Thursday, October 1, 2009

Time for Long Exposure

One of my favorite things to do is take long exposures. Here are a few simple tips.

1. Use a tripod.
The use of a tripod is a must when shooting any type of long exposures as even the slightest vibration will cause blur. Even pressing the shutter release can cause blur. If you don't have a tripod, you can also use something sturdy to set your camera on, like a newspaper stand or a car roof.

2. Choose the right Aperture.

It all depends on what you are trying to capture, but play around and find your best setting. The larger aperture (less light will pass through shutter) the longer exposure will be needed and the less minor movements will be noticed. For instance, if I am taking a 10 second exposure with a very high aperture of a street scene and I have my camera set on a newspaper stand, the vibration from pushing the shutter release won't register any vibration because the aperture is only allowing a small amount of light.

3. Be Creative.
The image to the left is not simply a long exposure, I wanted to show the subjects, but didn't want to take away from the beautiful street scene. So this was a 2 second exposure. For the first second the subjects were in the view, and the second second they jumped out of the way. It creates a unique illusion. The point is simply be creative.

4. Don't just use for night shots!

When I talk about long exposures, most people automatically assume I am talking about low light situations or night photography, but it is useful in all kinds of different situations. The image on the right was shot in the middle of a bright sunny day, but by slowing down the shutter speed, I was able to make the water look smoother. The key to daytime long exposures is make sure the aperture is as high as possible so you don't over expose your photo. You can also use a filter to reduce the amount of light reaching your sensor.

5. Take a ton of photos and bracket.
We are talking about digital photography, use it to the fullest! Take as many photos as you can. Play around with aperture and shutter speed. Use aperture priority or shutter speed priority to help learn. Study the details of the pictures that turn out good. If the lighting is right, check what the shutter speed and aperture are so you can learn from your success and failures. Bracket your photos, meaning take three or four in a row each at different shutter speeds or each at different apertures.

I'll cover more on this subject another time, until then . . . keep shooting!
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