Photography Tutorial

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Long Exposure Photos

14.09.2007 Category: Photography
Exposure means the total amount of light that the sensor of a digital camera receives. Exposure can be controlled with sensitivity of the sensor (ISO), aperture of the lens (f-number) and the shutter speed. Here I discuss the use of slow shutter speed, or in other words the use of long exposure. Long exposure can be used to create very interesting photographs. Long exposure can be used for example to create a bright photo in low light conditions or to create motion blur to the moving elements of the photograph.

Motion Blur with Long Exposure

Water has been blurred by long exposure

Picture 1. Long exposure (slow shutter speed) can be used to create motion blur to the moving elements of the photograph.

I took Picture 1 while the sun was setting. I wanted to to take an interesting sunset photo but the situation felt challenging because the view was very simple. There were no clouds, no boats, nor any other interesting elements around. I needed something interesting into my photo so I decided to include the rock into my photo as a foreground subject and to use long exposure to create motion blurred water. As a result I got silky smooth water which, I think, brings little more interest into the photo.

At Night with Slow Shutter Speed

30 Second shutter speed illuminates the church at night

Picture 1. Slow shutter speed makes it possible to take photos at night.

I took several photos of the church (picture 2) during the day. However, none of them were really that interesting. Maybe I just couldn't figure out the right composition. However, I decided to give this subject a final chance and photograph it at night. It was really dark. There were only some distant city lights and few stars in the sky to illuminate the church. I placed my tripod and ended up using 30 second shutter speed to capture picture 2. Half a minute was needed to illuminate the church properly. Due to the long exposure the photo became little smooth and noisy but still it was clearly better than any of my photos taken during the day.