Long Exposure Photography Tips

Image by Pinhole Nico on flickr

Over the past few years long exposure photography has become extremely popular, especially for landscape photography. With the increase of ND (natural density) filters available on the market, everyone seems to be experimenting with this new piece of equipment. Just like any trend, there's a correct and wrong way to approach it. We are going to provide some tips to help you get the most out of your long exposure photos.

1. Composition is Key

You need to pay attention to composition for every photo you take, but for long exposure photography composition is even more important. You need to spend time setting up and taking the shot, so be sure to get the best possible angle or you'll be continually frustrated trying to get a good photo.

2. A Tripod is Essential

To get a clear picture, you'll need a tripod to hold your camera still. Your camera will be open for an extended period of time and it is physically impossible to hold it still using your body. Some photographers recommend using a sandbag to add extra weight during windy conditions.

3. Adjust Focus Without the Filter

The ND filter that you'll be using will prevent the autofocus function from working because there won't be enough light for the camera to accurately adjust the focus. Therefore you'll have to adjust the focus without the filter and then carefully slip on it over the top once you are ready to take the shot.

4. Choose Your Subject Matter Carefully

To replicate that surreal feel that you see in a lot of long exposure landscape photos you will have to consider what is going to be captured in your picture. Without movement such as clouds, wind or water, the end result may fall short of your expectations. Shooting at around sunset or sunrise is a great start, but don't be afraid to experiment.

5. Shoot at the Lowest Possible ISO

To prevent “hot pixels” and ISO noise, you'll need to set your camera to the lowest ISO setting. While an image may appear fine on your camera's LCD screen, once you open and enlarge it on your computer you may notice some ISO noise. Post-processing techniques may be able to save the image, but you should aim to get the best possible image you can.

This video provided by WeeklyPhotoTips on Youtube is a great recap and tutorial that you should watch if you plan on getting into long exposure photography. It covers everything we've listed and more.

We hope that this article has clarified and explained a few things to you regarding long exposure photography. Now get out there and start putting our advice to use!