Long exposures are fascinating and often artistic photographs and allow us a glimpse into a hidden world beyond our perception of time. One speaks of a long exposure when the exposure time is from 1/30 to several seconds / minutes. This week we want to introduce you to the world of this great type of photography. These are the best tips:

What do I need for a long exposure?

The most important utensil is a tripod! It should be very heavy to avoid camera shake. The slightest movement during the exposure can blur your subject and ruin the photo. For long exposures over 30 seconds, a cable or radio shutter release is also indispensable, since most cameras allow a maximum exposure time of 30 seconds in their bulb function.

Painting with light: to work with long exposure times during the day, you should also use neutral density filters (ND filters, also called gray filters), which act as a kind of sunglasses for the lens. This way it is possible to achieve slow shutter speeds even when there is a lot of light.

Requirements for a long exposure

Since the slightest vibrations can render your photo unusable, it is recommended that you use a remote shutter release or activate the timer. You should also activate the mirror lock in your camera to have the mirror flip up before you actually take the photo. This also eliminates the risk of camera shake caused by the mirror mechanism. Correct manual focusing can also help you to achieve the perfect and desired sharpness. Many cameras have a digital magnification in the live view, with which you can check whether the focus is on the right spot.

Most important for you and other professional photographers, however, is to select the right exposure time. Depending on what you want to show in your photo, you’ll often need to try different exposure times. For example, if you want to photograph moving cars with long streaks of light, or a busy square deserted, a high exposure time is appropriate. However, if you want to capture the movement of people to suggest a dynamic of motion, it is better not to expose longer than 2 seconds.

The correct aperture setting determines depth of field and brightness. You should stop down by two stops to get a good result. This also ensures that the sharpness is given. For the ISO value, it is common not to go higher than ISO 200. Optimal is a value of 100 or if possible 50. With higher values there is more or less noise because of the often long exposure time.

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Long exposure for professional photographers – painting with light
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