A Few Things To Keep In Mind When Doing Long Exposure Photography

We often see stunning images of the sky and nature, which look as if they were taken by a professional photographer with expensive equipment. This type of photography, called long exposure photography, can be achieved by almost anyone with any type of camera, which can make even the most subtle scene look interesting. There are a variety of ways to achieve the perfect shot, including various types of equipment, such as filters, tripods, and most importantly, patience. 

What Is Long Exposure Photography?

Long exposure photography is the combination of shutter speed, focus, and light. It is one of the most popular types of photography and great results can be achieved by almost anyone. This type of photography is a true art form, as the photographer must use their imagination to visualize the scene and how it will look. It also requires a little knowledge about camera settings and operations, including filters and adjusting shutter speed.

No matter if you are a novice or an experienced photographer, this is a great way to create eye catching photos. It can also make even the simplest subject look unique, and can make a novice photographer seem like a pro!

Tweak Your Settings

Although this type of  photography is somewhat simple, there are a variety of different camera settings that must be considered in order to achieve the intended results. Certain aspects such as shutter speed and shutter release are the pinnacles of a perfect shot. 

The shutter speed is the amount of time that the camera’s shutter is open. Getting the shutter settings just right is critical for this type of photography, as it will control how the light and other objects react. However, it is very important that you do not leave the shutter open too long, as the photo may be overexposed. Therefore, using a low shutter setting ensures that the photo will not be overexposed and the shot looks more professional.Other types of equipment, such as filters that regulate how much light enters the lens can make a significant difference in your shot.

bands-of-light due to a long exposure photo

Have The Right Equipment

There is a variety of equipment available to set up the perfect shot. Most importantly, it is important to have a steady and focused camera that will maximize the potential for a crisp photo. Furthermore, proper lighting is absolutely essential, so it is important to ensure that your camera has manual shutter speed and ISO settings. A tripod is also extremely important, as it will ensure that the camera is held steady while your shutter gathers the light from your chosen scene. 

Location Is Key

Location is key to the perfect photo. One of the most important aspects of the perfect location is how much light is present. Light allows your shot to give the impression of movement, such as people walking, waves crashing, or clouds moving. Because the long exposure shot will look completely different from how the shot looks in real-life, having a vivid imagination is key to surmise how the photo will look.

Many photographers choose city centers with immense light protruding from vehicles and buildings. Nature is another popular location, as the natural lighting of the stars at night allow for a great long exposure shot. It is very important to visit the location prior to your photo session, as you need to use your creative mind to decide how your subjects will move when the photo is taken.

Use Your Neutral Density Filter When Doing Long Exposure Photography

A neutral density filter determines how much light enters the camera’s lens. This is a critical aspect of long exposure photography, as light is one of the most important aspects of the shot. This is especially important for long exposure night photography, as it allows small bits of light into the lens, creating a breathtaking scene. By adding a ND filter to your lens, you are able to better control how much light lands on your camera’s sensor, and ultimately, how your shot looks.

One of these is the Graduated Neutral Density filter, which acts like a gradient placed over your lens, with one side letting most of the light through, and the other gradually letting less and less light through to your camera’s sensor. This gradual darkening of the scene can be used to add neat light changes in your photo. For many novice photographers, a neutral density filter may not be an option, therefore, there are some tricks to replicate the illusion given by the ND filter.

One of the most popular ways to get that perfect shot without an ND filter is to optimize the camera’s shutter speed by putting it on to one of its lowest settings. This allows photographers to achieve the same effect without the price tag of a filter.

Focus On The Subject And Take The Picture

And finally, it’s time to take the photo. Taking your photo is an art form in itself, as it requires ample time with the camera in order to get it right. After setting up your camera on the tripod and focusing on your subject, it’s time to tweak your camera’s settings for the perfect shot.

When taking the photo, it is important to ensure that your camera’s shutter is at the right speed. When taking the photo, you can either use your camera’s autofocus or manual mode. However, it is important that if you choose to use manual mode, you adjust your lens’ focus ring so the shot is crisp and clear.

Chicago EL with a long exposure

The great thing about long exposure photography is you can use both your camera’s auto and manual focus while taking the shot. Begin by setting your camera to autofocus, then, push your camera’s shutter button halfway, and then switch to manual focus. This method is utilized by many photographers, as it allows you to maintain a crisp and clear focus, which can be challenging in manual mode alone.

Whether it is a busy city center or a rural landscape, you are sure to be impressed by your photographic ability. However, there is one more setting to tweak. Oftentimes, your camera will only allow you to hold the shutter button for thirty seconds. However, by switching to “bulb mode”, there is no limit to how long the shutter can be pushed. And don’t forget, use your imagination to really set the scene for how your photo will turn out.

Long exposure photography is a great way to show off your artistic prowess. It allows you to enjoy and facilitate a relationship with your scene. Most importantly, it is important to enjoy the experience and have fun, as photography is a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoors!