Vandenberg AFB, California, USA by Darren Whiteley

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Picture Story

I am lucky enough to have access to miles of amazing coastline on Vandenberg Air Force Base and given the nature of the location you are often the only person out with a camera. This was captured after one of our regular trips to the beach to walk the dog and try to burn the energy out of my son. The light didn’t promise much but I had all of my Lee filters with me so I thought it may be worth a go at a long exposure - there was occasion slices of colour breaking through otherwise moody clouds and I felt a long exposure might help make the most of the colours available.

Because we were rapidly approaching sunset and I was using a 10-stop filter at a reasonable stepped down f-stop I calculated the exposure would need to be around 7 minutes. Once I started the exposure I sat back to enjoy the scene and was pleased to see more and more breaks in the cloud, with the occasional burst of pink or blue, and to see that the movement of the clouds themselves was noticeable. However, I also noticed the overall scene was darkening quickly so decided to add an extra minute or so to the exposure to make sure the shadows in the cliff face weren’t too dark. After at least two more ‘just 5 more seconds’ I eventually close the shutter and hoped I hadn’t quit too soon. Despite doing a lot of long exposure and having a reasonable feel for what the outcome will be, I find there is nothing in landscape photography to match the excitement, and relief, of seeing a many-minute exposure appear on the back of the screen.


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