Long Exposure Photography

By Geoff Harris

Creative Photography, Long exposure, Motion Blur

Most of the time when we’re taking photographs we try to use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze any movement and prevent camera blur, either from subject movement or from camera shake.

But for more creative photography, it can also be fun to experiment with long exposure photography, and purposely create some kind of motion blur in our photographs.

This is created by either subject movement or from deliberately moving the camera. The most common use of long exposure photography movement is panning – (see my Previous blog )

Sometimes we may combine both subject and camera movement, by panning on a moving subject, such as a bird in flight, or a speeding cyclist.

Creative Photography, Long exposure, Motion Blur

At other times you might prefer to keep your camera still (usually on a tripod) and use long exposure photography to record a moving subject. There are lots of different possibilities – flowers blowing in the wind, moving people making ghost like figures in a static landscape, or flowing water creating a soft blur of white.

Creative Photography, Long exposure, Motion BlurHowever, in daylight it’s not always easy to get a shutter speed long enough to record any blur. But it can be done!

First, make sure that your ISO is set to its lowest number. Then check that you have a small aperture, such as  f/16, f/22 or even f/32 .

If you still can’t get a long enough shutter speed, you may already have the answer in your camera bag. A polarising filter, which is normally used to saturate colours, will block enough light to give you a shutter speed about two stops longer – so your original setting of say 1/15 sec will become ¼ sec with a polariser.

Still not long enough? In that case, you will need a different type of filter, known as a neutral density filter. This reduces the amount of light which reaches your camera’s sensor, without affecting the colours in the scene. ND filters come in different “strengths”, with darker ones being more effective than lighter ones at reducing the light, and therefore giving you a long exposure.

In Long exposure photography you may find yourself using a shutter speed of several seconds, so a good stable tripod is essential!

If you truly want to mater long exposure photography consider taking Tony Worobiec’s Low light Photography CourseTony’s creative photography is stunning and he is a real master of these techniques.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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