Whether you know the term or not, you've most likely come across the breathtaking photos it offers. Long exposure photography is reminiscent of comfortably surreal paintings and soothing works of art that compel the viewer to stop and ponder for a while.
In this part of the photography realm, landscapes consist of moving oceans, dreamy horizons, and soft waterfalls. In a nutshell, long exposure uses slow shutter speeds to sharply capture stationary objects and blur moving ones. This creates a dreamy and even-looking effect, something that is highly valued by photographers and enthusiasts alike. Here are five tips on how to master this exciting photography genre.
Have the right equipment
Thankfully, long exposure photography doesn't demand lots of complicated equipment. However, there are a few very important tools you should have before you start experimenting:
- a sturdy tripod will stop you from taking very blurry images
- a camera that has a manual mode will let you control the length of your exposures
- a cable shutter release will help you take photos without touching your camera (which will prevent unnecessary blur)
- a neutral density filter will darken your photographs enough to allow for slower shutter speeds. If you plan to take photos during the day, this filter will significantly improve your results.
Experiment with settings
Long exposure might seem intimidating because of all the settings you have to control, but it mainly depends on experimentation. Knowing the basics of every setting will help you understand your preferences.
Shutter speed: This depends solely on the look you're going for. The smoother you want your moving subjects to look, the slower the shutter speed should be.
ISO: Typically, your ISO number should be low unless you're taking photos at night.
Aperture: The more details you want to capture, the smaller your aperture should be. A small aperture is created by larger numbers, so experiment with apertures like f/11, f/16, etc., until you find the sharpness that appeals to you.
Go out when the weather is favorable
Once you've chosen a great location, consult the weathermen! Taking photos on a gloomy or windy day will inevitably affect your photographs. On the other hand, going out on a pleasantly sunny day will help you experiment and understand your preferences better.
Find locations online
If you're still not sure about the location you'll choose and you can't travel at the moment, use Google Earth to find interesting places in your area. This will make the location scouting process even more exciting and help you find stunning locations for your future shoots. You might even discover a local place you didn't know about before!
Shoot in RAW mode
Shooting RAW will preserve your image's data and makes the editing process easier. RAW will allow you to restore valuable highlights and shadows. With it, you'll be able to enhance your photographs even more. JPEG, on the other hand, won't preserve as many details and will make the editing process a little trickier. If you want to have full control over your images, I'd recommend sticking to RAW.
Long exposure photography is ideal for anyone who appreciates soft yet impactful photographs of nature. If you're a fan of surreal images of landscapes, this genre is definitely something you should experiment with. The more you practice with various settings and locations, the closer you'll get to discovering your unique long exposure style.
Be persistent, don't give up, and keep looking for inspiration everywhere!
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