Get a free year on Tuts+ this month when you purchase a Siteground hosting plan from $3.95/mo
Long exposure photography means using a long shutter speed, a tripod, and often a remote shutter release. The resulting effect is to sharply capture stationary elements of a scene, while blurring, smearing, or obscuring any moving elements. It's a beautiful effect, and can lead to incredibly beautiful images. In this roundup, we've compiled some amazing long exposure photography, along with useful tips and links to help you try it yourself!
3 Tips For Long Exposure Photography
Whenever you're leaving your camera shutter open for a long period (anything above the reciprocal of the lens’ focal length - i.e. 1/50th of a second for a 50mm lens), you'll need to have something to steady your camera. Holding it by hand is perfectly fine for many shots, but not if you're wanting to experiment with a long exposure.
Start by picking up a tripod. It doesn't need to be a particularly fancy or expensive model, particularly if you're only just starting out. Choose a size that fits your compromise between being large enough to be useful, but small enough to carry around as needed.
You could also purchase a cable release, to avoid any shake when you physically press the shutter. A cheaper alternative to this is simply using the self-timer on your SLR. Set it to two seconds, and then stand back!
Use a Neutral Density Filter
If you're wanting to use a long exposure in daytime for a blurring effect, you'll often find that your image quickly becomes over-exposed with blown out highlights. To remedy this, try using a neutral density filter. These come in all manner of different varieties, each of which will allow you to maintain a longer shutter speed in particular light conditions.
These are particularly useful when you're trying to blur the motion of water in daylight, or if you'd like to reduce the depth of field in very bright lighting conditions.
Head Out at Night
Although there's plenty to be captured in the day, long exposures at night take on a completely new feel. It's a widely showcased type of photography, but one that never fails to impress and amaze. It shows a blurred aspect of light that we never see with our own eyes, and captivates viewers for that very reason.
The usual advice applies - You need a tripod, lots of patience, and a few interesting sources of artificial light to incorporate in the photo!