My passion for long exposures

Hello! I’m Nijinsky Lacsamana, an engineering student and a photography hobbyist from the picturesque province of Ilocos, Philippines. My interest in photography started back in high school when I took snapshots of my surrounding to keep a “memory” of the beautiful scene as the lighting, clouds and other conditions may not happen again.

Olympus E-PL1 . Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mmF3.5-6.3 @12mm . f/8 . 1.0″ . ISO 200

My love in photography grew when my friend let me use his Nikon D3100. Eventually, I started to look for a camera that I could call my own. I browsed the internet, read many articles and forums and finally decided that a mirrorless with micro four thirds sensor is the perfect system for me. Its lightweight system matches my minimalistic personality.

Olympus E-PL1 . Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mmF3.5-6.3 @12mm . f/4.0 . 0.5″ . ISO 200

It was in April 2017 when I found a used Olympus Pen E-PL1 online. I bought it and immediately fell in love with its simple design, image quality, and portability. Olympus Pen E-PL1 is so light and small that I took it wherever I went taking photos of almost anything from people to landscapes, events and even food.

I joined a local Facebook group of Olympus photographers and made some friends. They became my first advisers and critiques. I bought a telephoto lens- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 as my go-to lens.

Following what my heart truly wants, as I remember why I really started photography to capture great sceneries. I started to focus on Landscape photography. I bought a cheap Polaroid tripod and a prime lens – Sigma 30mm f2.8. I watched Youtube videos about taking good landscape shots and post-processing landscapes.

I got myself a Hoya 52mm ND400 filter as I planned to use it on Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-5.3 EZ that I will buy after selling my Sigma 30mm f2.8. Surprisingly, it fits the Sigma when reverse mounted and fixed in to place with masking tape.

My style is to capture sceneries with great colors and long exposure. I love long exposures as it invokes peace and serenity – the feeling I felt while shooting. Long exposure shots are unique; the image captured by the camera rarely matches what can be seen by our eyes. I usually ride my bike before sunset to nearby beaches and arrive there before sunset.

Enjoying the sunset while scouting for a good composition then setting up my tripod to shoot after the sun has set. I love the light after sunset; it has a good mix of blue, orange and sometimes pink.

Olympus E-PL1 . Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mmF3.5-6.3 @25mm . f/8 . 20″ . ISO 200
Olympus E-PL1 . Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mmF3.5-6.3 @12mm . f/8 . 8.0″ . ISO 200

The lightweight and small size of E-PL1 has proved its importance during my trip to Baguio City; a beautiful and cool place 7-hour bus ride from home, a landscape photographer’s heaven. It allowed me to walk for hours, enjoying and taking photos without carrying heavy equipment like other photographers who use full-frame or DSLRs.

Olympus E-PL1 . Sigma 30mmF2.8 @30mm . f/8 . 60″ . ISO 200

The shooting process of long exposure starts by putting my ND filter and selecting the right combination of aperture, shutter speed and the lowest ISO possible. I shoot raw to take full advantage of the data captured by the sensor. The Anti-Shock shutter mode helps a lot to capture blur-free images. Manual focus magnification assist made focusing a lot easier.

The limited dynamic range of micro four thirds never became an issue to me when capturing landscape shots as I usually take several shots of different exposure then process it as HDR or blend it manually in post. I take several photos of different composition to have plenty of choices in post-processing but I only choose to upload the best shot.

Olympus E-PL1 . Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mmF3.5-6.3 @13mm . f/4.0 . 2.0″ . ISO 500

My software of choice in post-processing is Adobe Photoshop with plugins like Nik Collection. I first process in Adobe Camera Raw, adjusting the basics and pulling down the highlights and white balance adjustments then load it into Photoshop where fine tuning like subtle dodging and burning is done. I send it back to ACR where I will add radial or graduated filter. Finally, I use Dfine 2 plugin to reduce noise on my image.

Olympus E-PL1 . Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mmF3.5-6.3 @12mm . f/8 . 45″ . ISO 200

In April 2019, I thought of upgrading my Pen E-PL1 to an OMD E-M5II. I sold my E-PL1 to a friend who was inspired to take the same hobby as me. The image quality and ISO performance of the OMD E-M5II are light-years ahead of the E-PL1. Combine this with the 5-axis in-body image stabilization, I was able to take sharp photos at night for as long as 5 seconds at 12mm hand-held!

I absolutely love the Live Composite and Live Bulb for my long exposure work. Star trails can be done without the need for stacking with a software. With my Samyang 12mm f2.0 lens, I went back to Baguio City and captured the Milky Way as a panorama for the first time.

With my new weather-sealed photographic partner, I plan to pursue night long exposures and Astro-landscapes and shooting in bad weather. I dream of someday that I will go to far-flung places and show the beauty of the place that otherwise will not be seen by other people. I hope that people who look at my photos will feel the same happiness and serenity that I felt when I took them.

Olympus E-PL1 . Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mmF3.5-6.3 @12mm . f/8 . 1/30″ . ISO 200

"Hello! I’m Nijinsky Lacsamana, an engineering student and a photography hobbyist from the picturesque province of Ilocos, Philippines. My interest in photography started back in high school when I took snapshots of my surrounding to keep a “memory” of the beautiful scene as the lighting, clouds and other conditions may not happen again."

1 Comment

  1. Lovely work and a great story. I’m in full agreement about the weight issue – I went from a full frame canon to a M10 mk 2 as my landscape camera and my back thanks me after every trip out!

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