Long Exposures

Vivienne Gucwa


New York City at Night under the 59th Street bridge

VIVIENNE GUCWA
Under the 59th Street Bridge, New York City.


For a really long time, I avoided night photography. When I first started photography, understanding natural daylight was enough of a challenge. One can spend their entire life mastering the subtle nature of daylight and its effect on an infinite variety of scenes.

The turning point for me occurred on a frigid winter night in New York City, when I decided to experiment with my first long exposure. I was hooked.

Long exposure photography involves using long shutter speeds to capture static elements in a scene while also capturing the moving elements in a unique fashion. Usually, if there is movement in a scene, the movement will be captured as a blur. This is great for scenes with light, since moving light is captured as a light streak.

The mental transition going from shooting city scenes quickly in natural daylight to shooting long exposure city scenes at night is an interesting one. There is a zen quality to setting up and shooting long exposures. Waiting for a shot in the age of digital instant gratification is refreshing. It slows down the process. You become hyper-aware of the movement of clouds and light transitions. In the winter especially, it’s a commitment. The minute (or longer) of waiting seems to encompass an eternity.

A gorgeous bridge and urban landscape during the day becomes a bridge in Batman's Gotham city at night, all thanks to the magic of a 30 second long exposure.

Camera: Sony SLT-A99
Lens: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm f/2.8

Check out more of Vivienne's work at her blog.

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