long exposures

By the Second Ring Road at Dusk

Traffic on the Second Ring Road at Dusk
6s, f/20, ISO 200, 24mm

The second ring road in Beijing (more or less) runs the parameter of the old city wall. The Beijing city wall stood for more than 500 years until most of it was torn down beginning in the 1960s to make room for Subway Line 2 and the second ring road. The Beijing Ancient Observatory, which formed part of the city wall, is visible on the left.

I shot the picture just after sunset on a hot July summer night on a pedestrian bridge. The exposure is six seconds long at the lens' minimum aperture at f/22. Taking long exposures on Beijing's pedestrian bridges can be tricky because the bridges to to shake a little large vehicles pass below. If the platform had been a bit steadier, I would have gone for a slightly longer exposure to make the light trails a bit stronger.


30s, f/4.0, ISO 1000, 24mm

It had been a while since I had experimented with shooting the night sky.  I've always been fascinated with astronomy.  I worked at a planetarium in high school and recall how frustrating taking pictures of stars would be with a film camera.  With the instant feedback of a digital camera, it's a lot easier to get a decent photo of the night sky without investing a lot of time in sorting out the right exposure.  Trial and error really go a long way here.

I took these two shots on a cold January night near Hornbæk in Denmark.  Hornbæk is about an hour north of Copenhagen and near the water.  It's a popular spot for summer houses but in the winter time it's pretty quiet.  And there is very little light at night.  On a clear, cold winter night, the night sky is absolutely breathtaking.  The first shot is a 30 second exposure, featuring most of the Orion constellation.  Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky is also visible on the left side behind the trees (or try following Orion's belt to the left).  In the second shot below, the exposure is about half an hour long.  It captures the stars as they appear to rotate around the North Star (of course the stars don't really move but we/Earth does).

33m, f/4.0, ISO 800, 25mm