Tips For Long Exposure Photography

Tips For Long Exposure Photography

Dark Photography. Long exposure photography is the most origin photography genre, in terms of photography technique. The first photo that had been made in 1873 has taken in 8 hours exposure time. He was Louis Jacques Mande Daquerre who took the first picture. He used obscure camera to take the first picture in the world.

Nowadays, photography has found much modern photography picture recorders (censor and negative thin film) which are able to save an image 1/8000 or faster but it does not reduce photographer interesting and attraction to learn and capture a picture in a long exposure photography technique especially for landscaper photographer. It is not only classics and interesting idea but also produce a different photo with a different mood that can not be produced by simple photography technique.

The question remains are: What we have to do to take a long exposure photo? and How do to do it? The Lowest of modern camera ISO and Aperture Value only able to set the shutter speed at slow speed in cloudy condition. It is almost impossible to take a long exposure photo without additional accessories and gear which are able to reduce the amount of light through the lens to the camera sensor. (read: Exposure).

Waterfall Photography Slow Speed
Slow Speed Photo (1/2 second)

Black and white photography
Long Exposure Photo ( 30 Second)

A short Introduction and Background.

1. Low ISO setting
ISO or International Standard Organisation is a unit of light censor sensitivity (read: ISO). In basic Digital single lens Reflection (DSLR) camera have ISO at 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 until 6400. Those values are represent 1 Stop unit. High ISO means high sensitivity of light but produces high noisy also. High ISO will make your camera set the time exposure in high shutter-speed. My suggestion is Low ISO using. It help your exposure time set at low speed. Set your Camera ISO into the lowest value 100 but if you have professional DSLR Camera, you may set it at 50 ISO. The Lowest ISO that I ever seen was ASA 6 but it was FILM on analog camera. ASA 6 take 4 stop lower that ASA or ISO 100.

2. Small aperture opening
Aperture or Diaphragm is the gate of light in lens which regulate the light intensity coming the camera sensor. The values of aperture in number from the biggest opening to lowest opening are 1.0, 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, 11, 16, 22, 32. Those are 1 stop series also. Small number mean big aperture opening which make high intensity of light coming to camera. In addition of small number aperture make the shutter speed in high speed value. Base on experience, 8.0 and 11.0 Aperture number is good aperture number. But you may use smallest then it, 16 or lower (read: Aperture).

There is another effect on your picture which influence by the aperture opening. Low number have a small area of Depth of Focus (DOF). If you want to take a long subject strike to your camera mount, you have to use a high value of aperture for making your picture focus at all object. DOF  is not only determined by Aperture Value but also Lens Focal Length.

3. Tripod Usage.
Taking photo in long exposure time need a strong base to hold the camera steady. Every vibrations and disturbance will be recorded to your photo. Long exposure technique need a heavy or medium weight tripod when shooting with a 6-stop or higher stop. Without medium weight tripod, your camera are easy to get shaken photo.

Base on weight, There are three kind of tripod. Light tripod, Medium tripod and Heavy tripod. I suggest to get a heavy tripod as your tripod priority. It will be able to reduce camera shaken from any disturbance of wind, water (if you put your tripod in water such as river and beach) or other possible vibrations but you have spend more money to get this one.

Ball head tripod. Actually there are two kind of tripod base on their head and a good landscaper should use the ball head tripod. This tripod gives us more angel possibility and easier angel setting

4. Natural Density Filter.
In sunny day, taking picture in morning and noon the camera generally set in ISO 100, F/11 shutter speed is around 1/120 second until 1/500 second. The intensity of light have to be reduced until 9 stop or more. This condition will make the shutter Speed of camera slowed until 30 second. It is enough for beginning the long exposure shooting. Natural Density Filter is used to reduce light intensity. This item has their series also. ND-2 (1 stop), ND-4( 2 Stop), ND-8(3 Stop), ND-16(4 Stop), ND-32(6 Stop), ND-400 (8, Stop) and ND-1000 (10 Stop). Some ND filter has addition effect such as increasing several color density on picture. Some of ND filter increase Red Color, Blue and sometimes magenta on your image. ND Filter quality is determined by it trademark and price (read: ND Filter).

5. Post processing
After the explanation of ND Filter usage and effect, Long Exposure photography can not avoid to use post processing software such as Photoshop, Lightroom, or your camera’s default software. This software will return the origin color of picture, reduce some of unimportant object and noisy or change the color become infrared, False color or Black and white effect

6. Manual Focus
Dear author, i have a very expensive lens and camera, why i have to choose manual focussing method. The good answer is manual focusing help the photographer to choose what will be the main object of our photo. Auto focus sometimes limit the photographer by several point on their camera, especially for priceless camera such us mine.

The other reason is using high density filter such us 6-stop or higher stop will disturb camera auto-focus system. Base on my experience, I shoot on manual focus mode is better then using manual focus. I set the focus without any filter to get a clear image on my Camera LCD and then put my filter carefully on the lens.

7. Viewfinder.
It is important to close the viewfinder when taking a picture. Exposing the censor in will record all of coming light. Camera viewfinder is not correctly closed when the camera record a photo. For Canon camera there a small viewfinder cover which stick on your strap. Nikon Camera Including their item in your camera box, so you need to check it first.

8. Shoot in RAW
I give no explanation about this but a photographer shoot in RAW. (read: shoot in RAW)