Choosing Shutter Speed for Long Exposure Landscapes

When we think of landscape photography, we usually think of mountains and forests. With those in mind, you may think your choice of shutter speed doesn’t really matter. Those mountains aren’t going anywhere, right? Except there’s more to landscape photography than that. Consider clouds, rivers, waterfalls and waves—these elements move constantly. Your choice of shutter speed has a big impact on photos with those elements. Landscape photographer Mads Peter Iversen talks more about this and suggests what shutter speeds you can choose under what circumstances when taking landscape photos:

“Back when I started out in landscape photography, I just slapped a 10-stop ND filter on my lens and long exposed everything. Two minutes, three minutes; the longer the better.”

Iversen basically talks about three different scenarios where your choice of shutter speed matters the most. He talks about recommended shutter speeds when working with water waves, darkness and waterfalls. In these circumstances, shutter speeds need to be deliberate. When photographing a scene that involves moving water or floating clouds, you can give an ethereal look to the image by opting for slower shutter speeds. But if you’re looking to include texture—the cascades of water or the chaos inherent to your scene—a faster shutter speed works best. Iversen also talks about how the distance between the camera and the subject in motion affects the relative speed of the subject and the shutter speed you should opt for.

For darker scenes, play around with your shutter speed, ISO and aperture to achieve an optimal exposure. If there are moving elements in the scene, you’d be better off widening the aperture and raising the ISO. But in case you want to capture motion, or if there are no moving elements, experiment with longer shutter speeds. And for specific use cases like astrophotography, Iversen suggests you go through the 500 rule.

If you want to up your landscape photography game, make sure that you’re using the correct shutter speed. As you can see in the video, it has a great impact in your photos. Be sure to go through the complete video. You will definitely learn a lot regarding shutter speeds in landscape photography.

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