Today I’m talking about a few silly mistakes I’ve made while shooting at blue hour so that you’ll be alert of these potential dangers.
Lost Filter by Dropping into Lagoon
This happened at Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei. This picturesque mosque is built in an artificial lagoon surrounded by tall fence, so I always keep my tripod low and put a lens through fence bars rather than fully extending the tripod legs and even center column to go above the fence.
I put my hand through the gap of fence bars, trying to rotate the front element of CP filter, but what I actually did was screwing the entire filter off my lens and accidentally dropping it into the lagoon…
An accident happened when I was shooting with a circular polarizing (CP) filter attached at dusk (note that I wasn’t introduced to neutral density [ND] filters back then and shooting with CP filter which also blocks 1.5 stop of light). When I thought I was rotating the front element of the CP filter, I was actually screwing the entire filter off my lens… It inevitably slipped off my hand and dropped into the lagoon.
Be extra careful when rotating filters through the gap of fence bars.
Overexposed by Mistaking 6 Stop ND Filter for 10 Stop ND Filter
This is a recent incident. I was at Bay East (Singapore), trying to shoot a pre-dusk long exposure using 10 stop ND filter. My expectation was high cos the sky had nice scattering clouds, which is a perfect recipe for pre-dusk long exposure.
I shot with 256 seconds of exposure (a base shutter speed of 1/4 second) and waited for another 256 seconds for Long exposure NR (noise reduction) processing, then… LCD monitor showing a completely overexposed, washed out image.
Double-check the density of ND filter before attaching to a lens in order to prevent over- or under-exposure.
I wondered what I did wrong, then soon realized that I had mistakenly used 6 stop ND filter because 10 and 6 stop filters looked very similar under the fading twilight sky. By then, it was too late and too dark to shoot another pre-dusk long exposure photo, as I wasted more than 8 minutes altogether. During the fast-darkening blue hour, losing 8 minutes can completely derail the entire plan…
Double-check the density of ND filter before attaching to a lens.
Lost Lens Cap in the Darkness
This also happened locally at Bay East. I was shooting at the bank of the river by placing all my accessories (filters, lens cap, wireless remote, etc.) on the grassy ground. As you know, around sunset time is still bright enough, but it gets increasingly darker with every minute passing by towards the end of dusk.
It’s just not a good habit to leave camera accessories on the ground. It’s hard to spot once dusk falls.
After dusk, I was packing up my gear, then suddenly realized that my lens cap was missing. Although I searched around a lot using a flash light of my phone, I just couldn’t locate it. I wonder why lens caps (and camera gear in general) are always in black colour. It’s a lot harder to spot in the darkness!
Don’t leave accessories on the ground. Put in a camera bag or in a pocket and zip properly.
After all, these are careless mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Hope you won’t be making the same mistakes as I did cos losing the CP filter in particular was literally a “costly” mistake!