A while back I finally got a chance to get out and shoot with my 10 stop neutral density filter. It allows me to take photos with 30 second – 2 minute long exposures in daylight. you can see my first attempts in the original post here.
I bought this filter to experiment with, and to use for personal work, photos that might end up as art, or shots that might be just for me. I had fun experimenting, and was pretty happy with the results. I left the filter in my most used gear bag, and forgot about it for a while.
When my brother asked me for a ride to the Vancouver Airport a few weeks ago, I grabbed my gear, remembering that the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Speed Skating Oval had recently been completed near the airport, and was supposed to be a unique and spectacular building. I thought I’d take a look at it after dropping my bro at YVR. Great Architecture always intrigues me, that’s why I became an Architectural Photographer. Sometimes I just go out and look at buildings, sometimes I photograph them for fun, even if it’s not a work assignment. When I arrived at the Olympic Oval, the conditions could not have been better. The light was in just the right place, still quite low in the sky, but with a bright daytime look. The blue sky and clouds mirrored the brilliant colours of the ice blue architecture, accented with orange wooden beams for a dash of contrast.
In a case like this, I have to take photos, I don’t have a choice. It’s like an addiction, looks…..soooo…..goood,……..must…..take……photos….! It’s the same feeling that would compel a tourist to take 2 dozen shots of a beautiful sunset, even though each one looks just like the one before. It just looks so good.
I took about 150 frames, wandering around, exploring angles, different lenses, from far and near, low and high. I was just about to pack up and move on, when I remembered the 10 stop ND filter in my gear bag ( I use a Lowe Pro Photo Trekker in case you were wondering – Free plug for Lowe Pro cause their stuff is so good, and has a lifetime warranty) It was a pretty windy day, so the clouds and trees were moving quickly, if I made a long exposure I would probably get a unique look to the architecture image. And did I? Yes.
Now, I’m not the first to take a daylight long exposure of a building, and I won’t be the last. But, what I did was add a technique to my photography style quiver. I learned something new by experimenting, and applied it to my personal style. I really love the results, they add an bit of artistic flair to a standard assignment result. I will experiment more with the technique, and refine it, learn how to use it as a tool to provide my architectural clients with a better, more unique product. I will definitely use it on assignments in the future, for the right clients.
The take away here? No matter what your discipline, your style is not static, it grows and evolves. If you try something new, and it feels right, then go with it. Experiment, learn, apply, repeat.