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Long exposure tricks: Use a low camera angle

Last week, I went out and photographed after our first big snow in West Michigan. I kept my pack light, taking just my Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100mm f/4 PRO lens, NiSi 10-stop neutral density filter and a Vanguard Alta tripod.

We received about five inches of snow overnight, and it was that wet snow — perfect for sticking on trees. I made my way east to the Fallasburg Bridge in Lowell, a suburb of my hometown Grand Rapids, Mich. I was amazed at the scene. While I had photographed the Fallasburg Bridge several times before, I had never actually been there with freshly fallen snow on the ground.

Composing at chest height

I played around with a few different angles — both vertical and horizontal — to see if I couldn’t get “the shot” I desired. I wasn’t sure what that was at first. I knew I wanted to make the water still enough to get a good reflection of the bridge, so I started with a few longer exposures at first, taken at about chest-height.

But then I saw the water, and the leaves and textures in the foreground, swirling and moving towards the bridge. I knew that I had to capture this — it was that special part of the scene that I had to have in my photograph.

I decided to go with a shorter exposure — a mere four seconds. And I was liking what I was getting. I could see the movement in the water but still had an exposure long enough to get a pretty good reflection of the bridge in the water.

Getting low

From there, I decided to go low. I put my tripod legs to their lowest position and turned my camera vertical, so I would get the water and sky to be even in my shot, which helped to create a balance in my photograph.

I kept that same four-second exposure and ended up with the photograph of the day.

Sometimes shooting at eye level works, but getting low can bring out some details that will make your photo shine! For me, the movement in the water really helped to bring life to the photograph.

The Fallasburg Bridge after editing with Luminar 2018
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