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I'm here in North Beach in San Francisco. I'm standing here in front of the Transamerica building, a very famous iconic San Francisco landmark. What you may not be as familiar with is the original Transamerica Corporate offices. That's this green copper building that's right in front of me. Beautiful building, it was the Transamerica head office for a long time. And then Francis Ford Coppola bought it and started to use it as his corporate office for his Zoetrope Studios, then he got into making food and wine, and that's what this cafe is here at the bottom. So I want to get a shot of both of these.
So I've lined up my camera, I've taken a picture, and this is what I get. I like it except for the cars. If the traffic has stopped, there are just a bunch of cars in front of the cafe. I can't really see it. If the traffic is moving then there is a car right in front of my camera. It's a really dynamic scene here, and I'd like to get more of a sense of the traffic moving and not have it blocking the building so much, and I can do that with Neutral Density filters. With Neutral Density filters, I can slow my shutter speed down so much that I can actually just get the cars blurring. So what I've done here is put a stack of a few ND filters, including my Variable ND filter on the front of a camera.
Because of my Variable ND filter, I'm not getting accurate metering through the camera, so I've put it into manual mode, and I'm simply--I've done some experiments. I'm shooting shots at a very slow speed like 6 or 10 seconds and then reviewing the results on the back of the screen. What I finally decided that I need a shot that's 20 seconds long, I've got my Aperture set to f/8, so I've got a nice deep aperture. What I'm going to do now is wait for the light to change so that these cars over in this half start moving, and I'm hoping that they're going to just be blurred out as they go by. And the light should be changing any second.
Hopefully, we're not going to see pedestrians get run over. Well, actually we've got to wait now. A couple of things to bear in mind when you're doing this, you've got to be locked down on a tripod because you're using a very, very long exposure. If you're using the Variable ND filter, you may, depending on the quality of your filter, have to be very careful about how much Variable ND you dial in, because what I've been finding is as I dial in more I get very strong color change across my image. Here goes the traffic, starting the shot. Again, I'm doing a 20 second exposure. I'm just going to wait for the traffic to go through.
I'm being very careful not to bump my tripod. So I have done some experimenting with the Variable ND to making sure I am getting a clean filtering and the shot is going through. Looks like we've got just a few seconds left. Hopefully, the traffic will keep moving. And hopefully, a really tall bus isn't going to come along. Okay, that's done. And here's what I get. I like this shot. I like the dynamic cars moving by. It definitely is giving me a clearer view of the building, but it's also giving me some of that downtown excitement that's going on right here.
Unfortunately, some fog has blown in. I like how the fog is smearing, but it's completely overexposed. Fortunately, I have a fix for that. I have a Graduated ND filter. So I put that on my camera. I'm going to take another shot. I've had to lengthen my exposure time, and I'm off. The traffic is just started moving. So what I've got here is I have a +8 and a +4 filter, a Graduated ND filter, and a Variable ND filter. I'm cutting out a tremendous amount of light on this shot. That's how I'm able to get such a long exposure. I'm here--my watch is gone.
I'm here at about noon. It's very, very bright out here and here's what I get. So this is working and just fine. I've restored the exposure to the clouds. I'm not seeing a visible change in brightness from top to bottom. That's something you need to be careful with that Graduated ND filter, that you're not actually seeing the ramping off. So here I have managed to completely change the exposure of this scene. I've gotten it much darker so that I can use a longer exposure time to blur out the traffic. I've used a Graduated ND filter so I can have a separate exposure between the top and bottom of the frame, and I've gotten a shot that would be absolutely impossible without these filters.
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