How can I create photographs with the characteristics of this image?

enter image description here

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ What 'effect' in the image are you specifically looking to replicate? What qualities? \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Apr 17, 2012 at 15:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ the whole look of it really. The black sky and then the white middle with the grey water. To get the water so smoooth, do I use a long exposure? \$\endgroup\$
    – heyred
    Apr 17, 2012 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking to do it in camera, in post, or whatever works? \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Apr 17, 2012 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Rohan Reilly does photography in this style, and often includes technical information on Flickr, e.g. flickr.com/photos/selectah/6452702353/in/set-72157626836720907 He uses a strong neutral density filter (mentioned in other photos) to achieve the 1-2 minute exposure times. \$\endgroup\$
    – coneslayer
    Apr 17, 2012 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


There are several effects going on here.

  • The water effect must be done in camera, with a very long exposure. Probably during dusk or at night otherwise you'll have too much light, even with a strong ND filter.

  • The black and white conversion can be done in camera if shooting JPEG but is better done in post.

  • The gradient in the sky is either done with a coloured filter (e.g. red or organge), a graduated ND, or in post. It could also just be atmospheric conditions.

  • Soft lighting comes from an overcast sky.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The dark sky could also be an effect of shooting in infrared. The sky looks dark in IR, with a gradient like that at the horizons, as the thickness of the atmosphere begins to overwhelm the sky. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fake Name
    Apr 17, 2012 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any reason you couldn't stack neutral density filters to extend exposure times arbitrarily long? Also, would multiple filters even be strictly needed? For visual observation of the Sun through a telescope/binoculars you can get filters that reduce brightness by 100,000x. I'd think that would be sufficient to allow multi-second daylight exposures without doing anything else. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17, 2012 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dan stacking ND filters eventually causes colour shifts and loss of sharpness, and vignetting on full frame. I would question the affect on image quality of shooting through a filter designed for viewing the sun. To get the sea that flat you need to expose for about 15 minutes, not a few seconds! I've seen a few shots like this and they were all done at night. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Apr 18, 2012 at 7:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MattGrum Baaders AstroSolar filter material is supposed to have a neutral color balance (other common filter types do have major color balance shifts); but a quick search didn't turn up any numbers for how strict their definition of neutral is. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2012 at 15:45

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