Located in the heart of Yomitan Okinawa is Zakimi Castle. In celebration of Yomitan becoming the largest village in Japan, the castle is illuminated. It is not typically illuminated and the lights shine from 1800-2100 every day until 13-Mar-2014. It is unclear if this practice will continue annually or on other special occasions. Built in the 1400’s, all that remains today are some of the stone walls. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.
We began the workshop discussing basic photographic principles to help people breakout of automatic mode. For the advanced topic, we explored the benefits of long exposure (LE) photography. Consider using LE photography for blurring running water, smoothing ripples on water, capturing a streaming cloud effect, or in low light situations and illuminated buildings. For this workshop, we used LE to capture the illumination of the Zakimi Castle walls.
The equipment needed for LE is a tripod, remote trigger, neutral density (ND) filter of 10 stops (only for mid-day LE), and the eyepiece cap. The eyepiece cap will prevent light entering into the camera through the eyepiece if you are not blocking the light by looking through the eyepeice. The eyepiece cap is generally not critical if using liveview.
Typical settings for LE are ISO 100 to reduce noise as much as possible. Small aperture of f/11-f/16 to have a large depth of field and reduce light entering the camera to allow increased shutter times. Setting the camera in shutter priority (Nikon “S”, Canon “Tv”, Sony “S”) will allow one to shoot up to 30 sec exposures for most cameras. To go beyond 30 sec is done using manual mode and setting the shutter speed to “bulb”. The remote trigger then controls the length of exposure. The simplest of remote triggers just activates the shutter and it is up to you to keep track how long the shutter is open for exposure. The basic one button and infrared remote triggers fall into this category. The more sophisticated remote triggers allow one to set the shutter time, number of images and interval time between successive images.
One of the concerns in low light long exposure photography is focusing. Autofocus will typically not be able to lock accurately onto any object. Thankfully, there are some strategies to overcome this limitation. One is to arrive while the sun is shining brightly enough, compose the image, focus, and then switch the camera to manual focus. Do not touch anything and wait for the sun to go down before shooting. This is time consuming and not very helpful if one is trying to get different images or shooting before sunrise. Another option is to use a very bright flashlight and illuminate the object one wants in sharp focus while the autofocus does its job. Switch to manual focus, so the focus will not change, turn the flashlight off and shoot. For the Zakimi Castle pictures, I focused on the lights or right by the lights that are illuminating the Castle. One can also use manual focus and set it at infinity. Be careful when doing this since some lenses will focus past infinity, so make sure to use the line markings on then barrel of lens. The other reason for using a smaller aperture is to have a large depth of field so that focusing issues may not be as apparent in the final image.
Many thanks to everyone that came out for this workshop. As always, if you would like to include your images on this page, please send them in. To see some daylight images of Zakimi Castle, check out the post from an earlier workshop.
Directions: Leave Kadena gate 3 and turn Left onto Rt 74. Drive 2.2Km and turn Right onto Rt16. Drive 2.1Km and turn Right onto Rt58. Drive 3.3Km and turn Left onto Rt 12. Drive 1.7Km and turn Right following signs for Zakimi Castle. Drive about 270m and turn Right following signs for Zakimi Castle and Art Museum. Follow the winding road for about 400m until you come to the parking lot.
Here is a map
Article by: David P. Lee
Camera: Nikon D7000
Lenses: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM
Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR II
Tripod: Manfrotto 190XPROB with Acratech Ultimate Ballhead
Software: Lightroom 5.3