Long(er) cruise exposures

I thought you might be interested in a photo technique that I used on our recent cruise. Here’s an example image:

Journey's End

Journey’s End. (eq. FOV: 26mm, f/4.5, .8 sec @ ISO 1250)

In low light situations, I wanted the ship sharp in the foreground, and nearby water showing motion blur. I also wanted features on the horizon to be sharp (with no motion blur).

You can see the settings I used in the captions. The secret is to use a wide-angle lens, and keep your shutter speed fast enough so that the ship’s motion doesn’t result in blurred features on the horizon, but long enough so that the close by water shows some motion blur. For this image, a little less than a second worked out. Here’s another example (that was in last week’s blog too):

Approaching the Cayman Islands

Approaching the Cayman Islands. (eq. FOV: 26mm, f/4, 2 sec @ ISO 200)

Here are the steps to try this yourself:

  • Go on a cruise!
  • Choose an aperture that gives you the depth of field you want (e.g. sharp focus from foreground to horizon).  My Olympus 12-100 f/4 lens is sharp and has sufficient depth of field used wide open.
  • Choose an ISO value that results in the shutter speed you want (between 1/2 and 2 seconds).  With my micro 4/3 cameras, I’m conservative with ISO, but I’ll use up to 3200 if pressed – even for landscape shots.
  • Use your camera’s built-in image stabilization (or mount your camera on a tripod) to stabilize it on the ship.  Since my setup has the Olympus dual-IS capability, I didn’t use a tripod.  Instead, I braced myself against the ship and  hand-held these.
  • Make several exposures and check for sharpness. Since the ship is moving relative to the horizon, this setup is different from a normal dry-land photo.  To keep the horizon sharp, you’ll have to either time the ship’s motion and expose when it’s minimized (difficult), or make multiple frames and pick ones where the horizon features are sharp (easier).  I was able to get sharp images with exposures as long as 2 seconds, but I made multiple frames for insurance.

Here’s one more photo.  The light was brighter in this one, so I couldn’t get much blur in the water:

Dusk at seaDusk at sea. (eq. FOV: 24mm, f/4, 1/40sec @ ISO 200)

So that’s it.  A fun technique that will give you some nice “cruisey” images.  If you try this, let me know how it works for you.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

2 thoughts on “Long(er) cruise exposures

  1. Playing catch-up. Really enjoyed all of your posts over the past several weeks. Looks like you have had some wonderful travel adventures!

    Thank you for sharing your longer exposure technique. I’ll be looking for opportunities to use it. Gorgeous images!

    Hope your holiday season is peaceful and we wish you a Happy New Year!

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