When taking photographs, a fast shutter speed of 1/60th of a second or faster is most often desired in order to minimize any visible lens and camera shake. However, when used properly, long exposures of a second or longer can create unique and dramatic landscape photos. In order to create a successful long exposure, you just have to follow a few of these simple rules.
1. Use a Tripod.
The most important tool when creating long exposure photographs is a sturdy tripod. They are essential for photographs where the lens may be open for extended exposures.
2. Try using a small aperture.
Use a small aperture, such as F/16 – F/32, to limit the amount of light reaching the lens, and to ensure that the entire photograph is in sharp focus. Limiting the amount of light allows you to decrease the shutter speed, increasing the potential for interesting motion effects.
3. Don’t be afraid to get close to water.
While always maintaining secure footing, don’t be afraid to put your tripod directly in coastline water. This will allow you to create an interesting foreground, and capture the interesting effects of moving waves over rocks and sand.
4. Use filters to increase exposure time.
If you can’t get a small enough aperture to achieve the desired shutter speed, use screw-on filters that will limit light. Circular Polarizers and Neutral Density filters can both limit the amount of light intensity by up to ten stops.
5. Use a timed or remote shutter release.
When pressing the camera shutter release, you can slightly move the camera causing an unacceptable blurry image. By using the built-in timer or a remote release, you don’t touch the camera when taking the picture. Some cameras also allow for mirror lock, which prevents the mirror from moving when taking the photo, which can also cause a blurry image.
5. Try different shutter speeds.
Try using a variety of shutter speed and aperture combinations. You’ll need to experiment with different shutter speeds to find an optimal level of image blur depending on the subject. Fast moving, swirling waves will require less time to create significant blur and you’ll have to develop your own style and preference for long exposure photography.
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