10 Cool Tips & Tricks For Shooting Long Exposure Photography

10 Tips & Tricks For Long Exposure Photography [Great Ideas And Inspirations]

Long Exposure Photography, night time photography

What Is Long Exposure Photography?

Long Exposure Photography is another one of the great Genres of Photography. And in this, slower shutter speeds are used to capture motion. If you are not familiar with how shutter speeds are and how they work, stay tuned as we will be helping you understand each and every aspect that plays an important role in Long Exposure Photography. 

What is Long Exposure Photography?

Not only motion, but we can also use Long Exposure Photography to capture sharp images of a stationary object while eliminating all the other moving elements in the frame. In Long Exposure Photography, the Bright moving object, anything that has a light, can leave a trail which makes its path visible. However, the trail is only seen in the case of bright objects or lights. For Example, a car might be obscured in daytime long exposure photography, but at night, we will see the car and its path due to its head and tail lights. This style also makes the oceans and even waterfalls appear smooth.

City Long Exposure Photography

Since this style is a lot different from conventional photography, you might have a lot of questions. But be assured as we are here to answer each and every one of your questions. So let's start with Shutter Speed.

What Is Shutter Speed? How Does It Affect Long Exposure Photography?

What Is Shutter Speed?

Shutter Speed is one of the 3 main components of the camera's exposure triangle. As aperture determines how much light will enter the camera and the ISO determines how sensitive the sensor will be to that light, the Shutter Speed determines the duration for which the sensor will be exposed to the light. Hence slower shutter speed means the sensor will be exposed to the light for a longer period. And during this time, the sensor picks up all the stationary elements and the bright elements like lights, even if they are in motion. The whole concept of Long Exposure Photography revolves around slower shutter speeds. Hence, long exposure photography can only be done when you have full manual control over the camera.

Types Of Long Exposure Photography

Here are some different types of Long Exposure Photography that you commonly get to see on the internet. 

Steel Wool Photography

Steel Wool Photography

This style is achieved by lighting steel wool on fine and swinging around while the camera captures the whole thing. 

Light Painting

Light Painting

Light Painting is also something similar but it can be done with any source of light like flashlights or a sparkle. 

Star Trails

Star Trails

This is a great way of capturing the movement of the stars in a single frame.   

Cityscapes

Cityscapes

This emphasizes more on the city, cars and the lights. A very common practice in Cityscape long exposure photography is to capture the trail of the head and tail lights of cars.

Abstract Photography

Abstract Photography

We all know that abstract photography is something that can not be defined by words. Any illustration that carries a deeper meaning is considered as abstract.

Want To Know More - Guide To Abstract Photography

How To Do Long Exposure Photography? 

Since this style doesn't resemble conventional photography, most of us want to get a better understanding of the functioning of this genre and here we are with a Step-By-Step Guide To Long Exposure Photography. So if you are planning to take full control of your camera for a long exposure photo shoot, here are some of the best tips and tricks you can try to make your experience much more effortless and rewarding. 

1. Find A Good Location

One of the most important things in long exposure photography is the location and the setup. You have to pre-plan you shoot to make sure that you are completely prepared and the pictures come out to be great.

Long Exposure Photography

2. Set Up Your Tripod And Camera

Once you have finalized the location, you can now start with setting up your camera. And the first step in that is placing your tripod. A tripod is an absolute necessity for a shoot like that as no one can hold the camera completely steady for such long periods of time. 

Long Exposure Photography

3. Find The Frame And Set The Focus

The next step is to find the perfect frame. You can take the rules of composition into consideration while framing the best shot. After finding your composition, you can now turn on the manual focus of your camera and lock it in where the subject is supposed to be.  

Long Exposure Photography

4. Set The Exposure

As you are done with the setup, you now have to use the manual mode to further go on with the shoot. If you are confused which camera setting will be the best for Long Exposure Photography, don't worry as the blog also has the section for the Best Camera Settings for Long Exposure Photography.

Long Exposure Photography, exposure setup

5. Add The ND (Neutral Density) Filter

Most of the time, using slower shutter speeds can make the photos unnecessarily bright. So for that, all the professional photographers use ND Filters so that the harsh natural light can be blocked by them. This way the photographer can use much longer exposures with overexposing the images.

Long Exposure Photography, ND filter

6. Use The Bulb Mode

Usually, the shutter speed of the camera can not go any slower then 30 seconds, but if you switch to the bulb mode, you get the complete control of the shutter speed. 

Long Exposure Photography

7. Check The Histogram

Once you have checked the exposure and also applied the ND Filters, you need to refer to the histogram to make sure that there are no overly exposed or underly exposed areas in the photo.  

long exposure photography night

8. Determine The Shutter Speed

Once you have done all the calculations, select a perfect shutter speed that can get you the image you want. This is more of a hit and a trial method, where you try different shutter speeds while keeping other settings fixed until you get the perfect shot.  

long exposure photography night

9. Use A Shutter Release Button

When you are doing long exposure photography, you have to make sure that there are no camera shakes in the process. And pressing the shutter physically can cause a little camera shake. So to prevent this, photographers use a shutter release button which can click a photo which the photographer physically comes in contact with the camera.

Night Long Exposure Photography

10. Take Your Shot

This is the final step. As we said, you might need to try a lot of different combinations of settings before you get the right image. 

Long Exposure Photography

Hence these were some of the things you need to remember if you are getting started with Long Exposure Photography.

Best Camera Settings For Long Exposure Photography

camera setting for exposure photography

This is one of the most asked questions in Long Exposure Photography since using a slow shutter speed isn't everything. Just using a slow shutter speed can lead to very bad and unnatural looking images. So to make sure that only the highlights of the photo are pronounced and the shadows are easily distinguishable, you need to understand what combination of setting will be the best for the shot you want. However, the goal is to keep the shutter open as long as it takes to get the desired photo. You just need to take care of the aperture opening and ISO so that you can get the right amount of shadows. 

Equipment For Long Exposure Photography

In long exposure photography, there are a few things that you need to have if you are looking forward to mesmerizing photos. 

Camera

camera setting for exposure photography

Just like any other genre of photography, you also need a camera here. It is better if you have a professional camera because the more control you have over your camera the better it is for this style of photography.

Lens

lens for long exposure photography

Make sure that you have lenses of different focal length so that you always have the best lens no matter how far or close you are to the subject 

Tripod

tripod for long exposure photography

You can not do Long Exposure Photography without a tripod. Without it, your images will turn out to be very Shaky.

ND Filters

ND filters for long exposure photography

To save your images from being overexposed in the sun, you need ND Filters. The longer the shutter speed the stronger the filter you'll need.

Remote Shutter Release 

long exposure photography

To prevent the potential shake of the camera at the time of physically pressing the shutter button, you need a remote shutter button. This will not only prevent any camera shakes, but it will also make the process more convenient. 

What Lens Is Best For Long Exposure Photography?

Best lense for long exposure photography

Since you are using slower shutter speeds, certainly there is no need for you to use a fast lens. And since you will be using tripods, you also don't need lenses with image stabilization. You can use a wide-angle zoom lens for Long Exposure Photography.

Ideas And Inspirations For Long Exposure Photography

Ideas And Inspirations For Long Exposure Photography

Ideas And Inspirations For Long Exposure Photography

Ideas And Inspirations For Long Exposure Photography

Ideas And Inspirations For Long Exposure Photography

Ideas And Inspirations For Long Exposure Photography

Ideas And Inspirations For Long Exposure Photography

Ideas And Inspirations For Long Exposure Photography

Conclusion 

Long Exposure Photography is a great genre that can be mastered with a little practice. If you are someone who is already pretty familiar with using the manual mode of the camera, then it will take you no time learning Long Exposure Photography. With a couple of demo shots, you'll be able to take the desired shot. There is no perfect shutter speed for long exposure shots. The shutter speed can change with the shooting environment and can be from 1/60th of a second to several minutes. 

What makes long exposure photography special is that each and every image you click is unique from the others. There is no way you can take the same photo of cars going on a highway. With a little practice, you can get the amazing long exposure photos you want.

Written By - Ranvijay Singh on 24 Aug, 2020