Brooks Pro Tip: How to Approach Long-Duration Exposures (B/W Film Doesn't Have Noise!)
January 22, 2013
•General, Photography, Brooks Pro Tips
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From the very beginning of photography, long exposures have captured durations of time we cannot see. One of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre’s oldest existing still lifes took eight hours to capture. Because of photography’s unique ability to distill durations within a single frame, it can compartmentalize durations of time, and this has always fascinated me.
With digital capture, longer exposures always result in an increase in noise. Black and white film doesn’t have noise, and for long exposures, it is a wonderful tool to use, but film isn’t without its own unique characteristics when used for long exposures. Film’s reciprocity effect needs to be calculated for long exposures, but this is easy to remedy with the manufacturer’s long exposure correction chart.
To achieve longer exposures during daylight hours, I utilize neutral density filters to accomplish the desired duration of exposure. I always carry 3, 6, 9, 10 and 12 stop ND filters, which can be combined with my red, orange, yellow, yellow green or polarizing filters.
In the above image of the church I photographed in North Dakota, I combined a 10 stop neutral density filter with a polarizer to increase separation of the clouds and the sky during the long exposure. The image was photographed with a Hasselblad on Kodak T-Max 100 film, and the actual exposure for the image was 2 minutes at f/22.
- Christopher Broughton, Professional Photography faculty
Photo ©Christopher Broughton