Long Exposure Photography | 14 Tips for Epic Pictures

Long Exposure Photography | 14 Tips for Epic Pictures

January 14, 2020 1 By Peter Engel


Hi everyone. Welcome to the channel. My
name is David Sornberger, or if you haven’t been here before, I’m a travel
photographer and every week I put out video here on YouTube and provide some
photo tips and also some travel tips thrown in. This week’s topic is 14 tips for
Long Exposure Photography. So, without further delay, let’s get started. Long
exposures enable us to see otherwise impossible-to-see worlds with our own
eyes. Our eyes see the world around us by recording moments in time but what our
eyes and brain cannot do is recording an image as motion. So, for example, if you’re
looking at waterfalls and you take one photo of it without long
exposure it’s just a moment in time but when you slow down the shutter speed and
you capture more light it adds that milky flow, that really silky image. If
you look up at the sky at night and you have a long exposure it adds star trails
to the image, something that otherwise wouldn’t be possible for us to see if we
didn’t use long exposure photograph. On the blog post you’ll see a few great
examples of long exposure photography The first one here is from all Oliver Payne
from the United Kingdom and he has a great portfolio. And in this classic
waterfalls example he’s taken the photo of the the Triberger Waterfall. Here’s a
great example of some astrophotography. The darkness of night is ideal for this.
Long exposure for photography and actually it’s the only way to capture an
image. Just to keep the camera shutter open a lot of light needs to touch the
camera’s sensor sensor to make the image so this is a great way to do some
of this long exposure photography. Scrolling down farther on my blog post
is an example of light painting. The photographer’s name here is Luke
Holbrook. Great examples. I love the colours, that night blue across this whole
profile which makes for a really stunning Instagram. The final example I’m
showing you here on the blog is from Mount Kirkjufell in Iceland. I was
there last year. I got a photo of that but in the summer so in the winter it
adds a completely different perspective. The reason I wanted to show you this
one in particular is because of the effect that long exposure photography
has on clouds. Okay, it’s time now to get into the 14 tips for long exposure
photography. Number one is the equipment that you need to get started in long
exposure photography. For the camera you really need a DSLR or a mirrorless
camera. I shoot very happily with a Sony a7r 3 the camera whatever you decide to
use needs to have a bulb mode and the bulb mode needs to allow you to have
shutter speeds that are longer than 30 seconds as in any type of photography
the lens is a really crucial element of the equipment that you use most
photographers including myself like to use a wide-angle lens one of my favorite
lenses is the sony g master 16 to 35 which gets a lot of the scene in view
keep in mind that you’re going to need a lens that will allow you to attach an ND
filter or a neutral density filter to the end of the lens and we’ll talk a
little bit more about ND filters coming up a piece of equipment that is often
overlooked is a good tripod without a tripod long exposure photography really
isn’t possible a human cannot hold a camera steady even for a few seconds and
if there’s any camera movement at all then the image is going to be blurry a
lot of photographers if they’re out in a windy location will bring along like
dried rice and a bag or small sandbags and and weigh down their tripod so it
keeps it stationary I mentioned ND filters a few moments ago
these are a crucial part of long exposure photography ND filters are
required to limit the amount of light that enters your camera and hit your
sensor this is particularly important during the daylight if you don’t limit
the amount of light that gets into your camera you’re going to have an image
that is way overexposed these filters are characterized as ND or neutral
density because theoretically they shouldn’t cast any type of color on your
image however if you buy a cheap or an ND filter for a very low quality you
probably will get a little bit of color of color casting popular brands of ND
filters include li filters as well as format high-tech I’m not being sponsored
by polar but I just purchased the cinema series
quartz line and this fits on to my 24 to 70 I know that’s not a wide angle but
it’s going to suffice for some of the work that I have coming up it also works
as a polarizer what’s great about this company and I’ve used I’ve used their
lenses the cinema series vivid series on the Mavic and I’ve been very pleased so
I’m really happy to try and really excited to try this out on the
mirrorless camera as well very professional has a very sturdy build and
so no matter where you’re going if you’re if you’re throwing this around or
you happen to drop it in the sand or the dirt or wherever you are this will
definitely keep your ND filter protected and like I said these filters are
designed to block light out I don’t know how well you can see the darkness in
that lens but that should do the trick for what I am wanting it to do another
key piece of equipment that you’ll want to use the long exposure photography is
a remote shutter release often often called an intervalometer some cameras
have these built into them I really like this and what I do just attach it to the
camera I have a velcro case the slides into and attaches to the leg of the
tripod so that it doesn’t swing around and cause any sort of motion in the
camera if there’s any sort of gust of wind these are really easy to find and
you can pick one up for a pretty reasonable price and I’ve also included
some links on the blog if you want to head over there to david soren burger
dot-com tip number two is all about the best location for long exposure
photography in long exposure photography location is everything I don’t want you
to limit yourself to the types of examples that I provided to you here in
this episode of course the star trails are awesome to get if you can get them
it’s great to be in an urban setting and tracking the car tail lights down a
motorway it’s great to get those milky waterfalls but there are so many other
creative opportunities out there as well do you have an example of a photo that
you took that was using the long exposure technique and maybe something
that really surprise you something that really gave
you the wow I didn’t imagine I was going to capture such a great photo if you did
I would love for you to comment down below tip number three is installing a
long exposure app for iOS or Android whatever you use one of the last things
that you probably want to do is be frustrated out there in the field trying
to calculate exposure settings on the blog post that goes along with this
video yeah are a couple of links so here is the iOS link it’s just simply called
long exposure calculator so if you go to the App Store and just type that in this
will come up and it’s pretty straightforward nothing flashy about it
but it definitely will save you time and help you capture the correct exposure
the time the shredder speed when you’re using neutral density filters the second
long exposure a calculator smartphone app that I have linked on the blog is
called exposure calculator and that is for Android this app given an exposure
so using aperture the shutter speed the ISO allows the calculation of equivalent
exposures and so definitely a time saver has a decent review this Android app
called the exposure calculator when given an exposure so the aperture the
shutter speed in the ISO Alva allows calculating equivalent exposures and
what’s kind of cool about this is that it’s also possible to hold or sorry to
add one two three nd filters of up to 30 stops each to the calculations so that
seems pretty extreme but I suppose in very bright conditions you might want to
do that tip number four is using clouds to add dimensions to photos clouds give
a timeless presence and add drama to any scene to enhance this effect wait until
the Sun is low enough on the horizon to add some blue hour light and to also
increase the contrast in the image tip number five is simply people using
long exposure photography in busy tourist areas and high traffic areas can
provide some really mesmerizing images I took this photo of a park called the
squares on Van tois which is located right behind the notre-dame Basilica in
in beautiful Paris and I set the tripod up just in behind
here where you can see and what I really like about this image is the dramatic
effect that that was captured in the clouds I think this was about a 25
second exposure and the other piece which really captures my eye is the the
ghostly figures of the people that you can see here in in about three different
locations for me this represents capturing motion it captures the passage
of time and it makes me think about years past when people would also have
been walking in this exact same location tip number six is track the sun’s
position it’s generally a really wide rule to omit the Sun from any type of
long exposure photography and the main reason for doing that is that the Sun
will completely over expose certain parts of your image so to preview the
Sun path you can use a lot of different mobile apps
I’ll use the photo pills app to plan my shots and you can find it on the Apple
Store and also on the Google Play Store okay we’re just about to give you tip
number nine for long exposure photography but before we do that and
it’s going to take a break for a moment if this is your first time to this
channel and you find these tutorials valuable why not hit the like button and
also hit the subscribe button and just by subscribing doesn’t mean that you’ll
always get notified of these new videos so hit the bell as well and hopefully
you will see these new videos once they’re posted tip number nine is
scouting the location before you actually go there a really easy tool
that you can use is just using Google Maps and taking a virtual walk down the
street or along the coastline or wherever the location is using Google
Maps and Google Street View before you leave your house to imagine the
compositions and to plan your compositions is a really valuable idea
and will save you a lot of time once you get to your site tip number seven is to
shoot in RAW format using the RAW format it really gives you the power to correct
the white balance after shooting long exposure photography like I said earlier
some of the cheaper and lower quality neutral density filters will will give a
color to your image which is definitely
something that you don’t want if that does happen though and you’ve shot in
raw and raw format you can use Lightroom for example like I do and and and try to
correct that white balance and it’s much easier to do using RAW format tip number
eight is lower your iso a general rule of thumb that i use is to use the lowest
ISO as possible when doing long exposure photography for most cameras that’s IO
iso 100 the reason i suggest this is when you get up into the higher iso s
you start introducing noise into your images and that’s something you
definitely don’t want tip number 9 is choosing an aperture that’s somewhere
between f8 and f-14 the reason you want to select the Neff stop somewhere in
that range is because you want to produce an image with the sharpest
possible quality tip number 10 is setting the exposure within without the
ND filter on what I usually do when I’m at the location is to start taking some
test shots without the filter on and and get the exposure that works really well
I also use the histogram if you haven’t used the histogram before it’s a really
valuable tool and what I would say is you really want a balanced histogram you
don’t want it shifted too far to the highlights and you also don’t want it
shifted too far to the left just remember that there is no perfect
histogram or one that has the perfect exposure it’s really up to your eye it’s
really up to your judgement and the type of mood that you’re going for it’s now
time to add your ND filter but be careful with really dark and deep
filters you’re not going to see anything through the viewfinder that’s why it’s
so important to do your exposure settings without the filter on
beforehand tip number 11 is covered the viewfinder light leaks don’t normally
occur during regular exposures but when you’re using exposures of up to 30
seconds and Beyond light leaks are a common occurrence and paren leave
artifacts in your image and it really doesn’t matter in the quality of your
camera keep in mind that having a light source behind you so for example street
lights can cause more problems with you because the light is coming into the
viewfinder from be the camera check with your particular
camera because some manufacturers actually have a built-in cover that
prevent this issue from happening if it doesn’t have a built-in cover no problem
a common a common solution to this problem is using something simply like
gaffer tape to block off the the viewfinder from any light getting into
it tip number 12 is act fast because scenes change very quickly be aware that
the perfect conditions to take that amazing shot can last sometimes only for
a few moments the sunset pastel colors or the fiery sunset on the mountains or
the way that the clouds are being really wispy and dramatic can sometimes last
only for a moment in time if your exposure time is one or two minutes you
really only have that one shot only that one opportunity to capture that amazing
image you must also be able to change all of the settings in only seconds
depending on how the light conditions are changing tip number 13 for long
exposure photography it’s calculating exposure I realized that calculating
exposure was dealt with in one of the earlier tips and and downloading a
smartphone app the reason I included this in here is because when you’re
going into the store and wanting to buy an ND filter you need to you need to be
able to have some sort of idea of how much light that you want blocked out and
what that means so whether that is something you’re looking at for and like
an nd8 which is three stops of light or or something like the nd 64 which is
something that I showed you a little bit earlier in the video which which is six
stops this is something that is well worth having a look at or what I do is I
actually have just on my iPhone is just a file with these calculations already
on there so I don’t need to be doing all of these calculations out on location
tip number fourteen simply review and rework most of the time that I spend on
location with long exposure photography is studying carefully each image as it
comes off of the camera sometimes I need to decrease the exposure time other
times I need to increase it or if that’s not working I have to change
nd filter altogether the key to long exposure photography is really to keep
on experimenting so this brings us to the end of our 14 tips for long exposure
photography long exposure photography may be highly technical but it’s also
not an exact science feel free to play out of the settings
and surprise yourself with the results that you get with just a little practice
and a lot of patience you’ll be able to create mesmerizing images I hope you
have found these 14 tips for long exposure photography valuable I would
love to hear what you think about these tips and if you have some other tips
that you would like to share as well so please don’t hesitate to add the
comments below also if you have content ideas topics that you would like me to
cover on this channel please also DM me on Instagram or add some comments below
here on YouTube that’s it for this week I look forward to seeing you in the next
video