Daylight Long Shutter Speed Technique

It’s easy to do long exposure photography at night. You just need a tripod and some moving lights. But shooting long exposures during the day is a different ball game. In this brief and informative video, Evan Ranft explains how you can take daytime long exposures:

The Problem Daylight Long Exposures

Too much light may seem like a good thing, and it actually is for some genres of photography. But not for long exposures. When you attempt long exposures, your shutter remains open for a longer than usual, and the excess light can overexpose your images.

how to do long exposure during daylight

How to Correct Overexposure

There are a few ways to correct overexposure. You can either use a faster shutter speed or a smaller aperture. A faster shutter speed tinkers with your long exposure attempts. So the image that you see above wouldn’t have been possible if the shutter speed were any faster (ISO 100, f/8, and 1/5 second). Nor would a smaller aperture if you have a specific depth of field that you wish to achieve. Plus, not all lenses are tack sharp when they’re stopped down.

Daylight Long Exposure Solution

The trick to daylight long exposure photography is to use a neutral density (ND) filter. The results are immediate. Take a look at the image below:

nd filter long exposure

The photo above uses exactly the same settings as before but this time Ranft used a ND4 filter.

To capture even more motion in the same ambient lighting conditions, of course, you may have to use something like a ND8 or a ND6. This will allow you to slow down the shutter speed even more.

When to Use Long Exposure Photography

The technique of long exposure photography can be used in a multitude of situations.

daylight long exposure photography

In the image above, Ranft stayed fixed at a position while the others moved through the shot creating the image blur. You could replicate this shot at a busy intersection for an even more dramatic effect.

daytime long exposures

You may also want to shoot a long exposure of a waterfall that you come across in the middle of the day.

Give it a try! Share your daytime long exposure attempts with the rest of the community.

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