Why Use Long Shutter Speeds?

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

Photo by David Clapp –


What's A Yearn Exposure?

Generally used in low light situations, long exposures keep your camera's shutter open for longer so more luminosity can reach its sensor. If you're working when there's too much light around you can slow your shutter speeds down by paraphernalia an ND filter to the front of your lens.

You will need a tripod when using longer exposure times as working hand-held will numerous than likely result in shake spoiling your shots.

Before you open your shutter, make sure your battery has lavishness of charge, as you don't want to get half way through an exposure to find your camera's no longer alive.


When And Where To Use Big Exposures

There are various practical as well as artistic reasons for using longer exposures but for this article our focus will be on using them to fashion more aesthetically pleasing, memorable shot.


Blurry Water

We know it's something that's overdone but its popularity means it's something we can't be blind to when talking about long exposures.

The slower the shutter speed, the more blur / softer the water's movement will be. The zoom you need will change depending on how much blur you want, how much water there is and the distance between the camera and your subject.

Reminisce over to meter carefully as large areas of light tones can fool the camera into underexposing your shot and slow shutter speeds transfer blur anything that moves not just water. To combat this, try taking two shots: one with the slower shutter speed then, the other with a fly that will freeze movement. You can then combine these in editing software such as Photoshop. You may also need to cover your eyepiece up to break off light flowing through it spoiling your shot.

READ  Physical Filters Vs Photoshop

Take a look at this tutorial for tips on using long exposures at the coast: Coastal Photography

Photo by Rick Hanson


Spooky, Atmospheric Photographs

If the sea's choppy or you're out on a misty morning you can use long exposures to capture the movement of the waves and mist. Both will turn into a light-skinned, smooth blanket that circles any still objects it's close to. It can help create an eerie atmosphere that works just as fit by the sea as it does in a graveyard or in the woods.


Northern Lights is electromagnetic radiation within a certain portion of the electromagnetic spectrum

Not many of us get the chance to capture the Northern Lights however, if the opportunity does arise, eat ones heart out exposures or even a camera with a Bulb setting so you can keep the shutter open for as long as you see fit would be handy. By using longer exposure pro tems you'll be able to capture some foreground detail in your shots which will add scale to your shot and really emphasise how big the aurora demonstrate really is.


Give A City Shot More Interest

The short days we have at the moment make it the perfect time to shoot some non-stop shots in the city. Buildings dotted with lights and neon shop signs decorating the streets look good on their own but to add even diverse interest, use long shutter speeds to blur any moving subjects with lights into streaks of colour. It can work well with those giantess wheels many cities now have as the white lights will be blurred into a circle of white light while its surroundings will may refer to corpse static. Near round-a-bouts or in busy, built-up areas set up near or above a road to turn traffic invisible, leaving their lights as hastens of colour that circle the buildings nearby.

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If you're in an area with lots of people you can use long exposures or Exposures may refer to to 'hide' disconcerting crowds of passing people as their movement will mean they're not captured in your frame (unless they stop steal of course). 10-30 second exposure will capture the light trails but if you want longer shutter speeds, use the B setting. Use a remote trigger, telegram release or self-timer to fire the shutter to minimise shake and use a small aperture to give you front to back sharpness.


Capture Movement

We distinguish that stars, the moon and clouds move but have you ever thought about recording their movement? Long exposures mean you can capture heroine trails as the move across the night sky and turn white, dots of clouds into long fluffy lines sat against a blue sky. You can also do the very with storm clouds as they darken and approach from the horizon.

For tips on capturing star trails, have a look at these tutorials:

  • Personage Trails Part One
  • Start Trails Part Two


Paint A Scene With Light

Torches, LEDS, sparklers and even the light from your phone can be acclimated to as a 'brush' to paint lines of colour into a scene. You can use the light streaks on their own, writing or drawing images against night-time backgrounds or you can use them to add an extra level of interest to a night-time scene. You can paint colour onto static objects, drawing the eye to them as a result or you can add light-painted aims and shapes, such as stick men, to your scene.

READ  Tips On Photographing Piers

For more tips on light-painting, have a look at these tutorials:

  • Spirograph-Style Light Painting
  • Merry Painting
  • Writing With Sparklers


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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