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Thread: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

  1. #1
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    Default Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Some silly thought hit me on the head again, so I thought to pose a question here to see if there are any answers around:

    For very long exposure photography such as star trials or techniques that involve painting with light, Bulb setting is often necessary, but a cable release or remote is often recommended to trigger the shutter release and subsequently close the shutter when the exposure is over. But what if we have neither of these accessories?

    As an example, I switch the camera to self-timer mode and let this trigger the shutter release for a bulb exposure. Then, to finish the exposure, would it be possible for me to cover the lens opening very carefully with a black card, before stopping the exposure by pressing the shutter release button, without causing camera shake in the final image?

    Any thoughts are appreciated. If this is not going to work, then I might consider finding a cable release.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    That method of cover and close will work fine, I used to do that for fireworks when I was shooting with film.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by fWord
    Some silly thought hit me on the head again, so I thought to pose a question here to see if there are any answers around:

    For very long exposure photography such as star trials or techniques that involve painting with light, Bulb setting is often necessary, but a cable release or remote is often recommended to trigger the shutter release and subsequently close the shutter when the exposure is over. But what if we have neither of these accessories?

    As an example, I switch the camera to self-timer mode and let this trigger the shutter release for a bulb exposure. Then, to finish the exposure, would it be possible for me to cover the lens opening very carefully with a black card, before stopping the exposure by pressing the shutter release button, without causing camera shake in the final image?

    Any thoughts are appreciated. If this is not going to work, then I might consider finding a cable release.
    Best is to buy one.

    In fact, for prime astrophotography using telescopes, it is quite normal to use a black cardboard over the telescope first, for releasing and closing the shutter because the shutter (and mirror) vibration is significant. The cardboard does not touch the setup at all. This is only possible if you have a dark environment where the cardboard cannot be seen and when you're doing very long exposure where a couple of seconds of exposure do not make much of a difference.

    Some cameras cannot hold the shutter open with "bulb" when using the self timer.
    Last edited by lsisaxon; 13th March 2006 at 06:07 PM.

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    I'm using a cable release.
    Last edited by Snoweagle; 13th March 2006 at 06:07 PM.
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by fWord
    Some silly thought hit me on the head again, so I thought to pose a question here to see if there are any answers around:

    For very long exposure photography such as star trials or techniques that involve painting with light, Bulb setting is often necessary, but a cable release or remote is often recommended to trigger the shutter release and subsequently close the shutter when the exposure is over. But what if we have neither of these accessories?

    As an example, I switch the camera to self-timer mode and let this trigger the shutter release for a bulb exposure. Then, to finish the exposure, would it be possible for me to cover the lens opening very carefully with a black card, before stopping the exposure by pressing the shutter release button, without causing camera shake in the final image?

    Any thoughts are appreciated. If this is not going to work, then I might consider finding a cable release.
    if you open the shutter for 30mins exposure, you move your camera for second will make no effect on the image.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights
    if you open the shutter for 30mins exposure, you move your camera for second will make no effect on the image.
    Yeah.. the worst fear is some people drive up to the location with the headlights on in the midst of your exposure.

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Some thought which came into my mind too about doing bulb exposures. Usually Canon straps have this catch thing which fits behind at the viewfinder slot to prevent any stray light from entering. Is it really necessary??
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snoweagle
    Some thought which came into my mind too about doing bulb exposures. Usually Canon straps have this catch thing which fits behind at the viewfinder slot to prevent any stray light from entering. Is it really necessary??
    It's only necessary for self timer shots because light entering from the viewfinder will interfere with the metering. Since you're using B, you probably don't use the metering anyway.

    Also, your surrounding would probably be dark too, so it shouldn't matter.

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by lsisaxon
    It's only necessary for self timer shots because light entering from the viewfinder will interfere with the metering. Since you're using B, you probably don't use the metering anyway.

    Also, your surrounding would probably be dark too, so it shouldn't matter.
    But what if there're some lights around?
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    For bulb setting, the shutter will remain open as long as the shutter release button is depressed. Right?
    So without a cable release or remote, how do you keep the shutter release depressed?

  11. #11
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by lsisaxon
    Yeah.. the worst fear is some people drive up to the location with the headlights on in the midst of your exposure.
    can just use a black card to cover the lens mah, if the whole night have so many cars passby, that mean he choose a wrong location to set up.
    Last edited by catchlights; 13th March 2006 at 06:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas_lkt
    For bulb setting, the shutter will remain open as long as the shutter release button is depressed. Right?
    So without a cable release or remote, how do you keep the shutter release depressed?
    Technically speaking, precisely! But on the other hand, u can use the black card technique.
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas_lkt
    For bulb setting, the shutter will remain open as long as the shutter release button is depressed. Right?
    So without a cable release or remote, how do you keep the shutter release depressed?
    An excellent point that I guess has been overlooked! You can't possibly hold on cos yr hands will shake eventually.

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Gosh...left this thread for a few hours and popped by to find 12 replies on it! Thanks for the great responses, and I'll try to reply in a different way this time...

    cyber_m0nkey: Indeed, as I've read, some people prefer to build up several splashes of fireworks on the frame gradually, instead of exposing for a few seconds at a time.

    lsisaxon: Buying one would probably be smartest, only that I'm thinking of how to save a few bucks. Although I have a remote for my main body, I recently came into possesion of an old film camera which wouldn't accept the remote and needs a separate cable release. They don't usually cost that much, do they? I've even read that I need to buy one that has a lock. But what you mentioned is true...I need to check if the body works with a Bulb exposure on self-timer mode.

    Snoweagle: Good point about the viewfinder cover, and I read about the issue of light seeping in through there during timed exposures. The camera I has comes with a built-in one, so it's not too much of a worry. Also, I hope to be working mostly in the dark if I were to try star trails, or there would be too much light pollution around. Anyway, I'm just dreaming of the possible scenario.

    catchlights: Theoretically, that sounds likely.

    thomas_lkt: Exactly true. However I've assumed that the camera might pull off a bulb exposure in self-timer mode. It's wrong to assume though. I'll need to physically try it out.

    solarii: Yup...it'll be a matter of testing to see if the camera can hold a bulb exposure after a self-timer elapses. Hope it works that way!

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Okay, everyone. Sorry for the trouble. I just read the online user manual for that old film camera and it makes a mention that the shutter speed cannot be at Bulb when using the self-timer mode. So it looks like a purchase of a cable release is in order. Any advice on this? And how much should I expect to pay?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Yes fWord. Last time when i went to punggol end to do bulb shoots towards midnite, i really dislike those car headlights passing by and even people who shines their torchlight at us! Becos of this, my 'shi fu' quarrelled with a guy very aggressively when we're exposing the shots. During that time i didn't cover the viewfinder and the shots are fine. In fact, i've never used that before in any bulb shoots. Maybe they added this feature as a safety precaution.
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snoweagle
    Technically speaking, precisely! But on the other hand, u can use the black card technique.
    Isn't black card technique used for exposure control only?

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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas_lkt
    Isn't black card technique used for exposure control only?
    Can be used for bulb too just in case if any stray light comes in front, u can cover back and expose again.
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    FYI, don't need to bother about the light come in thru the view finder, as you are doing a bulb exposure, the mirror is up the light can only come in thru the lens, and you are not doing A mode or P mode, it will not affect the metering.

    a cable release is only about $10.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Bulb Photography Without Cable Release Or Remote?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snoweagle
    Can be used for bulb too just in case if any stray light comes in front, u can cover back and expose again.
    Black card is only viable for bulb mode exposure. Only in this mode, you can manually determine the length of the exposure.

    The viewfinder curtain will prevent stray light from affecting you exposure during the brief moments while the mirror is moving up/down and the closing/opening of shutter curtain. It has no effect during the exposure as the mirror up position will stop any light coming from the viewfinder. Generally, useful for self-timer mode.
    Last edited by thomas_lkt; 14th March 2006 at 07:56 AM.

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