Most photographers, whether they’re new to the photography game or have been in it for a long time, have heard of the term long exposure.
If you’re one of the few who hasn’t heard the term, or, if you have but didn’t know what it meant, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Long exposure simply means that, instead of using a slow shutter speed, you use a longer one. This will allow you to effectively capture all the parts of the image that stand still while blurring the ones that are moving.
Obviously, because of this fact, long exposure is not your standard photography go-to. However, it can be and is often used well in artistic photography.
If you are looking to use long exposure photography in your own work, don’t worry. It’s not a hard thing to do, as long as you use it at the right times and for the right purposes.
Try Photographing Objects with Moving Lights
One of the very best ways to utilize exposure photography is by taking photos of something that is both lighted and moving.
The Ferris wheel is a great example. But, don’t expect to earn any long exposure stars. This shot has been done a lot, so it is not new and original. However, it is a great way to get some practice with this type of photography.
If you do want to photograph your local Ferris wheel or some other ride or anything else with moving lights, we recommend a small aperture, usually no more than f/32. For best results, you should also use your camera in manual or shutter priority mode. Your speed should be based on the speed of the object you are photographing.
While you may not win any major awards with this type of shot, you will most definitely get an interesting and imaginative photo that will serve your portfolio well.
Try a Lighthouse at Night if You Can
For a truly amazing and somewhat original shot, one place that we recommend practicing your long exposure photography is at a lighthouse. When you take the photo, it should be at night, and the lighthouse should be lighted.
Of course, not everyone has access to such a place, but, if you do, make the most of it.
We recommend shooting at about 114 seconds exposure. What you should get is a phenomenal photo of a lighthouse with its light beacon broken into distinct and beautiful rays, a wonderful addition to any photographic repertoire.
Always Use a Very Stable Tripod
While we’ve given some suggestions, you can try if you are able, one suggestion that you must follow for long exposure shots is to always use a tripod.
Whether you’re shooting a lighthouse or anything else, it is important to understand that, as the name implies, long exposure photographs take time.
As such, don’t attempt to shoot them with just your hand and a camera. There are guaranteed to be some wobbles in there no matter what.
Thus, use a very sturdy tripod that can stay stable and still for the entire exposure period, which can sometimes be up to two minutes or more if you’re doing it right.
Try Photographing The Beauty of The Stars
Electronic lighted objects are not the only things that you can photograph via this method to ensure a beautiful, artistic shot. We also recommend natural light, such as the stars.
If you go outside at night and point your camera with a long exposure shutter at the stars, you’ll be amazed at what you can capture.
To create star trails and beauty, you’ll need to use a tripod as mentioned above. We also recommend a cable release to further guard against camera instability.
Plus, if you want to add even more depth and interest to the photo, we recommend also including something stable in the shot, like an unlighted building in the background or a tree. The contrast of the moving light versus the stable dark will create a beautiful and deeply fascinating image guaranteed.
Consider Capturing Snow at Dawn
One final suggestion for a gorgeous long exposure photograph is to go out early in the morning when there’s snow on the ground or, if you’re brave enough, when it’s still snowing.
The light contrasting with the bright snow and helped by the morning light will do wonders for your photo.
We’ve given you lots of great long exposure ideas, but your mind is probably full of even more. Act on those ideas. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Sure, you might get some duds, but you might also get some beautiful, amazing shots that are truly original. And, really, that is what photography is all about.