This entertaining tutorial brought to us by Digital Rev demonstrates some creative ideas along with the basics of long exposure photography. This shoot becomes really fun as the narrator begins experimenting with flash, motion blur, and other techniques, combining them with the stillness of a long exposure to create interesting juxtapositions between his subjects and their environment:
When creating these images, the essential equipment includes a a camera with a “bulb” shutter speed setting, a lens (naturally), a sturdy tripod, and a shutter remote. If it’s daytime, you’ll also want a neutral density filter – this is an uncolored filter that covers the front of your lens, cutting down the amount of light getting through and enabling longer exposures than would otherwise be possible.
In a pinch, a polarizing filter will also help, although it will change the look of the photo slightly (particularly on water, glass, and in the sky). In case you’re wondering, those are Cokin filters that he uses in the video.
Getting the proper exposure on these shots takes a bit of experimentation. It is possible to do the math and calculate exactly what settings you should use, but long exposure times are extremely forgiving, and most of the time you can go with your gut (and a few test shots).
Depending on the lighting conditions, how fast the scene is moving, and how much blur you’re going for, exposures can be anywhere from seconds to hours; there is no formula to get it perfect the first time. It’s a technique that requires some trial and error on the photographer’s part, which really is the appeal. Long exposure photography is a completely different way of looking at a scene, demanding that we see not only things as they are, but as they will be.
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