Long Exposure Photography

Updated: 14 Feb 2024

Long exposure photography involves using a slow shutter speed to capture the effects of motion or to create specific visual effects. This technique is commonly used in various genres, including landscape, architecture and creative photography.


Here are some tips for successful long exposure photography

Stable Foundation

Use a tripod to ensure your camera is stable during the long exposure. This helps prevent camera shake and ensures sharp images.


Remote Shutter Release

To further reduce the risk of camera shake, use a remote shutter release or the camera’s built-in timer. This prevents you from physically pressing the shutter button and causing vibrations.


Long Exposure


Manual Mode

Set your camera to manual mode to have full control over shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Long exposure shots often require adjustments to all three settings.


Selecting the Right Scene

Look for scenes with movement, such as flowing water, moving clouds or traffic trails. These elements can create dynamic and visually interesting effects during long exposures.


Neutral Density (ND) Filters

Use ND filters to reduce the amount of light entering the camera, allowing for longer shutter speeds even in bright conditions. ND filters are especially useful for daytime long exposure shots.


Compose Carefully

Plan your composition thoughtfully. Long exposures can transform mundane scenes into visually stunning images, but a well-composed shot is essential.


Long Exposure


Focus and Depth of Field

Use manual focus to ensure sharpness in the desired areas. Consider a smaller aperture (larger f-number) to increase depth of field and keep more of the scene in focus.


Experiment with Shutter Speeds

The optimal shutter speed for long exposure photography varies based on the effect you want to achieve. Experiment with different exposure times to find the right balance for your scene.


Watch for Overexposure

Keep an eye on your camera’s histogram to avoid overexposure, especially if shooting in bright conditions. Adjust your aperture or use additional ND filters as needed.


Light Trails

Capture light trails from moving objects by using longer exposures. Experiment with different shutter speeds to achieve the desired effect.


Check Weather Conditions

Overcast days or evenings with interesting cloud formations can add drama and movement to your long exposure shots.



Fine-tune your images in post processing. Adjustments to contrast, colour balance and sharpness can enhance the overall look of your long exposure images.


Safety and Legal Considerations

If photographing in low-light conditions, be aware of your surroundings for safety reasons. Additionally, consider any local regulations or restrictions on photography.


Experiment with Light Painting

Introduce additional light sources such as torches or coloured gels, to create unique and artistic effects during long exposures.

Long exposure photography requires patience and experimentation. As you become more familiar with the technique, you’ll discover creative possibilities and develop your own style.


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