Long exposure photography #99

Did you ever try Long Exposure (LE) photography? If not, experiment, it is time to do it! LE provides you with a whole new dimension of photography. Everything moving, such as clouds, water, tree branches become wonderfully fuzzy and silky smooth. You will record something nobody can see by naked eye! It is like a miniature time capsule. Fascinating! It adds mood and atmosphere to your photography. By definition the exposure must be minimum 30 seconds. The only way to do it to have a neutral density filter.

Now let’s see how does it work?


30 sec, f/16, ISO 100, 16mm. B+W ND110 77mm (10 stop neutral density) filter

Notice the fuzzy and smooth clouds and tree branches.

Now the same shot without 10 stop neutral density filter.


1/45 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm

See the difference? Let’s do another comparison.


120 sec, f/22, ISO 1oo, 16mm, B+W ND110

See how nice silky smooth is the creek.

Now check out the same shot without the filter.


1/25 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm

Finally, here is my favorite LE comparison so far.


30 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm, B+W ND110

See the beautiful and expressive silky smooth clouds and creek. Nice, isn’t it?

The next shot is done with no filter.


1/80 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm

Not bad however this shot is missing that extra mystic and magic quality.

Next, what do you need for LE photography?

1. Tripod

2. Wide angle lens, minimum 24 mm or wider IMHO.

3. 10 and/or 6 stop filters. Various screw on or filter holder system brands available, eg. B+W, Lee, Hitech, Hoya, etc. You may stack a 10 stop and a 6 stop filter. More than two filters may deteriorate picture quality.

4. Landscape with moving elements, eg. clouds, water, grass, tree branches. The best possible location is probably the seashore. Unfortunately I am pretty far from it…  😦

5. Golden hour, dawn, dusk. You can’t do it at noon so get up really early! Windy weather after a storm is a plus.

6. Small aperture, eg. f/16-f/22 and minimum 30 seconds exposure up to minutes.

7. Make your composition off filter. You won’t see anything when the filter is on!

8. Calculations. First, check exposure time without filter, then adjust exposure 10 or whatever stop plus after switching to manual mode. Always use the same aperture! Apply filter.

9. Use self timer mode or cable/electronic exposure release. Don’t touch the camera during exposure!

10. Experiment! Add extra 1-2 stop. Trial and error.

11. At home use software to tweak your best shots. Perhaps convert it to black and white.

That’s it folks.

First it may look complicated but with time it will become your second nature.

See more info below on #72 Variations on a subject


Finally, some great sites for further reading:




Don’t hesitate, let me know your personal experience!


6 thoughts on “Long exposure photography #99

  1. I’m not sure I agree that the minimum shutter speed needs to be 30 seconds, or that you can only do it with an ND filter, but other than that, you have some great images here! I really need to get my hands on an ND filter for some daytime long exposures.

    • Thanks for your critical comment. True, the minimum 30 seconds exposure time is not necessary, however it helps to get that dreamy effect.
      I’m curious what other method can you use to do LE besides applying an ND filter?
      Try LE! It is fun and you never know in advance what cool shot you’ll come up with. 🙂

  2. I always do long exposures at night, albeit mostly in the form of light painting. It’s already dark, so you don’t need the ND filter. Focusing can be difficult though, you don’t have the luxury of focusing and then attaching a filter; unless you wait a whole day. You could have a look at my blog if you were interested in some of my examples.

    • Hi Dan. Like your site, especially the night shots with the light painting and the LE bridge shots. I never tried light painting yet, looks like a lot of fun. True, no need for ND filter at night :). Where can you get welding glass to make your own filter?

      • If you have already got a 10 stop ND filter, there’s no need for welding glass, the optical quality is worse, and there’s terrible colour casts. But I got my welding glass, and filter ring from eBay.

      • I was just curious and probably the welding glass is much cheaper especially from eBay. In some cases that terrible color cast may give the extra touch 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s