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Photographing the Giant’s Causeway

By February 8, 2018 Photography No Comments

These are the unmistakable interlocking basalt columns of The Giant’s Causeway in Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Giant's Causeway

The trip here was well worth it, with the world-famous location delivering the much hoped-for spectacular views.

It’s easy to imagine that being so famous, the Giant’s Causeway would be crawling with tourists, even at 09:00 on a Monday. It wasn’t, and as it happened several long-exposure photographers were already packing up. These photographers had arrived prior to sunrise when the light was even dimmer, allowing them to deploy exposures of several minutes. For their efforts, it was already game over by 09:00. But between their departure and the arrival of general tourists, the site was deserted.

By this point, even with the darkest neutral density filters, exposures would be less than a minute in the conditions, but still relatively long.

This photo was taken with a Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 10-24mm zoom set to 15mm for a 22mm equivalent field of view. The shot was composed to include details of the columns in the foreground and the sideways position adjusted so a natural sweep guided the eye to the small peak in the distance. With a base sensitivity of ISO 200 and the aperture closed down to ƒ/9, the camera metered an exposure of around 1/30 second. Slotting a ten-stop Lee Big Stopper ND filter over the lens soaked up enough light to extend this to around 25 seconds, allowing the lapping tide to blur into a mysterious steam-like effect. A hard graduated filter was thrown into the mix to darken the sky.


While in this instance there weren’t too many crowds of tourists at The Giant’s Causeway, there are other situations where it’s impossible not to include them. Sometimes it’s actually fun to feature the human impact on a scene, but if you’d like to minimise their appearance in camera, simply fit a strong neutral density filter for a long exposure. Anything that moves will become blurred and less visible. Someone walking past may even become almost invisible in some situations. At worst, the ghostlike trails of people moving around can provide an ethereal alternative to a shot packed with static humans.

EXIF data

  • Fujifilm X-T1
  • Fujinon XF 10–24mm ƒ/4
  • 15mm (22mm equivalent)
  • ƒ/9
  • 25 seconds
  • 0 EV
  • ISO 200
  • Provia

In Camera is Gordon Laing’s guide to making the most out of your digital camera, and never feeling as if technology has left you behind. In Camera will teach you the skills to push your camera to the limit and capture the perfect shot, under all conditions, with no post-processing required.

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