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long exposure

WHY take a long exposure photograph?

The aim is to capture something special and use ‘light capture’ within a wide and dynamic framework. The purpose of a long exposure photograph is to get the most of your camera and capture a ‘slower’ light going into your camera; therefore, the longer the exposure, the ‘blurrier’ the detail will be on the light entering the aperture. Therefore, what you’ll get is a seamless blend of light captured, as the image has been ‘exposed for longer’ against your sensor. 


Take A Look! 


Example 1

long exposure

As you can see, you set the ISO speed low and close up the aperture. You also will set the shutter speed to allow the shutter to be as open as possible for a longer period of time; considering the above photograph it will be 13 seconds or ‘13/1’ as illustrated.



Example 2


In this photograph you can see there’s a potential longer shutter speed (13 seconds or above) which means the shutter is open for that amount of time.

ISO will be set to the lowest setting and you will close the Aperture of the camera up so it is almost a pinhole.

HOW to take a Long Exposure Photograph – Preparation is everything!

It’s super important to think about doing some pre-production when attempting to take some long exposure photography.

You can apply LEP with some street photography and capture some ‘light streaks’ with the local traffic off of the main highstreet (as in example 1); or you may know the perfect spot overlooking the beautiful lake you frequent every Summer but if you are not prepared to know your spot BEFORE you take a photograph, you may indeed want to ‘run and gun’ the situation.

To ensure the best results of your long exposure photography, having some background knowledge to the point where you will be setting the camera on its wide exposure will prove hugely advantageous to the results.

A recce on a location that you may not have been to before would be hugely advantageous to ensuring better, more accurate results, and seeing the location in advance will allow you to figure out the best time of day to conduct your photography. For example,  It might make your photos look more ‘exciting’ shooting at the eponymous ‘Golden Hour’ (Wikipedia: In photography, the golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is higher in the sky. The period of time shortly before sunrise and shortly after sunset is called the “magic hour,” especially by cinematographers)

Example 3

long exposure

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT that you’ll need to do Long Exposure photography?


It’s really important to have a lot of stability when conducting long exposure photography, and you want to consider which objects in the ‘Frame’ of your picture are going to remain CONSTANT. i.e. if you look at the picture above you’ll see that the ‘pier’ and the ‘ballasts’ coming out of the sea are the constant, immovable objects; while the sea/ ocean is the ‘MOVING’ element in the picture, therefore, due to its continuous conflicting nature – due to movement being captured under the long exposure, the waves definition will become blurred.

NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS are also key to doing this kind of photography. Depending on what time of day you will be shooting, it’s quite important to have the correct amount of ‘light’ to stream in and hit the sensor. It has to be reduced as much as it can. If you think about it – the sensor is exposed and the shutter is open for potentially 1 to 5 to 13 seconds, or longer; so that’s a LOT of light you’re exposing for… a neutral density filter will balance that light and will vary on the stops of light/ thickness that you want to expose for. A Wise buy!!!

A camera with a MANUAL and/or BULB setting will allow you to adjust the shutter speed manually or to push the amount of time you want to allow for the shutter to be open; so make sure that any of your cameras, generally, have this option. If you have a DSLR camera then ensure that you’re checking the light levels through the HISTOGRAM properties that are available to you so you can monitor light levels more accurately.

Other essentials include a LENS CLOTH (to ensure a lovely clear picture)EXTRA BATTERIES (long exposures can eat power!) and also to reduce further camera shake and to make sure you don’t touch the camera or cause any movement while the camera is exposing it might be useful to buy a REMOTE SHUTTER RELEASE. 

For further information on how to produce ‘Long Exposure Photography’, check out these links right here: –

‘Long Exposure photography guide and tips’ by Gordon Laing

‘7 essential equipments for long exposure photography’

‘Step by Step guide to Long Exposure Photography’

‘What is Shutter Speed?’

Let’s get started…

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