11 Simple Long Exposure Photography Tips (AND GUIDE)

The art of photography has never been more prevalent than in the 21st century. With more people having access to smartphones, with cameras. There is now a flood of pictures all over the internet.

But, some photos have more meaning, more defined, having a better resolution than others. What makes one photo differ from another? Better than the other?

Nowadays, cameras shutters are so fast. You can take a motion picture in split second and you’d get a clear and defined picture.

But, in other circumstances, long exposure photography, not only provide a defined picture but also gives a picture an edge over instant pictures. Seeing that it took so much precision to make.

So I’ll be sharing with you some helpful tips you can use when you’re taking long exposure photos. Especially when you’re taking these photos at night.

Tips to follow, to take the perfect picture.

1. Tripod Stand Is A Necessity

how to take long exposure

For every photographer, using a tripod comes in handy. It is the baseline equipment that your work would need. It is so important, that if you were to choose between a 10-stop filter and a tripod stand, then the tripod stand would take prevalence.

For long exposure photos, there is a tendency that you’re likely going to spend some minutes on it. So it is thus essential that the picture is steady, and the tripod is sturdy. It means that you would need for your tripod to balance on the ground. So you don’t have any involuntary shaking that would disrupt the flow of the picture.

When you’re setting up the tripod stand, ensure that the center column has not been extended. And that the strap is so secured, it does not catch the wind.

People may suggest that hanging the camera bag on the tripod stand will help make it more stable. But there are times when hanging the bag might not be a good idea.

More often than not, pictures are taken in windy areas for movement. But if the wind picks up, then rather than stabilize the tripod, the bag will move around and cause the tripod to shake even more.

If you want added weight, the better option will be to place on the camera, a beanbag; this way, you will put more weight on the tripod.


2. Try To Brighten Your Photos

how to take long exposure pictures

Most often than not, the pictures you will be taking will be taken with dense filter, which will affect the quality and brightness of your photo.

What happens is that the filter limits the passage of light to the lens. Which then prevents the autofocus from working properly. Additionally making the photo dull and blurry.

Now, most times you can’t take out the filter from the camera. But you can do something else. You could compose your shot, and focus it, without the filter. Meaning you would have to switch to manual focus, then attach the filter carefully, and when needed.

When you do this, you reduce the stress the lens will have to bear when it wants to focus on the picture. And you also take good filtered photos when you press the shutter button.


3. Cover The Viewfinder Shutter

One thing about long exposure pictures, from its name alone, implies that you’ll be spending a minute to take one picture (or seconds in some cases). It is essential thus that you do not allow excess light in your shutter.

The best way to do this (that reduces the amount of light to enter into the shutter) is either to close the viewfinder shutter. This way there will be accurate metering of light into the shutter.

Covering the viewfinder, also ensures that the stray light from the background does not pilfer into the picture during the prolonged exposure. Unevenly distributing the light. This point may not be so necessary, but it might come in handy someday.


4. Exposure Above 60 Seconds

long exposure settings

It is normal for you to expose your photo for more than 60 seconds. And when you do, then there some things you should do. And the first thing to do is locate and switch to the BULB mode of in your camera.

When you’ve set your camera to BULB mode, then you can open the shutter for as long as you can. And will, without fear of excess light going through the shutter.

Using a remote shutter will enable you to open and close the shutter at will. So that you can control the light during extended photo shoots.

Another good idea you could adopt is to attach a remote release on the tripod. The Velcro is what you use for the release, and it is best done during exposure. The Velcro also stops it from being tossed around by the wind.

Calculating how much time the shutter will be on, also helps. This situation is where your math skills come in handy. In some cameras, calculating the open shutter duration is easy, but hard to do in others. Because each camera adapts and responds differently to light (the NDCalc that is used in android gives a good example).


5. Choosing The Right Condition Matter A Lot

11 Simple Long Exposure Photography Tips

What is the right condition, or rather when is the proper condition? The right condition is that condition that you make the difference in the photo. So the right condition is that condition that adds beauty to the picture.

For instance, for most photographers, the ideal condition is dappled cloud and some strong winds. Long exposure photos are usually moving. So without the wind, you have nothing to move the item you’re capturing. Like the flaunting hair or a spinning treadmill.

Another right condition can be during the day when it is sunrise. Or even the evening during sunset (the idea is taking a picture of the twilight) when the sun is low in the sky.

During this time, the contrast in the cloud is increased, making the picture more beautiful. And the sky would have an exaggerated streaking effect, which you will get in the final image.


6. Select Filters Wisely

what is long exposure

Some filters you use for your photos are not so good for your pictures. They leave a color cast on your photo. And although it can be corrected during the post-processing of the image (if you shoot the photo raw), it would be a great compromise you can do without.

While shooting the picture on raw may enable you to correct mistakes of color cast, it is not always that way. Sometime, the color cast may have irrevocable damage to the photo.

If it is long exposure photos in particular, then the images might also have irreversible damage. But, you can change the fate of the picture by changing the picture from colored to black and white.


7. Photos Taken During Long Exposure Does Not Cover Up Poor Photography

Now, many of you might think that the longer the shot, the better your chances of having a good photo. But sometimes, the long exposure will not make the poor composition of the picture any better.

If the pictures are bad, then it is possible that you would hate the picture, even after post-processing. Looking at the photo in that state might make you frustrated, because of all the effort you have put into it. So the need for learning how to take good photos cannot be overemphasized.


Some other things you could also consider when you’re in the mood for long exposure photo

8. Visit Shooting Site

You would want to know in advance the condition of your location on time. So the best thing for you to do is to scout the location and ensure that everything is for the perfect photo shoot.

Getting the perfect composition of the site, will affect the quality of your image. Taking an image in extended exposure mode will change its view if it is taken with a little level of expertise.

Have a mental picture of what you want, so that you can know how to redesign nature to fit your preference. Let the design be in harmony with your mental picture even when you’re working with moving things.

Now when I said that you should redesign nature to suit your preference, I’m not saying that you should uproot and replant naturally fixed object. I mean, you cannot change the direction of the wind and cloud. Instead, you should use the weather to your advantage.

Do not try to take the photo when the sun has not yet reached your spot. Instead, wait for the sun to get behind the camera and then take your shot.


9. Also, Check The Histogram One More Time

long exposure camera

After you have calculated the shutter speed, to be sure, recheck the histogram. Make sure that the new histogram setting is equal (approximately) to the test shot. And only then will be the shot be accurate.

If the opposite is the case, then adjust it. Either to the left or the right, (depending on the angle of the shutter). Then test the shot again, to check the adjustment.


10. Act Fast When You Get The Perfect Scene

Sometimes the photos are taken of nature, and nature being what they are always on the move. So it is best that you concentrate on the photo so that when the time is right for you to take the shot, you can take the shot. It would last a few moments, so it is better you are alert because before you get that again might be a while.

If the shot is longer than one or two minutes, it is all the more reason why you should concentrate the more. So you don’t have to wait for so long for the perfect scene.


11. Patience Is Vital In These Kinds Of Photos

It is essential that you have patience while waiting for the right scene.

Rushing into taking the photo, because you don’t have the time to wait for the perfect time, might make you take some pictures you might end up regretting.

Once you have scouted for the right location. And have gotten a mental picture, then it would be prudent to wait for the scene to come to light, then you can take the shot.

These are a few steps you could take to making sure that your long exposure shots are not just beautiful but have a touch of professionalism in it.

More often than not, more people think that taking a long exposure photo means that they have taken the best photo. But there are times that even when the photo is taken by prolonged exposure, it might end up being poorly composed.



Producing a landscape long exposure photo is not only beautiful but it also emotional. Getting the right scene, can provoke a lot of emotions that can even spark a passion for photography in another person.

Long exposure photography, especially on landscape scenes can be used as a test of the photographer’s skill. Sometimes it provides excellent accomplishment to the artist. Other times it induces disappointment.

But whatever the feeling, one cannot deny the fact that the experience is thrilling. Visiting beautiful sites, to take the perfect photo.

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