7 Common Questions about Long Exposure Photography Answered

Long Exposure Photography

Are you interested in long exposure photography? Not so many photographers are interested in this part of photography but once you get started, you will totally like it. Unlike other aspects of photography, this one requires a long learning period. You will have to be patient and probably needs a lot of practice before you can get better.

The advantage of long exposure photography is that you can be able to see the world around you in a whole different way once you master it. Your photography will be better and you can quickly grow from an amateur to a professional photographer when you learn the right way to do long exposure photography.

In this article, I will answer all your questions about long exposure photography. You will learn everything you need about long exposure and the correct way to do it.

Long Exposure Photography

Read on to find all the answers you need about long exposure photography.

1. What is Long Exposure Photography Anyway?

Most beginners don't know what long exposure photography is all about. This type of photography involves any photography where you need a tripod. It takes longer time and hand holding your camera may not always lead to the desired result irrespective of the tricks you apply. Whenever you put your camera on a tripod, you are doing a long exposure.

Long exposures are usually done at night or when you need to use special filters. However, in most cases, when most people think about long exposure photography, their mind will go to using ND filters to block stop light in order to keep the shutter open for a longer time.

Long Exposure Photography

2. What Subjects are Best for Long Exposures?

It can be confusing when you are just starting out, you will want to expose for almost everything. However, from experience, the three main subjects in which you can apply long exposure on include:




I will explain this in detail:


Water is probably the most common subject for long exposure photography. With filters, you can get smooth-looking water. When you apply long exposure with filters on waterfalls, you will get marshmallow or silky look. The function of filter in this instance is to show how the water moves on beaches and to capture the movement of the water.

Long Exposure Photography


Using your filter, you can easily capture the movement of the clouds as they move gallantly through the sky. If you look at most cityscapes, you will mostly see blurred clouds in most images of city architecture. This was done using long exposure and filters.

Long Exposure Photography


Long exposure can help you get a blurred effect of people that are moving as far as they are not coming towards you or moving and stopping at the same time.

3. What Are ND Filters and What Are they used For?

If you are talking about long exposure photography, you must definitely come across ND filters. This type of filter is one of many filters that are used for photography. The full meaning is Neutral Density filter and it is normally attached to the front of the lens to block out some of the light.

ND filters come in different density. Additionally, you can be able to achieve a longer exposure when you have a darker filter. These filters are called Neutral Density because they have no tint unlike other filters that give you a color cast.

4. How Do I Know How Much Exposure Time I will Need?

This is indeed a tough question and most photographers find it extremely challenging figuring out the amount of time they need for the exposure. However, this will depend on your experience. With the right experience, you will learn to know which filter to use for some specific conditions and how long to use such filters.

It is usually difficult when you are just starting out. Fortunately, there are some Calculator apps you can find in Google Play Store or Apple Store and install on your smartphone. Search these online stores with the keyword "long exposure". With these apps, you can be able to learn how long to expose for using the stop number of your filter. The Calculator apps works in a special way - it calculates your shutter speed, your ISO, and even your aperture when the filter is off.

5. Should I Purchase Cheap or Expensive Filters?

This is an easy one. Like the saying goes "you will get what you pay for". When a filter is sold at a ridiculous cheap price, there is a reason behind that, in most cases, this type of filters has a very bad color cast and can make your post-processing work a lot more challenging especially when you are working in color.

If you want to get a really good filter to get the job done right, prepare to spend some extra cash. Start with a 10-stop filter since it is the most versatile of all the available filters. You can always buy new filters as you master long exposure photography.


Long exposure photography is really fun - it may seem a bit challenging at first but the result is always very rewarding. When you learn to do this right, you will open for yourself a whole new way to take your photography to the next level. But to master long exposures, you need patient and really good filters. Take your time and practice, with time, you will start to get it right.

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