I often get asked what I use for my long exposure photography.
I use the Lee Filters universal foundation holder for my commercial architectural work and long exposure photography.
- Lee Filters 100mm System Foundation Kit this costs around £55 this is my main holder as it allows the use of a 105mm circular polariser.
These little rings are very expensive for what they are and lens manufacturers keep moving the goal post so the first adaptor should be for you most used lenses.
I favour prime lenses over zoom lens though I do own a few I use these:
- 24mm f3.5 TS-E mkII has an 82mm filter size this is my main architectural lens.
- 35mm f1.4 L has a 72mm filter size and is one of my favourite lenses.
- 135mm f2.0 L 72mm filter size I love this lens but it’s less used in this area luckily it has the same filter size as the 35mm
- 24-105mm f4 L has a 77mm filter size when I’m scouting locations this is the lens I carry it covers my most used focal lengths though isn’t ideal for critical architectural work.
These 3 adaptors will cost around £150
These are the important parts of the system and fall into three areas ND, Graduated and Polarising.
- Lee Big Stopper a ND1000 filter that has a 10stop factor £100
- Lee Little Stopper a ND600 filter that has a 6 stop factor £100
- Lee soft graduated filters 0.3 0.6 and 0.9 £195
- Lee circular polariser the landscape version (A slimmer polariser that can be used down to 16/17mm without vignetting) £175
An essential part of field kit and not worth sampling on cheap domestic products. Again I use Lee filter cloth and fluid I wouldn’t risk using a glasses cleaner which often have a anti mist ingredient and chemicals that might damage my filters. A kit is around £20 I replace these every year.
This is where I haven’t found the ideal solution so have devised a work around to suit me.
The bag is a Tamrac photo-video 1 it has three areas that keep items separate with no risk of scratching the filters.
The front pocket holds the holder
The interior holds the filters these are in the metal containers rather than the pouches as these are glass filters and it doesn’t take much contact pressure to break these.
I carry a pair is white lint free gloves the type used to handle negitives to prevent any skin oils being transferred to the lens surface.
The top has a zip pouch this is where I store my adaptors and the cable for the trigger.
My main bag
Thinktank City Walker 30 it’s a large shoulder bag big enough to hold my camera with lens and filters fitted.
Canon 5d mkIII
Weather and stray light protection
The key to a successful long exposure image is the steadiness of the camera, the slightest movement from vibration even on a long exposure will cause unsharp images. Not many people understand the importance since with such long exposures it won’t be noticed, what happens is the camera will change position after every movement it will not return to the exact same position and this shift means the image moves across the pixels, the higher the camera resolution the worse the effect and the more likely it will happen.
I fell back on my trust Benbo Trekker No1 Classic a very heavy tripod (Extends to 1.57m (62″), closes to 0.84m (33″), weight 3.4kg (7.5 lbs)) I’ve owned this for decades it’s not easy to walk great distances even using the carry bag its a lump of metal but it’s strong, ridged and can be locked down. Even this support can move so I weight the centre column not with my camera bag as I only carry the bare essentials I use rocks in a mesh bag, I can add 5 – 30kg if I want the bag changes off a marine grade 500lbs eye that is fitted to the bottom of the centre column the newer versions of this tripod come with a hook you can buy a replacement column to add the hook.
Another risk of vibration and movement is when shooting in portrait mode, having the camera off axis make it prone to wind movement, no matter how tight the camera is it will move the ideal solution is to use a L bracket keeping camera on the centre axis of the support, the Manfrotto L bracket isn’t a novelty its an essential part of the system. When aligning everything fine adjustments are needed that makes a ball head a no no you need a gear head another precision item that has 3 axis control in very precise steps and there is zero creep another source of movement we don’t want. Occasionally I need to have my camera at a higher level than my tripod can achieve for this I use a Manfrotto extension column with the support clamp removed, this is coupled with a 3/8″ x 3/8″ adaptor which has locking screws, making the column very ridged but its a source of movement so I don’t use it on windy days or I shield the camera from the wind if possible with my car, or positioning my camera in a sheltered spot.
- Manfrotto Junior Geared 410 the best gear head on the market, this model is ideal for 35mm bodies the cost is about £140
- Manfrotto extension column an accessory I need from time to time to raise my camera 60cm higher than the tripod is capable of and cost around £79.
- Manfrotto coupler which costs around £25
- Benbo Trekker No1 Classic currently cost £165
I use a Yonguno MC-36-R C3 wireless intervalometer, it must be about the least expensive item in my bag, but its worth its weight in gold, it can operate wirelessly or wired so I can choose what suits best. It has a huge range of accurate delay and exposure times along with the intervalometer. You can buy these on eBay for around £30 delivered.
I hope you enjoyed my article and helped answer some questions regarding gear, I will update this page soon please check back.
I run group workshops on long exposure photography and also offer one 2 one training, if you want to take your photography skills a step further drop me a message. Wills