There is so much you can do with long exposure photography! Maybe this is your first time using long exposure or maybe you’re a pro and want some extra advice – either way, these tips for great long exposure photography are perfect for any level of photographer!
Even if you’ve never used long exposure before, you’ve definitely seen the finished product! This is how photographers get amazing pictures of lights “moving” across the photo. It’s done by causing the shutter of the camera to close at a slower rate so that more light is absorbed. When a light is moved during a long-exposure it creates a trailing effect in the final picture. When the light is still, the slower shutter allows everything to become brighter, as if it was taken during the day.The photo above was actually taken as a series of vertical long exposures that were then stitched together to get a wide angle.
The photo below is a beautiful example of what you can achieve wtih long exposure photography. This photo is composed of a series of vertical long exposure photos that were then stitched together to get a wide angle view of the landscape near Spruce Mountain Ranch in Larkspur, Colorado.
Don’t worry too much about the technical aspects of long exposure photography because now you can take awesome photos with your phone and still have great long exposure options! We tested out a variety of apps to find the best one. For an iPhone, we recommend LongExpo by EyeTap Soft, and for Android, we liked Long Exposure Camera 2 the best. Both apps are free, and while they do offer in-app purchases, we don’t think you’ll need them! The apps allow you to adjust shutter speed and the type of light you’re trying to capture, which is easy to adjust by tapping on the list of options they give you.
F-Stops & ISO
When you are ready to setup, remember that your f-stop, shutter speed and ISO can make or break a photo. F-stops are all about the size of the aperture and the aperture controls how much light can enter the camera while you’re shooting. Our photographers recommended an f-stop between 5.6 and 8 for great long exposure photography. The smaller opening allows less light in, which may seem counterintuitive. However, when you’re absorbing light over a long period of time, like you are when you’re taking long exposure photos, you don’t want too much light to enter and make the photo too bright. A smaller aperture will make sure your exciting long-exposure picture doesn’t get washed out!
Make sure you have a very slow shutter speed. This is really where the light absorption and motion blur comes from, allowing the camera to receive the light over a longer period of time than you normally would.
We also recommended keeping your ISO low, which impacts the exposure in the pictures you take – the higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera is and the more grainy or over-exposed your picture will look. Again, it may seem counterintuitive to keep a low ISO when you want to capture light, but having a lower ISO will prevent the camera from taking too much in at once.
Last but definitely not least, don’t forget to bring your tripod and a trigger cable or remote with you for extra credit! Regardless of experience level, we always recommend using a tripod or resting your hand or phone against a steady surface. Moving your camera or phone while it is taking a long exposure photo will cause blurriness and ruin the smooth line of light you are trying to capture. These simple pieces of equipment can make a huge difference in your picture quality.
Let’s Create Some Great Long Exposure Photography
Now that you have these tips, have fun trying something new with the pictures you take! Feel free to share pictures you take after reading these tips or any other tips you want to share in the comments below!