Saturday Afternoons and Impromptu Long Exposures

For the last few days, the weather in my city has been unbearably hot. This isn’t from a freak heatwave – it’s sadly just regular summer weather. I have never enjoyed the heat or humidity, and often find myself sweating away while browsing how much a flight to Alaska would cost… it seems cooler there (but maybe a bit too far away – over 16,000km to be exact)

So, where does one go to cool down locally? The beach, obviously! Glorious sea breezes, shady spots, and a constant fine mist of ocean spray certainly does wonders to my personal overheating situation. However, I had no intentions of getting in the water, as I had a photography itch needed to be scratched. Killing two birds with one stone – taking photos while cooling down. Let’s get started then.

This photo is one of the first that I took, and has an exposure time of 30 seconds, using my trusty Hoya ND400X Neutral Density filter to keep the exposure at an acceptable level. I do quite like the “misty” look this length of exposure creates – it almost looks surreal. While the scene may look deserted, the beach was actually incredibly busy, with a lot of people out on a late Saturday afternoon walk. I didn’t stand here for much longer, as a rather large wave decided to interrupt me and left half my body soaked (I managed to grab the camera just in time). Suitably refreshed, I decided to move along.

The infamous “whalebone” pier – one of the most recognizable landmarks in Umhlanga. I’ve shot this pier a few times over the years, as it’s rather unique appearance is a stark contrast to the ocean surroundings. Also being a 30 second exposure, the ghostly trails of some people walking along the pier are visible if you look really close.

Heading back down onto the sand, I decided to brave another close ocean shot. In order to get more of a motion feeling in this photo, I had to dial my exposure right back down to two seconds – any longer and the scene would start to become “misty” (like in the first photo…fine for some occasions, but not my aim here). Judging the exact distance to stand from the waterline proved to be a bit tricky, but I eventually managed to get this one, which I’m reasonably happy with. Besides, I didn’t feel like an involuntary second wave shower.

To end off with, I returned to my first spot, and made sure to stand on a slightly higher vantage point. Rolling my exposure back up to 30 seconds, I decided to zoom in and try capture some more intimate details among the rocks. Figuring that I already had a wide shot of this scene in colour, I converted this one to black and white during post-processing, and am quite pleased with the results. Once again, the “mistiness” gives it a surreal feeling, probably emphasized more by the B&W surroundings.

Well, that’s about it for my mildly productive Saturday afternoon – it was certainly more fun than sitting in my lounge sweating away. But hey, if I had aircon, then maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to get out and do something? Every cloud has a silver lining…

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