Knockin’ Down the Shutter Speed

It is Thursday morning. 6:55 am. Normally, I am heading downstairs about now to make my lunch and eat breakfast. Instead, I am sitting in a dark van with five coworkers, headed to Seattle for a conference. Did I mention the traffic? It sucks. Sucks bad. Sigh.

I thought I’d use this opportunity to catch up with you as I have been a bit remiss this week. It’s a busy time of year with Christmas coming. I’ve been spending my evenings decorating the house, making Christmas ornaments and trying to also occasionally get to the gym because it’s only December 3rd and my pants are a bit snug.  That sucks worse than the traffic.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,
ISO 100, SS 1/0.6, f/32, 75mm

Christmas could easily be a full time job for me, so it’s problematic that I actually have a full time job. And, this is the first December I’ve had this blog. Finding balance is feeling difficult.

I’ve also noticed that, for me, winter time blogging is more difficult than summer and fall, when we spend more time outside and I have adventures to share. Winter is quieter (and wetter), leaving me feeling like I’m sometimes struggling to find things of interest to blog about.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,
ISO 100, SS 1/0.6, f/32, 168mm


That’s part of the reason I’ve introduced Wordless Wednesday. I’m struggling with content, and sometimes a picture says a thousand words…so, why not?

But, the purpose of this blog is not to tell you about my blogger’s block, but to tell you about these pictures, which I’ve been promising you since Sunday.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,

Last weekend the husband and I were on the Oregon coast visiting my family for Thanksgiving. The weather, while cold, was glorious. Blue sky, no wind (no wind! On the OR coast!). So, on Saturday I took the husband to Cape Perpetua, which is south of Yachats and north of Florence.

Cape Perpetua was named by Captain Cook in 1778 as he searched for the Pacific entrance to a Northwest Passage.  In 1933 a Civilian Convervation Corps camp was built at the foot of the cape, near where the present day visitor’s center sits.  The CCC built the Cape Perpetua campground, a series of trails and the West Shelter observation point at the top of the cape.  Yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday was looking through that shelter. During WWII that shelter was used as a coastal watch station and a coastal gun defense was temporarily installed.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,

Today the Cape Perpetua scenic area, part of the Siuslaw National Forest, includes 2700 acres of spruce, douglas fir and western hemlock.  It’s a stunning area…as is most of the Oregon Coast.

My goal for the day? Try my hand at slow shutter speed using the ocean as my muse. Very slow shutter speed with water results in that super-silky look. You’ve most likely seen this most often in waterfall photos.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,

We stopped first at Devils Churn. I have to admit, I felt pretty cool setting up my tripod and attaching the camera with the 70-200 mm lens.

The Churn was still shaded, which made dropping the shutter speed easier than in bright sun (as I would discover a bit later), but I couldn’t get it quite as low as I wanted. Still, I was pleased with the results, particularly since it was my first attempt.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,

We packed it in and headed to high ground. The husband proclaimed himself my “caddy” as he swung the tripod over his shoulder.

We drove to the top of the Cape, which provides breathtaking views of the coastline. We wandered around on a couple of short trails up there, stopping a number of times to drink in the view (our mouths may have been hanging open a bit).

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,

Then we dropped back down to sea level and headed along the shore to Spouting Horn, a blow hole putting on a decent show as we hit it at almost high tide.

I set up shop amidst quite a few people who had also been drawn out by the sun. And cringed at the idiots down on the rocks below. Many were close to edges as waves crashed in. Even worse, there were a couple of guys on the rocks in the surf with tripods and cameras. I kid you not. At one point one of them was free holding his camera and a wave took his tripod (the husband reported that he did manage to get it back). He’s lucky the wave didn’t take him. And I found the apparent disregard for expensive equipment to be shameful.  I told the husband to stop watching so that we wouldn’t be witnesses if someone got swept out to sea.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,

As a coastal kid it amazes me the lack of respect people have for the ocean. Standing on rocks in incoming or outgoing tide, standing on logs, turning their backs…I’ve seen it all. And then they’re shocked when tragedy strikes.

Tip: don’t be stupid, people! The ocean will think nothing of killing you. Respect it.

I feel better.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,
ISO 125, SS 1/20, f/32, 70mm

I did find shutter speed challenging in the bright light. I had the ISO bottomed out and the aperture as high as it will go (32) and couldn’t get much lower than 1/20.  Unless I’m missing something, I suspect that I’ll have the best luck on overcast days or in shaded locations. Feel free to chime in or correct me if I’m wrong.

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,
ISO 100, 1/0.8, f/32, 70mm

We lingered on the shore for some time, then the caddy tossed the tripod over his shoulder and we headed back to the car. It was a gorgeous day, I fell a little deeper in love with my tripod and the husband got to stare deep into the waves for an extended period of time (one of his favorite activities).

Knockin' Down the Shutter Speed,

18 thoughts on “Knockin’ Down the Shutter Speed

    1. Thanks, Gretchen! The second one is my favorite, too. I captured the “silky” look. Yes, you need to get to the OR coast. The only part of the WA coast that rivals it is the Northwest corner.


  1. Lovely shots! I’ve only been to the Oregon coast once, many years ago, but I remember how beautiful it was.

    Neutral density filters help get your shutter speeds down for long exposures in bright light. 🙂


    1. Karen, doing some research on ND filters and finding myself confused. Well, not so much confused as a little overwhelmed. Hoping you’d be willing to give some input. I understand that I have two choices: screw in or slot in. For both I can buy adaptor and/or set up rings so that they’ll fit my lenses. I’m leaning towards screw in as that seems a good (not ridiculously priced) place to start. I’m still learning, after all. B + W seems a good brand. I have two lenses: 50 mm and 70/200 mm, both Canon. So, it sounds like I would be looking at a 72 mm filter. But, now the two million dollar question: how many stops? 6, 8 or 10? Here’s where I’m looking so you can follow:

      The husband is asking for my Christmas list. Since he’s made it clear that Santa is not bringing me the Sigma 24mm Art lens that I’m looking at I might as well toss a filter on there. 🙂


      1. I use screw-in Hoya filters and they’ve been fine. I think B+W are better quality and a good choice. I have 3, 6, and 9 stop filters and I use the 6-stop the most. I don’t use the 3-stop much at all. A 9 or 10 stop is very dark and is great if you want really long exposures, useful for example if you want the glassy smooth water look.

        This shot was taken with my 6-stop filter with an exposure time of .5 seconds:

        This shot was taken with my 9-stop filter with an exposure time of 20 seconds:

        Maybe your husband will get you both since the Sigma lens is off the table. 🙂


      2. Thanks, Karen. Both pictures are beautiful and are what I’m envisioning with the HD filter. I found a chart that informed me that a 67mm is the size I need. However, I’m very confused about the step-up rings. Obviously, the rings are different sizes than the lenses that I have…and I can’t figure out which sizes I would use. Why so complicated? 🙂


      3. Do you know what filter sizes they take? You said you need a 67mm ND filter, so I’m assuming one has a 67mm filter size, but what’s the other one?


      4. I found an online chart that told me to choose the filter that fits my largest lens (70-200), which is the 67mm and then to purchase a step up ring so that the same filter will fit my 50mm lens.


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