The Daily Snap – June 17

©Darwin Wiggett

This snapshot of my camera set-up shows how I am doing long exposures with my Canon EOS-1ds Mark III. First I set up my composition with no filters in place. I used my 24mm TS-E lens for a wide-angle view. I manually focused 1/3rd of the way into the scene, and then tilted the lens into the plane of cracked earth until both the foreground and the background looked sharp (I used Live View to check sharpness). I then put my lens at f10. I normally use some aperture between f 8 and f11 with my 24mm lens (these are the sharpest apertures with this lens). Then I placed a Singh-Ray LB Polarizer into the first slot of the Cokin Z-pro filter holder. Next I placed a two-stop hard edge Singh-Ray grad in the furthest slot on the Z-Pro holder to hold back exposure in the sky. I took a meter reading and got an exposure of 1/8th of a second. I then placed the Lee “Big Stopper” (10 stop ND filter) into the middle slot of the Cokin holder and wrapped a black velvet cloth over the filters and filter holder – see shot above. This cloth prevents stray light from bouncing around between the filters which would cause the image to go ‘milky’ during long exposure. Finally I set my camera to bulb and made an exposure of 2 minutes at f10 (10 stops longer than the 1-8th second exposure) using a cable release. The resulting photo of Abraham Lake (in spring) looks like this:

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon EOS-1ds Mark III

51 Responses to “The Daily Snap – June 17”

  1. Beautiful and thank you much for the background on how you got that photo. I am more and more thinking I may need to add a tilt-shift to my arsenal. I usually try to accomplish something similar to this shot with a vertical panorama, but that gets increasingly difficult when I want to add a polarizer. Even worse when adding a split-grad.

  2. Hi Darwin,

    Two questions, do you put the Singh-Ray Polarizer close to the lens for some particular reason? or it is the place were it is more confortable to you?

    And, did you buy some specific velvet? I mean, some velvet that already comes with an easy way to put it arround the filter holder..

    By the way, I like a lot this photograph…

    • The Singh-Ray polarizer id designed to go into the closest slot to the camera by default and by design. I just grabbed a piece of black velvet from a fabric store – or an art supply or craft store


  3. yardstick Says:

    Thanks for the methodology, Darwin. It never occurred to me to use a square ND filter. The circular variety I use is such a pain to use since I can’t see anything through the viewfinder and if I need to tweak my composition, I have to unscrew the darn thing (which isn’t easy). And if I’m stacking circular filters, the process gets even more laborious.

  4. David McLaughlin Says:

    Thanks for sharing your process of doing long exposures.

  5. Darwin, thank you for again providing your learned technical expertise.

    No pun intended here, but if you were a painter on this photo, you would be included in the Canadian Group of Seven.
    Super Photo for my tastes!!
    Evan Spellman

  6. Darwin, thanks for sharing the technique with those of us who are learning how to use filters in our photography. This is the first time I read about the black velvet, and I am sure it is also the first time for many other readers as well. Like David, I would be interested to know the type of velvet you use and where to buy it.

    Franklin Wang

  7. The photo is outstanding! It was interesting being able to read the process that you used to create this shot.
    More like this, please!

  8. Wow! Thanks very much for sharing the technique behind the image. That short post gave me a lot to think about and experiment with. Oh and the image is amazing on top of it.

    Thanks again!


  9. Awesome shot Darwin. Do you have to correct for color cast with this filter? I need to find one!

  10. Great post Darwin. You always provide others with more knowledge and we thank you for that. Does the type of black cloth matter? Also, does the colour need correction with your filters? I find that when I stack my two Cokin ND filters (a 3 stop and a 2 stop) on top of my circular polarizer I get a gray/pink colour on occasion (usually in cloud cover).

    Thanks again for the post.

    • The type of balckcloth does not matter, just seal any light from coming in betwween the filters.. No colour corrections needed even when you stack the ND with a grad. Darwin

  11. I’m not one to comment often, more of a lurker… BUT THIS PHOTO really did it for me, wow. Love the color, contrast, the cracked ground with beautiful sky, so good. Your technical skill is really amazing, thanks for taking the time to walk us through a shot like this.

  12. Thanks for the breakdown of how you make long exposures. I never considered using a black cloth to stop any stray light from entering. Great stuff indeed. Rock on!

  13. Darwin, with all the people inquiring about velvet you should market the “Darwin Wiggett Black Velvet Light Blocker”

  14. The Big Stopper. I think I could have used one of those on my last shoot – as I wasn’t able to cut enough light with a 3x neutral density + a polarizer + a 3 stop grad ND during the day (tho’ – during the evening it was plenty).

    And I like the black cloth idea. Pretty easy to throw a small piece into the bottom of the bag.

  15. With all of these new techniques, I am going to be really busy trying all of them on my next photo shoot. Thanks for being so helpful Darwin. I was first wondering how you keep the cloth so secure that no light gets past it, but I guess you have made something like a tube out of the cloth and used some clips to hold it on. I will ask the girl next door if she has a pair of black panties I can have to make one of these. Hahaha. I will just tell her “It was Darwin’s idea.”.

  16. Thanks for the mini lesson. I have been looking into long exposure lately. Not too much success yet. But will keep trying!
    Love the way you got the pine cone in the very foreground of the shot. And a wonderful shot it was!

  17. Stephane Says:

    What thread count is the black velvet? Just kidding. Amazing shot. I cannot wait to go to the Rockies in the fall. Your photography is really inspiring, thanks for sharing your techniques. How well do tilt shift lenses work with APSC sized sensors? Probably the same, just want to make sure I’m not missing something. Thanks again for sharing this with us.

  18. A great post! Lots of work for a photo, but well worth the effort! We could all use the lession to slow down a bit.

  19. Mylan Dawson Says:

    Very helpful post and (as always) a great image. Now, more about that Black velvet . . .

    As interesting as black velvet is, I really want to know how is it that you currently have the time (and energy) to post these pics and respond to all the nice people’s questions with you (I think) currently out on the Extreme Saskatchewan Photo Workshop and Tour? Is the tour not Extreme as I thought? Or, are you really superhuman?

    • I did not have time to post from Extreme SK, all the Daily Snaps were pre-scripted to appear while I was going. AND wait till you see just how EXTREME things were. It was crazy. Darwin

  20. Absolute corker of a shot!

  21. WOW!! Those clouds look pretty mean, and they compliment the cracked lake bed very well. Your long exposure technique seems quite ingenious, I’ll have to give it a try to see if I can have a little more luck on my next attempt. I too seem to get a very ugly color cast with my Cokin P filters… is this something that could be fixed with the purchase of a higher quality filter such as a Lee or Singh-Ray? Thanks Darwin!! JL

  22. awesome photo darwin, you didn’t by chance see my raft floating around in the lake did you?

  23. Olivier Says:

    Hi Darwin
    Thanks for this insight. I have a question though (and it is not about the filters).
    You say that you focus first and then select the aperture.
    Wouldn’t it be better to do it the other way around. Check the sharpness with the desired aperture (with the aperture preview button)? I understand that this will make your preview image very dark. But maybe there is a work around.
    Your thoughts on this please.
    Thank you!

    • Focus first (one third of the way into the scene). Use AV mode and then use Live View on your camera and magnify to 5X. On Canon cameras hold down the DOF preview button and then rotate the aperture dial to various settings from f2.8 to f22 and you can check the sharpness due to DOF at every aperture by scrolling from foreground to background. Pcik the aperture that gives you the effect you want. This does not work on most Nikon cameras except for the D3, D3x etc. Darwin

      • Olivier Says:

        Hi Darwin.
        Thanks for the follow up answer.
        So you use the DOF preview button when you check the sharpness?
        If so my previous question is redundant. Because that was what I needed to know. I was a little confused by your original post…

      • Yep I use DOF preview but in Live View mode.

        sorry for the confusion


  24. Hendrik Says:

    Stunning shot! Thanks for the explanation, didn’t you say you are going to post a filter test soon?

    Hope the water will be back in winter for all the nice ice patterns!

  25. Wow, beautiful 🙂

  26. Image well worth the effort! I am a new subscriber to your daily snaps and noticed that you shoot a lot of the images with the Canon G-11. Have you written an article or have done a similar description on how to set-up the Canon G series cameras for this type of shooting. I own an older Canon G-9.

    Love those daily snap images. It actually makes checking e-mail worthwhile!


  27. Great Image Darwin! It looks more like a desert than a lake, as opposed to the prairie that looks like a lake!

  28. Impressive shot, Darwin! Great information here, I never heard of black velvet before, thanks for the tip! 😀

  29. mike dimartino Says:

    Beautiful shot! And thanks for the tips.

  30. The comments to this post make it obvious that we are all hungry for technique. Like many others I appreciate your willingness to share. Did you use the Big Stopper to soften the clouds? Love the blog!

  31. aswirly Says:

    Thanks for the background info. The result is simply amazing.

  32. The black velvet is a great idea!

  33. […] up the tripod and taken 5 shots for an HDR but I didn’t. What I learned from Darwin Wigget blog post is that maybe a Neutral Density filter would have come in handy for what I was trying to […]

  34. Daniel Menheer Says:

    Hey Darwin. Been a fan for some time now and always like to come and check out anything new. Great post and love all the added info on technique. One question… how does that polarizer from Singh Ray work if it’s inserted into the slots of your filter holder? I was just on their website and can only find polarizers that are ring mounted. Is this a square format polarizer (and if so how does it work if it still needs to be rotated), or is there some special adapter for inserting circle polarizers into square holders (and if so where do you get it from)? I’m in the middle of revamping my filter set and would love as much info on it as possible as there is a thousand and one holders/filters out there to choose from! Any info would be awesome. Thanks again. Daniel

    • Singh-Ray sells drop in polarizers for both the Cokin P-size holder and the Cokin Z-pro holder (same size as the Lee Holder). The polarizer is circular and rotates within the holder. Darwin

  35. Hello Darwin!

    When you focus 1/3 into the scene, you focus on 1/3 of the frame or 1/3 in distance?

    Thanks a lot!

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