Long exposure photography is a great way to show your photography skills. If you do it right, the image is always stunning. You can be able to capture a beautiful scene in a surreal way. Long exposures give you creative control to transform a scene in such a way that is not visible to the naked eye. You can able to show the passage of time in a still photograph when you learn how to do it right.
You can achieve the above simply by blurring moving elements and making the static parts sharper. But there is a problem; camera movement of any kind can blur even the static part that you want to look sharper. In this article, you will learn of some creative ways to overcome this problem.
How to Make Your Images Sharper in Long Exposures
1. Invest in a Quality Tripod
If you are really serious about long exposure photography, it is no-brainer that you should invest in a quality tripod. You can be able to take a good photograph without camera shake and without tripod for short exposures. But for long exposures, quality tripod is a must.
Tripod is better and steadier than your hands. The aim here is to be able to eliminate the camera shakiness and avoid blurring of the static part of your scene. With quality tripod, you are half-way to getting sharper image quality.
2. Buy a Remote Shutter Release
Even when you have a tripod, you can still experience camera shake when you hit the shutter button. Your goal here should be to completely eliminate anything that can lead to the camera shaking. Thus, you can operate your camera remotely when you have a remote control.
You can use a cable or wireless remote - any of the two will serve as far as your camera does not shake.
Another way to eliminate camera shake is to set your camera to 2-sec delay. Thus, any movement will be done before the shutter snaps.
3. Lock the Mirror To Avoid Movement
Since you are shooting long exposures, you are probably using a DSLR camera. DSLR cameras come with a mirror which function is to reflect the image from the lens to the viewfinder. This is an awesome feature but can cause you problem during long exposures due to its movement. That little movement can cause vibration which will lead to your image not appearing as sharp as you would have liked.
To avoid this problem, lock the mirror up so that you can stop this movement and avoid ruining your image.
4. Make use of Manual Focus
You are probably going to find this a bit hard if you are used to autofocus. Using autofocus is good, but there are moments when you need to do things more manually so you can get better results. Shooting long exposures is one of those moments you need manual focus.
A good reason to use manual focus is because autofocus usually have trouble focusing on something in a low light situation. Even when you think it has finally focused, it readjusts when the shutter is snapped. You are not safe by using ND filters either.
Manual focus is valuable in this condition; it is an easier way to achieve better focus. Alternatively, you can make use of a flashlight to get a focus and once it is set, switch off the autofocus so that it will not readjust once the light is off.
5. Make use of Aperture Sweet Spot
You can make your shoot longer when you close down your aperture. The problem is that you will begin to have a diffraction effects when the aperture is small and this will affect the sharpness of your image.
You can find the sweet spots of lens apertures between f/5.6 to f/8 in most lenses. This means that you will get better images when you shoot in this range.
You must do everything possible to eliminate camera shake if you want to get sharper images during long exposures. Applying the tips recommended above will help you become a pro in long exposure photography in a little time.