Time-Exposure Basics

Technique

When a scene includes both stationary and moving subjects (for example, a fixed street and moving cars or a camera within a car showing a fixed dashboard and moving scenery), a slow shutter speed can cause interesting effects, such as light trails.

Long exposures are easiest to accomplish in low-light conditions, but can be done in brighter light using neutral density filters or specially designed cameras.

Night Photography

Long-exposure photography is often used in a night-time setting in order to produce a near daytime effect in the photo. By leaving the camera's shutter open for an extended period of time, more light is absorbed, creating a brighter product. If the camera is stationary for the entire period of time that the shutter is open, a very vibrant and clear photograph can be produced.

Light Painting

In this technique, a scene is kept very dark and the photographer or an assistant takes a light source—it can be small penlight—and moves it about in patterns. The light source can be turned off between strokes. Often, stationary objects in the scene are illuminated by briefly turning on studio lights, by one or more flashes from a strobe light, or by increasing the

Water and long exposure

long exposure sharply captured the still elements of this image while blurring the waterfall into a mist-like appearance. Debris in the swirling water in the pool forms complete circles.

Long exposures can blur moving water so it has mist-like qualities while keeping stationary objects like land and structures sharp.

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