Long exposure photography is a technique that lets you capture the movement of the stars and other celestial bodies in a way that a normal digital camera cannot. The longer the exposure, the more movement you can capture. Long exposure photography has several applications, though it takes understanding what your equipment is capable of – be it the digital camera sensor or the lens you have installed over it. For example, you can use it to capture the motion of a star to create an artistic effect, or you can use it to capture the movement of clouds to create a surreal dynamic photograph.
Here are the following steps on how to do long exposure photography:
- Understand the weather – Luckily, the weather can be predicted with some accuracy, and with a bit of research, you can make accurate guesses about the weather conditions on the day of the shoot.
- Visit the destination in advance – Before you go to a place, look around and find out what the background is. Unless it’s close to a place you know, you may not get the right exposure and lighting. Try to find out what time of the day you should try to snap your photos. That will give you an idea of the best times to visit the location so that you can get the most out of it.
- Don’t forget to bring your tripod – A tripod is the most important piece of equipment you can buy for long exposure photography. You can use a remote or use the timer function of your camera to take the shot for you, but if you want the best results, you’re going to need a tripod.
- Compose the scene and lock the focus – Getting the shot you want can be difficult if you don’t have a good plan. First, you have to compose the image. You probably know this one, but if not, focus on something and let the camera do its magic. If you are in doubt, pull the focus and recompose the image.
- Set up your camera to achieve that perfect exposure – One of the best things about photography is controlling the exposure. Sometimes it’s best to dictate the exposure, and other times, you want to let the camera determine the exposure. There are a lot of different ways to do this, and one of the best is to use an aperture. An aperture is an adjustable aperture that lets you set the camera exposure prior to pressing the shutter button. Using an aperture, you get to control exactly how the light entering the camera is focused. This can be helpful when you are taking a photo of a waterfall, for example.
- Choose and then add your chosen filter – Without a doubt, the most challenging aspect of learning how to photograph long exposures is knowing the right time to use a filter and then the right filters to use. One of the suggested uses as the first filter to use is a neutral density filter. This will block up to 50% of the light and prevent the camera from overexposing your image. Well, it would still depend on what you preferred.
- Change the shooting mode to Bulb mode – Sometimes, you may need to photograph something where you do not want to use a flash. In these cases, there are ways to get the same results using a different method. One way to do this would be to use long exposure techniques to create the same effect as using a flash to get the same effect. This tends to produce a very eerie effect and can be used in other situations, such as when you would like to photograph a moving object, such as a car.
- It’s time to take the long exposure shot – Exposure time is one of those things that can be a little confusing to new photographers. It seems that a long shutter speed can be as short as a couple of seconds, while a shorter one can be as long as 15 minutes. The truth is, there is no exact science to determining how long your exposure should be. It is entirely dependent on the situation. It’s important to understand how much time your camera needs to take a photo.
- If in doubt, check the histogram – histogram is literally a graph of all the data captured by your camera sensor when taking your photo and is very important to get right. If you have an entry-level DSLR, the histogram is on the back of the camera and is very easy to get to.
- Do any editing afterward – many people try to get the desired effects for their photographs there and then, when actually, any editing that needs to be completed, such as taking the time to join multiple images into one, cropping, and changing the color scheme to grayscale should be done once you finished your photography session. This will allow you to focus solely on one process at once.
Sometimes, you want to take a break from the world and be at the moment. For those moments, long exposure photography is the perfect vantage point.