Sex Series (2003)
© Atta Kim
Korean photographer Atta Kim has done several experiments with long exposures some even featuring couples making love (above). In his eight-hour photograph of the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York, the buildings are crisp and life is just a shadow. One of the liveliest corners of the world looks dead.
We could make Oxford Street look empty on its busiest day if we could expose a photograph long enough so that all the people and cars in movement would blur until they disappear.
The shutter speed can be controlled to capture more or less blur depending on the speed that the subject moves. Experimentation is important, varying the settings, trying something new and not giving up at the first failed attempt.
To get long exposures, usually we set low ISO sensitivity (100 or less) combined with small apertures (high f/number) to get little light into the camera, and therefore allowing us to leave the shutter open or a long time. Play around with these three settings: ISO, Shutter-Speed and Aperture. Remember the BULB setting which enables exposures longer than 30 seconds on SLR cameras. Use a tripod and a shutter release cable (with a lock) if you have.
Try to forget your light meter as on BULB it will actually disappear and on long exposures it will probably be useless anyway. Try to think and change the settings as you see the first results, for example: If the first picture comes out too bright, close the aperture, lower the ISO or leave the shutter open for less time. If it comes out too dark, do the opposite: Open the aperture, increase the ISO or leave the shutter open for longer. Do it gradually, take notes, and have fun.
We prepared a Pinterest board to get you inspired.
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