You're all familiar with beautifully blurred photographs of nature. As you can see in the example above, long exposure photography transforms our surroundings into dreamy, moody environments that inspire and impress those who take the time to observe them. Anyone can take photographs like the one above; all you need is a few handy tools and a big imagination. Here are a few tips on what you need to master long exposure photography.
Obtain the Right Tools To have a smooth photoshoot, you'll need to use a sturdy tripod, a camera with manual features, a cable shutter release, and a neutral density filter. Though some of these tools, like the filter, are optional (especially if you're planning to take photos at night), they'll make the shooting process smoother and less stressful to handle.
Go out When the Weather Is Kind Since stability is an important part of long exposure photography, going out on a windy day won't be helpful. If you're an absolute beginner in this genre, go out on a day when the weather isn't particularly cruel. This will give you enough time and space to experiment with a variety of preferences without being interrupted by elements all the time.
Understand the Most Important Settings
Long exposure photography depends on a few important camera settings: shutter speed and aperture. Both of these settings will have a significant impact on your results, so keep in mind that experimentation is highly important. The more you practice with a variety of different settings, the closer you'll get to finding your unique style.
In a nutshell, a slow shutter speed will equal to smoother-looking subjects, and a fast shutter speed will quickly capture subtle movements. Since there is a whole range of shutter speeds you can choose from, experiment with a few until you get the look you want. Some photographers like very smooth photographs of rivers, for examples, while others prefer waterfall shots that have a slight sharpness to them. It's completely up to you!
Aperture helps capture details in the distance and details close to your camera. The more you want to include (without blurring foregrounds or backgrounds), the smaller your aperture, or f-number, should be. Small f-numbers are determined by large numbers such as f/16, for example. Again, experiment with this until you get results that are as blurred or as sharp as you want them to be.
Preserve More Image Data with RAW Files
Shooting RAW will allow you to edit your photographs smoothly. While JPEG loses a lot of image data, RAW preserves an abundance of valuable details that can be restored in the editing process. Though this is recommended by many professionals, it's optional, especially if your camera doesn't create RAW files. Unless the loss of image data greatly worries you, don't focus on this too much.
Even if you're not a landscape photographer, experimenting with long exposure will compel you to stay in the present moment and enjoy your surroundings. Give it a go and share your results with us! We'll feature our favourite submissions on Facebook. :)