Over the last couple of years, long exposure landscape has become a hot topic in photography industry. It has also got a lot of coverage on photo sharing websites and photography magazines. If you have stumbled upon beautiful long exposure landscape photos, there is no way you can resist the urge to take pictures like that yourself. This type of image is always full of life and much more dynamic unlike a traditional image. Instead of capturing images in split seconds, long exposure landscape photography gives us a view of what a landscape looks like over seconds, minutes and possibly hours.
Long exposure landscapes can be very impressive and captivating. However, you need some practice and patience before you can get it right. In this article, you will learn some great steps to perfect long exposure landscape photography:
1. Location Matters a Lot
When it comes to long exposure landscape photography, location is the most important factor you should consider. If you need to get a beautiful long exposure image, you must first choose a landscape that is perfect for this type of photography. Note that long exposures are perfect for conveying movement. Thus, when choosing your location, make sure that there is something in the scene that will indicate movement or passage of time for instance, a waterfall, a river, passing clouds or waves crashing on the beach.
2. Your Timing
After choosing your location, the next thing you need to get perfect is the timing of your photos and this requires you to be a lot patient. Since you will be working with long shutter speeds, you will need lighting for your long exposures. You can get the perfect lighting in two ways - the first way is during the golden hour time periods i.e. early in the morning or late in the day. Another way to get good lighting is to add modifiers to the camera to diminish the light that is coming in through the lens.
Another method is to use a neutral density filter to achieve daytime long exposures. When you use neutral density filter, it blocks out light and help you use a longer shutter speed. There are different types of neutral density filter but a 10-stop neutral density filter makes a good starting point for daytime long exposures
3. Choose Your Lens Wisely
When it comes to choosing lens for long exposures landscape photography, there is no hard and fast rules about the lens to choose. In most cases, wide-angle lenses are best for capturing landscapes since they possess the ability to broaden the view and give a sense of expansiveness.
A good starting point when it comes to lenses is 50mm but you can get better result by using something wider. Note that the more you shoot within the frame, the more movement it will contain.
4. Carry along Proper Equipment
One situation you want to avoid is getting to your location to discover that you don't have some equipment you need. You will need to get everything you need for long exposure landscape photography on time before moving to your location.
Some of the equipment/tools you need include:
§Wide angle lens
§A sturdy tripod: Tripods are extremely important; they bring stability and ensure that your camera does not shake when you want to shoot the scene.
§A remote shutter release: You can add more stability to your camera by avoiding pressing the shutter button. A remote shutter reduces the chances of vibrations which can ruin your photo.
5. Dial in the Correct camera Settings
Long exposures require that you make adjustments to other parts of exposure triangle. What this implies is that you need to maintain sharpness while bringing your aperture down as far as possible and also reducing your ISO to the lowest setting. This setting will enable you to increase your exposure time up and give you enough time to capture movement in your image.
Moreover, using a lower ISO; for instance 100 will help you to bring the noise in your shot to its minimum thereby increasing your chances of getting the best possible image quality. Additionally, you can get a sharper and clearer photo when you have your aperture in middle ranges. Aperture levels such as f/8, f/11, or f/16 will help you achieve nice, deep depth of field throughout your photo.
6. Shoot in RAW
Shooting in the RAW is best in long exposure photography; it allows you to maintain all the information collected by the camera's sensor. Another benefit of shooting in the RAW is that you will have more data to work with during the post-processing. This is better than other formats such as JPEG. During post-processing, you can make non-destructive edits to your RAW files; the original RAW file will be unchanged irrespective of what you do in terms of processing. It also allows you to do many things such as adjust for levels, white balance, saturation, brightness, curves and correct for lens distortion.
7. Use Post-Production to Enhance the Beauty
Although your long exposure image will be beautiful right from the time you capture them, you still need to do some post-processing to enhance the beauty and touch up some areas that are not perfect already.
Getting the perfect long exposure landscape images is possible if you learn to get the perfect location, choose your timing wisely, master the correct camera settings and learn to apply minimal but necessary post-production edits. Remember that you need time and patience to master it.