Long Exposure Seascapes on PEI

There’s nothing I love more than going to a beach at sunset with my camera and a pack of filters, finding some interesting rocks, and watching the light fade away.

I heard that Prince Edward Island had red sand, but I had no idea that the beaches would be just like Mexico. Ok, when it is sunny and warm, it is just like Mexico :) Whether white or red, the texture of the sand is the same, soft and spongy, and there is so much of it.

To make these images, I used a Singh-Ray 2 stop hard graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky and even out the exposure of the image. Then I stacked on top of that a 4 stop neutral density filter which blocked out enough light to allow for the long shutter speed which blurred the ocean waves.

You have to experiment with the shutter speed to get the effect you desire. This image is a 5 second exposure.

The next image is a 10 second exposure. Notice how the ocean is more blurred and ethereal than the first image.

This final image is 1.3 seconds. Notice how there is more definition and detail in the movement of the water.

Filters are great fun to play with. Some people claim to be able to get the same effect in photoshop, but I think it is always better to get the image as close as you can to the final product in the camera. It gives you a better starting point when you get to photoshop. Besides, don’t we already spend enough time in front of a computer screen? As much as I love my iMac, I would rather be at the beach.

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    • Anne McKinnell says

      Thank you Russ, I’m glad I put the investment in the filters before my trip, although I haven’t been using the reverse ND grad very much. I think I need more practice with it.

  1. says

    Love the seascapes in today’s post. I’m inclined to agree with you, much better to get it in camera than to to spend ages fussing in photoshop to get the same effect.

    On a gear perspective – are you using the Lee filters and filter holder? Any thoughts on the filters? Issues with color casts etc?

    All the best,


    • Anne McKinnell says

      Hi Andy, I am using Singh-Ray filters and the Cokin holder. I have a set of Cokin graduated filters, but I find they have a strong magenta colour cast. The Singh-Ray graduated filters only seem to have a very slight colour cast. The Singh-Ray solid neutral density filter does have quite a magenta colour cast, but I find this easier to deal with in post processing since it affects the entire image evenly. Whereas if you have a colour cast with the graduated filters, you have to somehow fix half of your image, which is much more difficult. I have heard good things about the Lee filters too, but I have never tried them myself.

      Thanks for your visit and comments!

    • Anne McKinnell says

      Thank you Curt, yes I agree, the filters are a lot of fun. Too bad they’re so expensive though! But that’s true with all camera gear isn’t it?

    • Anne McKinnell says

      Hi Chris, thanks for your comments. No, I have not noticed any reflection problems at all. I did take my UV filter off of my lens though because I suspected it was causing image quality problems so if you are getting reflection it might be something to do with the UV filter and stacking other filters on top of it. Also, I believe you reduce reflection issues by putting the darkest filter on last. So if I am using a 3 stop grad and a 4 stop solid, I will put the 4 stop solid on last (which you pretty much have to do anyway if you plan on focussing because once that is on it is really hard to focus).

      I hope that helps. Have you had reflection problems?

    • Anne McKinnell says

      Hi Michael, thanks for your comments. When it comes to the long exposures, I can never decide which one I like the best, sometimes it’s the half second and sometimes the 10 second! So it is always interesting to get other people’s perspective. The only time I have problems with vignetting is if I am using my wide angle lens which is a Sigma 10-20 EFS. On that lens, I have to zoom in to at least 15mm to remove the vignette. But I have no problems with the 24-105.

      • says

        That is why I take a variety of exposure times usually – so I can decide later. I also have the cokin filter holder (cokin P I presume?) and also find it vignetting on the 10-22 and at the wider angles of my 17-55. Thinking of cutting off the outer slot with a hacksaw to see if that helps a bit – I have read that is a partial solution. I give no guarantee of this to anyone who tries it!
        Michael Russell recently posted..Pitt River Sunset ReflectionMy Profile

    • Anne McKinnell says

      Thanks Edith, I’m glad you mentioned which one you like the best. I meant to ask the question in the post because I am always curious how other people see these long exposures.

  2. Larry says

    Great shots young lady. Love your work and wish I could do what you are doing. Traveling for an extended period of time, and photographing the places you visit sounds like heaven

    • Anne McKinnell says

      Hi Larry, thanks for your visit and comments. I have to admit, I am living the dream right now. I just hope I can find a way to sustain it before the year is up so we can keep doing it. It’s pretty hard to make a living in photography, but hopefully I can make a go of it or supplement it with something related. I am surprised how many people are doing the full-time RV thing. I found out there are over 1 million people travelling full time in an RV in North America. I hope you find a way to do it if that is what you want to do. I decided it was worth the risk because the risk of never doing it seemed bigger.

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