Long exposure at Sugarloaf Rock, Western Australia

Sugarloaf rock near Dunsbourgh in Western Australia is a large rock formation just off the coast of cape naturalist. It is named sugarloaf because the seagulls who live there leave a white mess covering the top. This makes the rock look like a sugar loaf, which was the most popular way refined sugar was sold in 19th century.


Sunset Pictures of sugarloaf rock

Sugarloaf rock is a very popular spot to watch the sunset. Therefore a viewing platform from which you can comfortably watch the sun disappear behind the rock has been installed just by the carpark. 

SugarLoaf rock view point

However if you would like a little more privacy you can take one of the steep, unofficial paths down the cliff to the beach. This stoney beach is lined with more rock formations. The waves crash against these causing spray to fly up into the air. There is many small rock pools where you can look for crabs. 

Sugarloaf rock splash

This was the perfect spot for me to do some long exposure shots because I would be able to capture the movement of the water with the colours of the sky. 


What do you need for long exposure?

  1. A tripod. This is obvious but it is essential to take pictures with shutter speeds slower than 1/60 of a second. The shutter speeds I was using were as slow as 20 seconds. 
  2. Wide angle lens. This is not actually necessary for long exposure but it help with capturing more of the landscape, therefore showing more of a contrast between the colourful sky and the moving water.  
  3.  Neutral density Filter. This is a darker piece of glass or plastic which is placed in front of the lens. It allows you to use longer shutter speeds without over exposing the image. 
  4. A Graduated Neutral Density Filter. It works in the same way as the previous filter however it has some kind of gradient which can be used to make the sky darker and the water brighter. 
  5. HDR. High Dynamic Range photos do the same as a graduated neutral density filter. The camera takes 3 or more photos of the same scene one after the other. They are usually one photo of the correct exposure, one photo a stop over exposed and one photo a stop under exposed. Some cameras will then combine these photo for you other, with others you will have to combine them late in photoshop.
  6. Self Timer. Finally using a 2 second self timer prevents camera shake caused by your hand pressing the shutter button.   


My Pictures

I was not using any kind of Neutral Density filter or HDR technique therefore I needed to wait until the sky was dark enough to use a long shutter speed. This was an inconvenience because getting the correct exposure for the water was then difficult. 

Here is a series of photos at different shutter speeds to show you the effect each one has. 

Sugarloaf rock sunset
1/640 shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
1/250 shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
1/125 shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
1/50 shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
1/40 shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
1/25 shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
1/10 shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
1.3sec shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
10sec shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
15sec shutter speed


Sugarloaf rock sunset
20sec shutter speed

In conclusion it would have been better for me to use a neutral density filter. I will now consider buying one. 

Related posts

Leave a Comment