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Long exposure photography tips and set up

Milky Way above a tulip field

Long exposure photography has become very popular in the last couple of years. Here are some practical tips on how to get spectacular results.

London tower Bridge

Long exposure photography is a genre in photography that is often associated with fine art photography, due to the surreal and otherworldly effects long exposure photography can bring to your photos. Have you ever seen an image of a waterfall or ocean where the water looks soft and silky, almost unreal or perhaps you’ve seen an image in a city where cars are turned into long red lines? Maybe you’ve even thought these were heavily manipulated. The truth is, it’s actually a rather easy technique made possible with the use of a long shutter speed. After finishing this article you will have learned how to create stunning images by using the technique called Long Exposure Photography.


Things you need:

  • Camera

  • Tripod

  • ND filters ( no need when its dark enough)

  • Remote

Taking long exposure photographs:

  1. First of all, find a subject that you like and just walk around the area and look for the angle that you like, before setting up your tripod.

  2. Watch the weather are there enough relatively fast moving clouds? If you’re shooting and there are no clouds then usually it’s no use shooting long exposure with filters

  3. If you are all set up, make sure your subject is perfectly in focus and take a test shot in the aperture priority mode, dont forget to swith of stability

  4. Set the lens to manual focus and go into bulb mode. Use the same settings that you used in aperture priority mode. If you used ISO 100 and f/7.1, make sure that you use these same settings in bulb mode.

  5. Mount the filters to the lens. After you’ve taken a meter reading and focused, I finally put the filters in front of the lens. Always in this order because the ND filters are usually so dark that the camera can’t measure any light with the filters on

  6. Calculate your exposure time , you could download one of the many apps available

My set up:

  1. put the tripod stable and the camera on

  2. choose composition

  3. take a test shot in A mode

  4. focus and swith to manual focus

  5. turn of stability

  6. calculate the exposure time with your type of filter with an app

  7. put the filters on

  8. take the shot with your phone or remote controller


For Long Exposure Photography a tripod is essential.

Dealing with shutter speeds of many seconds, or even minutes, it’s simply impossible to take pictures handheld and get a sharp image.

In general, I always suggest using a tripod, especially when dealing with shutter speeds longer then 1\60 sec. You can find inexpensive tripods at mostly any photography store. While it might be tempting to get a cheap one you should consider investing in a more solid tripod, as it’s a very important tool that you want to last. In the long run, you will save money on purchasing quality right, trust me, I’ve broken some cheap ones!

ND Filters

Another helpful piece of equipment is a Neutral Density Filter. While these aren’t essential if you’re photographing in the dark, they are heavily used by landscape photographers to achieve even longer exposures or during the daytime. These filters vary in strength so choosing the right filter determines the effect you will get on your photo.

ND Filters comes in two variations: screw-on and square filters that are placed into a filter holder.

you might have heard these terms been used before: 2 Stop, 6 Stop or 10 Stop. These are the description of the strength of the filter and the amount of stops tells how much you can increase the shutter speed.

Very popular among many, especially those who just got introduced to Long Exposure Photography, is the10 stop. If you wish to achieve silky water or streaking clouds etc. the 10-stop filter will let you use a shutter speed that is 1,000 times longer than originally. In other words, it reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor with 1,000! That’s pretty impressive, right? Instead of using a shutter of 1/60 you can do 16,7 seconds!

Remote control:

the final piece of equipment I recommend is a shutter release. If you’re doing exposures that are less than 30 seconds it is not essential but I do suggest always using one to reduce unwanted vibration.

Don’t worry; you do not need to buy a shutter release that’s more expensive than your camera. For this kind of shots, it’s fine with a simple remote.

Urk Lighthouse


Even at low ISO, super long exposures can introduce noise in the form of hot pixels. You may not be able to see these when viewing the results on the LCD screen of your camera, but when viewed at 100 % on your computer monitor, you may find a number of bright red/green/blue pixels in your image.

An effective way to remove them is to take an exposure of identical length, at the same ISO, with the lens cap on. The hot pixels will be identical in all shots, almost like a finger print of your sensor, so by replicating the exposure with the lens cap on, you will generate an entirely black image, with the same hot pixels, to subtract away from your chosen image during post-processing


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