Recently I took a photo walk with some local photographers to capture the Fall colors in a local park. We were scheduled to meet at 7AM. I was a little puzzled by the time. The sunrise time was supposed to be around 8:15AM. What were we going to do in the darkness?

It turned out that some of them wanted to take long exposure photos of night skies. Unfortunately the sky was covered by a thick cloud. So some of us started to shoot across a pond with camera mounted on tripod.

The following is the one of the photos I took with camera set to IS0 100, f/6.3, auto WB. The exposure was determined by trial and error in bulb mode. It turned out to be 45 seconds.


The photo has a blue tint in it. It is certainly not strange considering the light source at that time: the sky. Even with a cloud cover, more blue light came through. To make this dull photo a little more pleasing, some type of color correction, or white balance adjustment can certainly help.

Unless I had shot a grey card around the time I took the photo, there isn’t a good way of obtaining accurate white balance. However white balance accuracy is not typically critical for landscape photos. So I simply adjusted the white balance by sampling the rock in the photo (using White Balance Selector tool in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom). The software automatically adjusted the whole photo by making the rock appear neutral gray. The following is the result.


What could be done if the rock (or other item with gray color) wasn’t there? The photo editing software may have some built-in white balance presets such as cloudy, shade, sunlight, etc. It may also have a color temperature slider. All you have to do is play with the available adjustments and find the result that you like the most.

To some, the second photo above may look more boring than the first. If I haven’t told you, it may not be possible to tell that photo was taken using long exposure technique in the cold dark morning. The first one seems to carry some more hints of the environment.

Posted in: Tips and Techniques on November 7th, 2011. Trackback URI
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