Fun with long exposure

September 6, 2018 at 21:17 | Posted in How-to | Leave a comment
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This is not really a how-to guide, but I thought I’d share some tricks I have for gunpla photography. If you’ve read my “How to photograph GUNPLA” post, you might notice I tend to shoot with long exposure times.
It depends on the lighting conditions, but with my camera set at ISO 200 and f8-f11 aperture, I can get shutter speeds of 1-2 seconds. That leaves plenty of time to play around with these things:

i) Muzzle flash effect parts

As the name implies, they simulate muzzle flash as the bullet leaves the barrel. I’m using the ones by Kotobukiya MSG. You can stick it at the end of the gun’s barrel and and it’ll look fine.

Or you can try this:
Once the camera shutter is pressed, move the effect part in front of the gun barrel and move it around a bit. The camera will capture that movement and it will appear as a blurred muzzle flash, instead of a well defined one.
The longer the exposure time and the more you move, the more blurred the effect will be. Here are a couple of examples:

A few things to note:
Since you’re moving the effect part with your fingers, you wouldn’t want them included in the final photo. That’s why framing is important. This technique works best when the gun barrel is pointed towards the edge of the photo, where your fingers won’t be visible.


ii) Laser pointer
A well positioned laser beam can leave a nice effect. Below are some examples of where to aim the laser pointer:
i) At the point of impact. For example, between the beam sabre and the Juaggu’s arm:

ii) On the surface of a wide spread beam weapon, like this beam axe:

iii) The space between the beam sabre holder and the hilt. This implies that the beam sabre is about to the activated:

iv) Directly toward the beam sabre hilt, with the beam sabre effect attached. This requires a bit of precision.

This effect is more dramatic in darker lighting conditions, and with a black background paper:

compared to a well-lit room with white background paper:


To summarize, here are the steps I took to achieve these effects:

  1. Put a camera with manual controls (PASM modes) on a sturdy tripod
  2. Set to Aperture mode (f8 to f11), ISO 200, 2-second timer for shutter release. Check if shutter speed is around 1-2 seconds. If not, dim the lights or adjust aperture to >f11. Alternatively, set to Shutter priority mode and adjust shutter speed to 1-2 seconds, keeping the ISO to 200.
  3. Get the effect ready (muzzle effect or laser pointer) and press shutter
  4. Very quickly, position the muzzle effect or laser beam to the point of interest and keep it there until exposure ends.
  5. Review photo and if unsatisfactory, repeat the above steps.

So that’s it, play around, and maybe you can find some other neat stuff you can do during the long exposure.

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