Tips for Better Long Exposure Photography

If you’ve dabbled with long exposures but still aren’t getting the results you’re after, you might just need a few tweaks in your process. In this video, photographer Deborah Sandidge talks extensively about long exposure creativity and the use of various tools in order to shoot great quality images in low light. In this video she discusses the use of tools such as color enhancing filters, polarizers, and variable neutral density filters:

Essential Tips for Improving Your Long Exposures

  1. Get a sturdy tripod.
  2. Shoot in RAW.
  3. Shoot during the blue hour day. That’s the time after the sun has gone down and there is a bit of twilight still in the sky. The sky is predominantly blue at this time.
  4. Use the technique of blending multiple exposures to capture the essence of the passage of time.
  5. Use the light painting to add a bit of interest to your image.
  6. Try capturing light streaks, which look especially interesting during the blue hour.
  7. Use a color enhancing filter, such as the Hoya FL-W, to enhance violet and gold tones.
  8. Sandidge recommends using a 24–70mm lens.
  9. Use a small aperture to capture star-burst effects.
  10. Set your white balance to 4000–5000 degrees kelvin when shooting long exposures at twilight.
  11. Use a reverse neutral density filter when the sun is lower on the horizon.
  12. Don’t leave too much blank sky in your compositions. Crop and leave out anything that’s boring.
  13. Use a cable release or mirror lock-up with exposure delay to reduce camera movement.
  14. Use a polarizing filter.

Here are some awe-inspiring images that Sandidge exhibited during the session:

long exposure landscape

Santorini. Greece

long exposure clouds

Evolving Clouds

long exposure at blue hour

Alexander Bridge, Paris

long exposure architecture

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

Check out the rest of the video for some more real world tips for mastering long exposure photography in almost any lighting conditions.

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