Long Night Exposures and Cherry Blossoms

Stepping out last night on the way to the convenience store, I was struck by the halting appearance of the cherry blossoms lit by the streetlamps. I decided to get my tripod and try some long exposures to see whether I could capture the mood, but found that attempting a 30-second exposure was a sure way to bring up a breeze, thereby ruining the shot.

After a while, I packed things up, only to see the wind totally stop. So I tried again, and sure enough, the breeze returned.

So, I tried a number of different views that didn't rely so strongly on the trees remaining perfectly still, and this shot came out nicely:

Shirakawa river, in Okazaki, Kyoto, Japan, April 2006
27mm @ f/10 / ISO 800 / 30 seconds        (click to expand)

It was quite dark at the time (10:30pm), and the picture shows much more than I could actually see at the time. For example, the litter of blossom petals all over the path were not easily seen. (The bossom petals would make a thick blanket of pink-hued white if it hadn't been raining so much lately, but as it is, only a scattering remains.)

The location, on the east side of the Shirakawa river in the Okazaki section of Kyoto, is almost exactly where I took a picture of Anthony one year ago:

standing next to the Shirakawa River, under cherry blossoms, in Kyoto,
Japan, April 2005

(Click the photo above for some seasonal poetry)

All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

When I was doing city photography, I was always satisfied with the 30 sec limit. After I went into the forests, I needed 5 – 10 min long exposures.. so I got myself the IR trigger. It’s very handy and works great for long exposures. Unfortunately our digital cameras are not fit for 2 – 3 hour long photography.

— comment by Kalyan on April 18th, 2006 at 3:41am JST (18 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I’d like longer exposures (so, for example, I’d not have to push to 800 ISO as I did this time), but for reasons I can’t fathom, the D200’s “bulb” mode (indefinite-length exposure mode) actually mimics the old air-pressure bulb to the extent that you have to actually hold down the shutter-release button the whole time you want the shutter open. That just makes no sense. It would make much more sense if it were to be one press opens the shutter, and a second press closing the shutter. You’d still likely get camera shake with the presses, but better shake for a short moment than for the entire 5-minute exposure.

Nikon has the MC-36 remote-control cord, which is a wired remote on an 85cm cable, that I’ve been thinking of getting, but it wasn’t actually available for a long time. Looking again now, I see it’s in stock. Still, $120 is ridiculous for a wired remote control. Why couldn’t Nikon put the standard threaded cable-release connector on the shutter release?

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on April 18th, 2006 at 7:38am JST (18 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Wow, beautiful photo — it’s pictures like this (and your ones of Heian shrine) that make me want to go back to Japan.

— comment by Sam on April 19th, 2006 at 7:26pm JST (18 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Nice night shot!

I invested in an MC-36 for doing some very long and to be honest, not so long exposures as it it can also do time lapsed work with specified intervals between shots. It’s a great bit of kit and to be honest for items like this I always buy from the Hong Kong dealers on ebay.

PS. Now also proud owner of D200 and the 18-200 VR. How did I ever live without them. My D70 feels like a child’s toy in comparison.

— comment by Brian Farrell on October 17th, 2006 at 12:18am JST (17 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink
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