- Camera (as always…)
- Sturdy Tripod
- Shutter Release Remote (optional)
- Neutral Density Filter (optional, but very helpful)
The first step in long exposure photography is to find a subject. This is essentially the case with all forms of photography, but I feel it important to mention anyway. Finding the correct subject for your picture is key, because long exposures don’t necessarily work with everything. Long exposures are used to accentuate the movement of points of interests in your pictures — this can range from running water, fast moving clouds, waves in an ocean, etc.
I would recommend starting out with a stream or creek as practice. Somewhere secluded where you won’t get in the way with your equipment.
Attach your camera to your tripod and compose your shot. Switch your burst mode to the two second timer option, and get ready to expose your picture. That’s it. Let’s move on towards exposure.
You should either be in Aperture-Priority or Manual mode — whichever you prefer. From this point on, you will be using some basic principles of aperture to try and attempt to get a long exposure. Often times people take long exposures during the day, something that is hard to accomplish due to the amount of light available. In order to get a long exposure during the day, you must use your knowledge of how aperture works, and step down to the smallest possible aperture your lens will allow. This will let less light into your camera, and hopefully allow you to take a long exposure. If it does, great! If it doesn’t, you may need to invest in a neutral density filter or wait for darker conditions.
Neutral density (ND) filters are filters that attach to the front of your lens that help block light. By blocking light they allow you to expose for a longer period of time. Sadly, most quality neutral density filters are rather expensive. Usually, the more light the filter blocks, the more expensive it is. I would recommend doing an online search to understand how to find the ND filter that will work for you. Some people prefer ND filters that block out a lot of light, and some people don’t.
That’s really it for exposure. Remember, the only thing you’re trying to do is take a long exposure.
- Alter your Aperture to let less light into your camera.
- Use ND filters if need be.
- Wait for darker conditions — overcast days or night time.
- If you wait for darker conditions, keep in mind it may start to rain.
- If your tripod isn’t stable, try weighing it down with something heavy.
- Use a shutter release remote in place of the two-second timer.
Experiment with different subjects and try to pre-visualize what your long exposure will look like. Remember, have fun!