Long-exposure photography

Long-exposure, time-exposure, or slow-shutter photography involves using a long-duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the moving elements. Long-exposure photography captures one element that conventional photography does not: an extended period of time.

The paths of bright moving objects become clearly visible—clouds form broad bands, vehicle lights draw bright streaks, stars leave trails in the sky, and water waves appear smooth. Only bright objects leave visible trails, whereas dark objects usually disappear. Boats in long exposures disappear during daytime, but draw bright trails from their lights at night.

Whereas there is no fixed definition of what constitutes “long”, the intent is to create a photo that somehow shows the effect of passing time, be it smoother waters or light trails. A 30-minute photo of a static object and surrounding cannot be distinguished from a short exposure, hence, the inclusion of motion is the main factor to add intrigue to long exposure photos. Images with exposure times of several minutes also tend to make moving people or dark objects disappear (because they are in any one spot for only a fraction of the exposure time), often adding a serene and otherworldly appearance to long exposure photos.

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.night sky photo

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. When using a dense neutral density filter your camera’s auto focus will not be able to function. It is best to compose and focus without the filter. Then once you are happy with the composition, switch to manual focus and put the neutral density filter back on.

Long-exposure photography is often used in a night-time setting, where the lack of light forces longer exposures, if maximum quality is to be retained. Increasing ISO sensitivity allows for shorter exposures, but substantially decreases image quality through reduced dynamic range and higher noise. By leaving the camera’s shutter open for an extended period of time, more light is absorbed, creating an exposure that captures the entire dynamic range of the digital camera sensor or film. 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.

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 aperture.night sky photo

Long exposures can blur moving water so it has mist-like qualities while keeping stationary objects like land and structures sharp. Varying the shutter speed can produce different effects, preserving some of the water’s turbulence or smoothing it out entirely.

Solargraphy is a technique in which a fixed pinhole camera is used to expose photographic paper for a length of time that is typically 6-months but can be as short as a few hours and last well over a year. Depending on the length of the exposure the resulting image shows the path of the Sun across the sky both from dawn until dusk, but also from North to South (or vice versa) between the solstices. Each light streak in a solargraphic image represents one day. Where light streaks are broken or missing indicates obstruction of the sun, which is caused by cloud cover.

Frequently, cameras are made from upcycled aluminum or tin cans which can be made light tight and are generally weather proof for the time needed to make the exposure. Apertures usually range in fractions of a millimeter

One example of this is a single six-month exposure taken by photographer Justin Quinnell, showing sun-trails over Clifton Suspension Bridge between 19 December 2007 and 21 June 2008. Part of the Slow light: 6 months over Bristol exhibition, Quinnell describes the piece as capturing “a period of time beyond what we can perceive with our own vision.” This method of solargraphy uses a simple pinhole camera securely fixed in a position which won’t be disturbed. Quinnel constructed his camera from an empty drink can with a 0.25mm aperture and a single sheet of photographic paper.

On 3 February 2015, a pinhole camera used in a Georgia State University solargraphy art project was blown up by the Atlanta bomb squad, due to reports of it being a bomb. The device, one of nineteen placed throughout the city, had been duct-taped to the 14th Ave. bridge above I-75/85; traffic was shut down for two hours, and the remaining cameras were later removed by authorities.night sky photo

Media related to Long-exposure photography at Wikimedia Commons

Learn More About Taking Professional Photographs

Photography can be a very intimidating hobby to take up if you start with absolutely no knowledge on the topic. You can easily become overwhelmed with all of the information available. The tips below can help you organize the information so that you can take better photos.

Stand close to your subjects to take better pictures. Doing this lets you get your subject in frame, and prevents any interference from the background. It can also give you a better grasp of how to capture the emotions and expressions that define a great portrait. If you stay too far, you could miss important details.

Framing your subject is an important thing to do in photography. If you zoom in the direction of your subject, you can get rid of unwanted things in the photo. This can eliminate unwanted focal points and keep clutter in your photographs at bay.

Get into the habit of adjusting the white balance on your camera. When you take interior shots, the light bulbs can cause a yellowish hue. By changing the white balance feature on your camera this will be reduced and you will notice a whole different quality to your photographs. Implementing this feature will create a look of professionalism in the images you produce.

When you are snapping pictures of people, you can blur the background a bit to get the best effect. If you focus less on the background and more on your subject, you’ll find that the focus will be directly on them. You can do this by simply moving your background even further away from the subject.

Above all, you should enjoy the process of capturing images through photography. It is an invaluable tool for capturing a moment in time that could otherwise be forgotten. If you are having a good time while snapping photographs, you will continue to want to learn and grow in the field.

The more photos you take, the greater chance you will have one that is really great. You can use you memory card to store photographs that you have not had time to develop yet. A large card will also allow you to use RAW format so you can take advantage of the additional flexibility it offers.

When you have your shot lined up and it is time to hit the shutter button, stop breathing for a moment and don’t move a muscle. Even the smallest movement could make your picture come out wrong. Catch yourself before you press the button: hold the camera still and wait to take a breath until after the shot is taken.

Consider finding a club that take pictures, or find someone who is also into photography to buddy up with. You will gain a lot of knowledge from others, but don’t let their ways rub off onto your photographs. Compare the same objects together and notice how each picture differ.

If you like the look of old photographs, pick up a vintage camera. These will give your pictures an old-fashioned look and a historical vibe. They can be found in pawn shops and second hand stores. For an added effect, make use of black and white film that has an ISO 200 rating; it will work quite well for most shots. You can have your photography printed on several types of paper to see which makes the most dramatic impact.

Hopefully what you have gleaned from this article is enough to start organizing your thoughts and getting started on photography. Put these tips into action and you will see great results in your photographs.

Tricks That Will Help You Become A Better Photographer

What a great decision! Of course, there are so many different sources of information that it can be difficult to single out the most useful advice. Listed below are some sensible tips that will help you see a rapid improvement in the quality of your shots.

Stand close to your subjects to take better pictures. Getting in nice and tight allows your subject to fill the frame, which minimizes distractions. You can also pay attention to facial details, which will come in handy, especially if you are doing portrait photography. The important thing to remember is that the small details that turn a good photo into a great one are easily missed when you are farther away from your subject.

To create pictures that resemble things like water colors, sketches, or oil paintings, use digital methods. There are a variety of photo editing programs out there, but all the cool kids use Photoshop. It can immediately change photos into artworks by choosing the medium required within the filter option.

Keep your technique for snapping photographs simple and easy. In many cases, you can take wonderful photos without needing to tinker with all the different color and motion settings on your camera.

If you want your photographs to look professional, you need to take them with a professional camera. Consider investing in a DSLR camera if you really want the highest quality photos. Pro photographers don’t settle for anything less than a DSLR, so neither should you.

Originality is the name of the game when you are trying to become a seasoned photographer. A great photograph should be not only aesthetically pleasing, but should also showcase a personal style. Don’t take the same pictures you’ve seen everywhere over and over millions of times. Find unique angles, and do not be afraid to let your creative side loose.

Your arms should be positioned close to the body when you hold the camera, and your hands should be on both the bottom and the sides to keep the camera steady. This will minimize shaking and produce clearer shots. With your hands positioned at the underside of the camera and below the lens, it will help prevent accidentally dropping the equipment.

Now that you’ve read this article, you should have some ideas for how to improve your photography skills. You can always come back to this list if you need to. If you keep up the hard work, you can elevate your photography to the next level.