Long exposure photography

Long exposure refers to taking a photograph with shutter speeds of between a few seconds to a few hours and is a great technique to capture striking landscape photos.

First, you will need to secure your camera on a tripod. Hand holding a camera with a shutter speed of even 1 second will produce a blurred image. Set your ISO depending on the scene and use Shutter Priority (Tv) mode to adjust your shutter speed up to 30 seconds. Using a remote shutter release, like Remote Controller RC-6, or the 2-second timer will avoid any camera shake as you press the shutter.

ISO 12800, 15 seconds, f/4.0

In this shot of the night sky the ISO was kept high, shutter speed slow and aperture wide, which allowed for an exposure despite the darkness to the naked eye.

ISO 50, 360 seconds, f/22

Using an intervalometer and using the Bulb mode on the camera allowed for an exposure of 6 minutes. You can see the effect of the rotation of the earth as the moon moves position during the exposure.

As you can see with the above example including the moon any movement during your exposure will result in blur. This effect can be maximised and is often used by landscape photographers to convey movement in sky or water.

The challenge shooting long exposures during the day is setting the shutter speed to allow enough movement to occur. Ideally you want shutter speeds of more than a few seconds, so remember to keep your ISO low and aperture small. It also helps to shoot in overcast or shady conditions or at either end of the day when the light is dimmer. Alternatively invest in a filter that fixes on the end of your lens and prevents some light from entering. A neutral density (ND) filter will work best.

With a low ISO of 50, small aperture of f/22 and a filter attached to the lens, shutter speeds of 5 and 3.2 seconds were used to capture the blur of the sea through the flood defence.

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Coming next: Seeing the world without a viewfinder.

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