I truly love long exposure photography – you could say that it's my first love (again – photographically speaking) but it does have it's drawbacks. One of the main ones for me is the sheer amount of kit I have to lug around. Camera, lens(es), tripod, filters, remote shutter release, cleaning kit (trust me, You really don't want ANY dust or smudges on your lens of filter(s) when doing long exposures), spare batteries because you'll burn through them in no time …. it all adds up to a lot of kit to carry around.
I've got a nice Lowepro backpack that I put everything in and it's great. I've been up mountains in Wales with it and traipsed through muddy river beds in Fareham and it's never let me down. It's fair to say It's my favorite bag for when I'm going off-piste so to speak.
You may be wondering where this is going? Let me explain.
One morning, I set out for a walk along the Southsea sea front with my bag comfortably sat on my back. I love Portsmouth and Southsea , it's such an interesting area to photograph but I digress.
I'd found a composition that I liked, set up my camera on it's tripod, framed everything up, worked out my exposure time and I was in the process of attaching my filters to my lens when I realized I'd left the adapter ring on my coffee table so I had no way of attaching the filters to the lens. Grrr.
Now, there is a technique where you can take loads of "normal" photographs and stack them together in Photoshop to produce a Long exposure-type effect – I've done it and got some decent results but I just didn't want to do it this time.
I packed away my tripod, filters and all the other bits and pieces but I really didn't want to miss the great morning light that was illuminating Portsmouth that morning. I put the strap on my Canon 5d mk 2 and just went for a walk, taking photo's of whatever caught my eye along my stroll.
Wow! All of a sudden it dawned on me that I didn't need to carry what sometimes felt like an entire camera shop on my back to get great photos. I realized that each shoot didn’t require near military planning to prepare my gear and pack my bag.
I could just pick up my camera and take great photographs at a moments notice. Basically, I had somehow convinced myself that unless a photo was a long exposure, it had no real place in my portfolio.
How very wrong I was! Now if the mood takes me, I can just throw my camera in a discrete shoulder bag and wander around the city I've grown to love and a whole new world of photography has opened up to me.
Does this mean that I've stopped doing long exposure photography? Of course not, my passion for it is still as strong as it ever was and you will still find me patiently standing by my camera on it's tripod, counting down the minutes until my shutter closes.
The point of this blog post is that if I hadn't forgotten my adapter for my filter holder that morning, or if I'd gotten in a huff with myself and sulked all the back to my flat, I wouldn't have discovered the joy of "Zen photography" and I think I wouldn't have grown as a photographer.
Embrace your mistakes because although this sounds corny, sometimes mistakes happen for a reason. You just don't see it at the time.