Long-Exposure Part II

When I started this blog, I got multiple feedback and request about smartphone photography, as most of us are using those.

I personally would prefer Long Exposure captured with Mirrorless or DSLR, but then again there is just too much to carry around for folks and may not be as feasible for some to invest in sometimes. But is it all that awesome using smartphone cameras as Mirrorless and DSLRs?

I like to dive in and talk a bit about Apps you can use to do long exposure. In the last blog about Long Exposure, I talked about the feature that iPhones have to do long exposure but that is not as good as using this App. The App I liked the most was “Slow Shutter Cam“. You would definitely be needing to use a tripod even with your smartphones if you are using this App to get the desired effect and quality for these types of cameras (smartphones). To my surprise, most Apps were at best subpar (yes, I did buy a few to try). I am hoping Apple would actually incorporate long exposure functionality to the iPhone with a much better interface in the near future.

The two small tripods I use and have with me are JOBY GripTight ONE Micro Stand for Smartphones and JOBY GripTight GorillaPod Stand PRO. If you want to splurge you can get JOBY GorillaPod 3K Flexible Mini-Tripod with Ball Head with this JOBY GripTight PRO Smartphone Mount.

In my opinion, you can do long exposure on stuff like a river and cars driving at dawn or dusk with lights on to get their light trail (15-30 second exposure for cars, 3-10 seconds maybe for water flowing) and it can look nice. Remember you need to use a tripod always. You can hook up your iPhone ear pods to your iPhone and when you are ready with the iPhone on the tripod when the App is open, press the “Plus button” on the ear pod as a remote release so you do not cause vibration.

Doing long exposure with moving clouds that would make them like brushed and softer was not possible with those Apps I tried and the best App did not even pull it off (see pics below).

In regards to light painting and long exposure using Apps on iPhone, Absolutely forget it! (see pics below)

In summary, smartphones have a VERY long way to go to enable visually pleasing Long Exposure photography for sure!

There are many ways you can have fun with a great “REAL” camera, tripod, and a remote release shutter button. You can just sit back, enjoy your choice of beverage and just play with long exposure shots, and depending on the surrounding, you can get all the fun exposures with flashlights of cars coming and going and even starlights if the sky is darker enough.

This image was taken on top of Cave Rock at Lake Tahoe after the sunset. It was at 32mm, f22, ISO 100, and a long exposure for 15 seconds. The lake was calm but with long exposure, it looks a bit flat.

Cave Rock lookout to Lake Tahoe

Now a funny back story on that trip. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. I made a rookie mistake. I just received my Canon back after a basic checkup and mirror cleaning. I made a mistake and did not check if my settings were still on RAW only and unfortunately it was set on JPEG only. It is hard to find a spot up there for Sunset and you have to go early and also can get vertigo standing on a rock and looking down. I shot a lot of pics JPEG and it was useless. On the hike down, I stopped on the spot to take the image above and realized it and set it to RAW only. I was furious that I spent so much time but did not get the awesome sunset in RAW images.

I always take an iPhone shot for instant gratification and to share it with the family, and I did it that day as well and you see the picture below. iPhone does a good job taking the picture in HDR (High Dynamic Range with the software and AI built in it). I just wished I checked my camera setting before I started taking my images that evening with my large camera. So checking your gear for the correct settings is always of utmost importance.

Could you imagine what it would have looked like with a “REAL” camera?

Opinions are solely my own.

Happy Shooting!

Author: Kouros Farro

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

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