Long-Exposure Part I

Long Exposure Photography can be fun and artistic as well to show the movement of a subject. It can be super fun when you look at results. The other good news is you can just sit down and relax with your favorite snack or drinks in your hand and let the camera roll. We call it Long Exposure because the shutter of the camera is left open for a longer time ranging from few seconds to minutes on DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. A Tripod and Remote Cable Release is a MUST for this type of photography but can be also handheld to show motion.

Handheld with DSLR at 200mm zoom range fired at 1/45 of a second

For DSLR and Mirrorless photography is best to use manual focus on the lens. Shutter speeds can be changed on the camera setting using a Tripod and Remote Release in lower light situations but a lot of landscape photographers use ND (Neutral Density) filters to allow less light to come into the camera for even longer exposure and smooth silky water effects where there is just too much light in the scene like in the middle of the day. ND filter provides 2 to 8 Stops of Light Control. I would recommend setting your ISO to 100 to get the best quality pic.

The picture below was taken on Tripod and at 100 ISO with ND filter but I made a mistake and did not set the ND filter high enough. So, the silky water effect is not as pronounced. Please make sure you focus on the subject you want before putting the ND filter on the lens.

These ones were also taken on Tripod and ISO 100 but because it was a lower light condition I just set the exposure time to 2 seconds to get the water effect you see.

There is an App called PhotoPills which I recommend using if you want to get your exposure correctly using ND filter, which I should have used before!! See screenshot of the program. It will tell you at what time exposure is equivalent to your ND filter stops.

PhotoPill App- Exposure side of it.

Long Exposures can be done on Smartphones as well. On iPhone it is easy. You have to make sure you turn on the “live” option when you take a picture of a flowing river for instance below at Truckee River. The Quality obviously is not as good as a real camera but worth playing with. The first picture is just still shot from the same scenery. The second is the Long-Exposure version of it. I made a quick video to show you how it is done.

Take the picture using “Live” and then once it is done swipe up and scroll to the left on the effect and choose “Long Exposure” and voilĂ  you got a nice picture. Just remember it won’t be as awesome as the other picture you see to the left above where you see a nice blue sky.

Experiment with Long Exposure on your smartphone with running water or light painting using a flashlight at night and moving it around, while someone else takes a picture of it. Try it. It is fun!

Happy Shooting!

Author: Kouros Farro

I am a family physician, educator, and photographer who loves landscape photography.

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