I have photographed them before, several years ago, but as the rules dictate that images have to be taken in the preceding week, I thought’d I’d have a go at re-shooting them. I’ve also recently started a project called Lunchtime@Leith where I try to post images online that I’ve managed to capture while on my lunch hour at work.
From the outset I knew that I wanted this shot to be a moody, long exposure mono shot with a dark sky and some cloud movement behind the cranes, I think it’s important to have an idea of how you want the final image to look when shooting. The forecast for the week looked good – dry and windy with plenty of cloud – ideal for some long exposure work. However, I ended up making three visits to the cranes before I got something I was happy with. On the first two occasions the white cloud which had been happily blowing over all morning suddenly disappeared, leaving me with clear blue skies – which although very nice, was a bit boring and not what I had in mind.
As I said, the cranes are only a 10-15 min walk from the office (even less if you drive), so that only leaves approx. 30 minutes of shooting time and, although that may sound like plenty of time for one shot, when doing long exposure work that time passes very quickly. The good thing was that by my third visit I knew where to stand, what my composition was going to be and had a pretty good idea of the camera settings I was going to use.
As it was the middle of the day, to achieve the desired long exposure I was going to be using a Lee Big Stopper (+10 stop) filter – which is basically a very dark piece of glass that fits over the front of the lens and allows you to take very long exposures, even in bright daylight. My process for taking long exposures images with this filter is to start by taking the shot as ‘normal’ with no filter attached to work out the basic exposure settings. In this case that turned out to be ISO100 / 1/60th / f16.