Terra Galleria Photography

Mid-day long exposures with the Big Stopper: seascapes, Kauai


Even more so than for landscapes, many photographers prefer to shoot seascapes at sunrise and sunset. I see two main reasons: to get more color (enhanced by the open horizon and water reflections) and to capture water motion through a longer exposure. Thinking about it, I saw no reason a beautifully flowing seascape could not be photographed at mid-day: the color of tropical water is often best revealed by a high sun, while to obtain a longer exposure is just a matter of using a sufficiently dark filter.

During my week on Kauai Island, since this was a family vacation, I often found myself on the beach at mid-day, close to Kilauea, since we were staying nearby. The second image is the site of Patrick Smith acclaimed Maestrom series. In those images, huge waves wash over the lava bench and drain back into the blowhole, but when I was there, the bench was never even close to getting wet. On those occasions, while the kids were playing around, I tried to put my theory to test, by (quickly) making long exposure images with a 10-fstop filter.

Do you think those mid-day seascapes work ?


  1. Russ Bishop says:

    They look great QT – amazing what you can do with the Vari-ND isn’t it?

  2. QT Luong says:

    Thanks Russ. Actually, I used the Lee big stopper, which is darker. I prefer square filters.

  3. Frank Field says:

    QT — They work surprisingly well. The water’s edge tends not to be terribly contrasty surely is a major enabler. The only thing that’s a bit bothersome in two of the images is cloud movement. And they do tend to move faster mid-day, both in terms of vertical development and lateral motion. Thanks for sharing your insight. Frank

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