Weekly Challenge – Low Light


Turneresqe again

Here are three photos for the weekly challenge of Low Light.

What an excellent excuse to finally buy that tripod I’ve been going to buy for …. years.  That means it’s time to learn about long exposures.

When I started reading up on this, the stress was on stability, creating a sharp picture in spite of the extended exposure time.  I started looking for photographic art movements that deliberately shunned stability.  Sometimes, the best way to learn about something is to also work with its opposite.

Art movements need to shun stability in order to be an art movement.  In response to the popular trend of the day, someone will break away and try something different.  Sometimes, a new popular trend emerges; sometimes, not.

A movement called Pictoralism was a reaction against those in the art world who argued that photography could never be artistic.  In order to gain acceptance for this essentially scientific and automated process, photographers looked for ways to emulate painters.  So they manipulated the images.  If no-one else could replicate the result, then the automated component had been usurped by the human (aka artistic) element.

Straight Photography was then a reaction against Pictorialism. Straight Photography was about clarity of detail and recording reality.  It claimed that photography was an art form in itself, with its own purity of process, and did not need to borrow from the other arts.

Today, we seem to have a blend of both Straight Photography and Pictorialism.  The long exposure shots used as examples by dPS for this challenge aim for clarity and sharpness while allowing some of the painterly elements to act as highlight or juxtaposition.


On the technical front, step one was to find the camera settings that produce long exposures.  This involved letting go of my reliance on the Aperture Priority Mode and switching to Shutter Priority.  The longest exposure my camera can handle is 1/4000 – opps, wrong way, that’s the shortest.  The longest exposure my camera can handle is 30 minutes.

I wondered what would happen if I hung my camera around my neck for 30 minutes and wandered along the lakeside this evening?  I bought a shutter cable.  I bought the tripod.

In my wanderings along the lakeside, just opposite the National Gallery of Australia where the “Turner from the Tate” exhibition is underway, I held the camera by my side and randomly pressed the shutter release.  Exposure time was 2 seconds (I think).  The best of the bunch was this shot of reflections, though the bird is swimming, not flying ….

Turner esq 1


I then tried using the viewfinder to position the far side of the lake in the frame.  I kept moving.  The image that opens this post is one of the results.  The building is the National Library.

And finally, for those who prefer their photography with a little more clarity, let’s close with the sunset.  Some might argue that it is still pictorial in style.  Maybe next time I’ll use the tripod.


Sunset 1


Related posts

If you enjoyed my approach in this post, you might also enjoy:

Or check out the Challenge archives.




3 responses to “Weekly Challenge – Low Light”

  1. Helen Avatar

    Canberra is a wonderful place for taking photographs. It has so many wonderful scenes.


    1. Cherrie Zell Avatar

      That’s very true, Helen. Great architecture and sculpture. Then just around the corner, there is the Australian bush in all its wonder and detail.

      My Dad loves orchids, so I’ve passed your blog address on to him. Thanks.


      1. Helen Avatar

        When I visited Canberra it was only for a week, and there is so much more I want to see there. Sadly I could not spend much time in the surrounding bushland. Maybe next time…


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