Understanding Long Exposure Photography and the Technique Involved

There are several styles and techniques in photography and one among them is long exposure photography which is one of the coolest ways of taking pictures. You might have come across some stunning shots of fireworks or water flow or the traffic (light) trails. These involve the technique of long exposure photography that create ghostly effects like transparent silhouettes. Lets see what long exposure photography means.

What is Long Exposure Photography?

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Long exposure photography refers to long shutter speeds. Long shutter speed is a specific technique of taking photos with the camera’s shutter open for a long time. This allows more light to enter the camera until the shutter is closed. Technically, the camera reads more data from the scene and gathers more details, creating some extraordinary effects.

Long exposure is often used at night-time, when there isn’t much of natural lighting. However, this technique can also be used during day-time to give foggy/ghostly effect like, flowing water or moving clouds.

Now that you’ve known what long exposure exactly is, lets now understand the technique involved in it.

The Technique

The technique involved in long exposure photography is a scene containing both stationary and moving objects. For instance, lets take the street. There are moving vehicles and non-moving objects like trees and buildings. When the shutter is exposed for a longer period, effects such as light trails of moving vehicles are created.

Here’s how it looks

Features and Accessories Required

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Not that you the technique, lets understand some features and materials required for long exposure photography.

Shutter Speed

To take long exposure photos your camera requires a longer shutter speed, anywhere from 1/4000 second to several minutes or even a hour. If you’re really interested in night photography and long exposure photography, then make sure you get a camera that allows the longest shutter speed.

Manual Mode

While taking long exposure photos, always ensure that you shoot photos in Manual (M) mode. That way, you will have full control over the settings in your camera – like aperture and shutter speed. If you shoot in Auto (A) or Program Auto (P) mode, chances are there that your pictures may come out dark.


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A tripod is very much essential in long exposure photography. There are chances your camera might shake while taking photos. When you let the camera shutter stay open for a long time, you need to ensure that your camera doesn’t shake, else you will lose the quality of your photos or end up with blurred images.

If you don’t have a tripod, then you can place the camera on a flat surface and make sure that it doesn’t shake.

Remote Control

Another accessory you may need is a remote control. You can remotely control your camera in order to avoid pressing the shutter release button to take photos. However, this is not required if you’re careful enough while pressing the shutter release button.

You’ve now known what long exposure is, the technique involved and the important features and accessories you require while shooting photos in long exposure. In my next article, I’ll come with a tutorial to show you how you I managed to get this –

Until then, below are some stunning and great examples of long exposure photography.