• Ewan Arnolda

Love with Long Exposure Photography

Updated: Dec 4, 2018


Long before I started photography I loved admiring long exposure photos. I love the movement and dynamics of the moment. Even my very first photo was a long exposure shot of Melbourne, taken on an 'Intro to DSLR Camera'. This began my love for this type of photography, even starting my own project to capture Melbourne city at night since 2009.


Quick definition of long exposure is using a long-duration shutter speed to capture an image.

My very first long exposure image Circa 2009 - Sony A100 - 4.0sec, f/7.1, ISO100

Over the years, long exposure has become an addictive form of photography for me. I took every opportunity to create long exposure shots when out on a shoot. This form of photography has given me a great sense of creativity, producing dynamic photos.


This is not a very technical document and will assume photographers have the basic knowledge of long exposure photography. I am not saying I am an expert but I would like to pass on what I have learnt and still continue to learn.


Tips for beginners;


Heavy Duty Tripod

A heavy-duty, sturdy tripod is a must to support the weight of the camera. If the tripod cannot support the camera you could be taking blurry photos. Consider using a backpack to weigh down the tripod.


If no tripod is available, consider something solid, e.g, a table, or brick wall.


Timer or Remote

Take care to avoid image blur due to the action of pressing the shutter release button (which can cause the camera to move slightly). Setting the inbuilt timer can ensure ample time for the camera to settle after pressing the shutter button. Another alternative is to use a cable release. Even better is the use of an infrared (IR) remote as this limits physical contact with the camera.


Now remote control apps are available to operate your camera via a mobile phone Bluetooth. These will vary according to camera manufacture. I suggest checking the manufacture websites for more information to verify your is capable of this feature.


Turn off Image Stabiliser

Turn off the image Stabiliser feature. This could be located on the camera or lens depending on the manufacturer. The function of the image stabiliser is to look for vibration and reduce it. The tripod acts as this stabiliser to reduce the chance of taking blurry images.


Use Filters

Don't be afraid to take long exposure photos during the day. Using ND (Neutral Density) filters in Manual mode along with highest possible Aperture (f/22 for most cameras), and low ISO you can create long exposure photos during the daytime. Also stacking ND filters you can achieve greater long exposure time.


Long exposure photo ideas

  • Cityscape - capture the moving crowds and vehicles. You could get a friend to stand still among the crowd, focus on them, and capture waves of people moving past them.

  • Water - Any type of flowing water-based feature, e.g, Waterfalls or Ocean.

  • Sky - Moving clouds are another popular long exposure subject.

  • Light - Playing with light, spinning some sort of light source is another common long exposure subject.

  • Astrophotography - This is fast becoming a popular genre in photography and is it's topic. 'Astrophotography is a specialised type of photography for recording photos of astronomical objects, celestial events, and areas of the night sky.'

Personally, I have loved capturing the City of Melbourne, especially at night. The city seems to come alive at night when combined with long exposure. I started my own Melbourne at Night Project capturing the city at night since 2009.


Here are a collection of long exposure photos taken over several years.


Tram Passing - Canon 5D III - 1.3sec, f/9, ISO125


Foot Traffic at Degraves Street,Melbourne - Canon 5D III, 1.6sec, f/13, ISO320


Tram passing by pedestrians - Canon 5D III - 0.4sec, f/16, ISO250

Waterfall - Canon 5D III - 0.8 sec, f/16, ISO200

The following is using light source to capture motion. One of the most popular is combining Steel wool, A metal whisk and a rope. The following was provided by Yorsys Photography


Photographer David Bowen

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