Tip: How to mix long exposure with rocking boats?

I got a question about this photo. How did I make the boats sharp, surely they must have been rocking slightly? They did. Long exposure photography can be used to smooth out water, and give some really good effects, with reflections or get ‘smokey’ water. In this photo the water is part of the atmosphere and I did fairly long exposures (it’s an HDR of 5 shots).

Harbour Bridge Roskilde

There were small ripples on the water and they disappeared in the long exposure, and the boats did rock a little bit. To freeze the boats I shot another set of HDR photos with ISO 3200, which resulted in much faster shutter speeds. I then blended the boats from the high ISO shot, with my HDR photo of the water and surroundings. This made the boats sharp and the water flat. I had to do some noise reduction, because a 3200 ISO photo does have some noise.

To get the most of this tip, you have to figure out, what the ISO limits are for your DSLR. If you are shooting with a APS-C sensor it is must probably ISO 800, while if you shoot full frame, it will be ISO 1600 or ISO 3200, depending on your particular camera’s low light performance.

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