Two Minutes: Long Exposures in Rough Weather


We had a major storm come through Bellingham, Wash., the past few day. On Wednesday, I went to Boulevard Park to practice my long exposures.

I’m still looking for the elusive “silky water” photo I’ve seen in others’ images.

Fluffy Waters 1

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - Images from a stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – Images from a stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

So with my Manfrotto tripod, B+W Neutral Density Filters (10 and 6 stop), and Think Tank City Walker 20 bag, I headed out the door to brave the 35+ mph winds and sea spray.

When I got to the park, the waves were cresting and white-capped. They were about 2 feet tall. The surf along the shore was pretty rough. The Sun was beginning to set so I had to get to my spot pretty quickly.

Fluffy Waters 2

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - A stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – A stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

My first spot was an outcropping on the east side of the Boardwalk. I set my tripod up and attached my Neewer intervalometer/timer so I could have multi-minute exposures. The wind was strong enough to blow the remote around so I tied it to one of the tripod legs.

Because of the wind, I kept the legs short, which gives it more stability. I also used my camera bag as a sandbag to keep it stable. The winds were strong enough that I felt unstable, so I made sure my gear wouldn’t end up in Bellingham Bay.

Blue Hour

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - Blue hour during stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – Blue hour during stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

Before attaching the filter, I composed my shot, made sure it was focused, then covered the eyepiece to prevent stray light from going in, set my shutter speed and aperture, then screwed on the filter.

I’ve used my camera at long shutter speeds before so I wasn’t too worried about noise. Yeah, it’s an older Nikon D300s, but it actually does really well.

Night on the Boardwalk

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography - A stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography – A stormy Tuesday evening Nov. 17, 2015, on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

***TIP:  To prevent stray light from entering the eyepiece which can ruin your images or give you an inaccurate meter reading, cover the eyepiece. Cameras usually come with a cap for the eyepiece. If yours doesn’t have one, use a piece of black gaffer’s tape. You can buy it at your local camera shop or online. It’s pretty handy just to have.

***TIP: When using dark filters like a B+W ND3.0, it is best to compose then focus before each shot before putting it on. It makes your life easier. Autofocus won’t work. In fact, it’s so dark you can’t even see what you’re photographing in broad daylight.

Prints are available for purchase. Click on the photos and it will take you directly to the gallery that they’re in. Or click here: Images of Beautiful Bellingham, Wash.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul Conrad is an award-winning photographer living in Bellingham north of Seattle, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

His clients include Getty Images, Wire Image, AirBnB, The Bellingham Herald, and many local business in Whatcom County. Previous clients are Associated Press, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and many others.

Although his specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings.

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