On a recent trip to Maine, I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with long exposure photography using the Olympus OM-D E-M1. The main subjects for my long exposures photographs were waterfalls and the waves on the Maine coast.
I this blog, I'll discuss long exposure photography techniques in general, specifics for the Olympus OM-D, and example long exposure photographs and the settings and techniques used to create them.
ISO 200, f/18, .4 Second Exposure, Circular Polarizer, Cloudy Morning around 10am
I used the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and one lens to create the photographs in this blog. I also used a variety of filters used both individually and stacked to get the long shutter speeds for different lighting conditions. Below is the equipment I used for my long exposure photography in Maine.
- Olympus OM-D E-M1
- Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm Pro Lens – a good, fast wide angle zoom lens in the 24-70mm range (full frame) is a good choice for long exposure landscape photography. With the Olympus 12-40mm Pro lens, I experienced very little vignetting even when stacking filters.
- Vanguard Tripod – A sturdy tripod that can also get close to the ground is essential for sharp photos when photographing long exposures on a windy sea coast.
- Remote Shutter Release. A remote shutter release is essential for long exposures where pressing the shutter button could add movement to the image capture.
- Tiffen 62mm Circular Polarizer
- Tiffen 62mm Neutral Density 0.3 Filter
- Tiffen 62mm Neutral Density 0.6 Filter
- Tiffen 62mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filter
- Tiffen Belt Style Filter Pouch
ISO 100 (Low), f/22, 3.2 Second Exposure, Stacked .3, .6, .9 ND Filters, Sunny Morning around 10:30am
I decide to purchase the 3 strengths of ND filters and stack them as necessary instead of a variable ND filter after reading numerous reviews of variable ND filters. Many reviews complain of severe vignetting and discoloration at the darkest settings of the filter. The 4 filter Tiffin Case made it extremely easy to find and change filters.
It is best to photograph long exposures near sunrise or sunset, or on cloudy days. However, long exposure photographs can be taken during sunny conditions, it just requires stacking filters, low ISOs, and smaller apertures
The one drawback that I found when stacking multiple filters was the photos were a bit soft and required extra processing and sharpening.
ISO 100 (Low), f/20, 2 Second Exposure, Stacked .6, .9 ND Filters , Sunny Morning around 11am
Olympus O-MD Long Exposure Tips
- Shoot in manual mode to better control the shutter speed and aperture that you want for the look you are trying to achieve.
- With a DSLR the viewfinder composes through the lens, you need to compose and focus, prior to attaching a dark filter. With the Olympus OM-D and an electronic viewfinder, I was able to composing even when stacking filters.
- With the DSLR, I also lost autofocus with a dark filter. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has focus peaking that is viewable on both the viewfinder and LCD, that helps with manual focus.
Written by Martin Belan
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