Long Exposure Photos Made Easy

Have you ever seen a photo in which the clouds seem to be moving and the waves look silky? That was probably a long exposure photo…..I love these photos! They give a scene the sense of movement and usually make everything look more dreamy or mysterious.

In a long exposure photo the camera shutter stays open for longer, in the case of my camera for up to 90 seconds, and it will blur everything that moves during the exposure time. In a really long exposure a person could walk through the frame and simply disappear from the photo.

Here is an example of a photo I recently took in Mammoth, before and after using the long exposure effect:

long exposure before and after

These photos really catch the eye, but taking them properly requires time, preparation and equipment. To take a long exposure shot with a DSLR camera you would for starters need a tripod. Everything that’s not moving is still supposed to be crisp and clear in the photo, so holding your camera is not really a great option.

On top of that, long exposure means that too much light will enter the camera, and the photo will be overexposed unless you use a filter on top of your lens. These filters are called neutral density filters, and they will simply darken everything so you can leave your camera shutter open for longer…not hard, but you will need to go and buy one.

If this sounds like too much work for your taste, try the following trick on your iPhone (there is more than one way to do this, but I am only sharing the easiest one  right now):

  • Switch your iPhone camera mode to "live" (the little icon on the top of the screen that looks like a target)
  • Take a photo (if you can, it’s even better to either use an iPhone tripod or to rest your phone on a fixed backdrop while using the self timer, so that there is absolutely no shake)
  • Once the photo is taken, open it in the Photo app on your phone
  • Swipe up
  • You will now see different options (effects) that Apple offers to convert the photo into something else. You can for example choose a loop or a bounce, or you can opt for the very last effect: long exposure.
  • The phone will overlay all the individual photos that were taken in live mode and give it the dreamy look you were trying to achieve….hopefully :-)

And by the way: if you don’t like the outcome, just stick with the original version of the photo and try again.

Any questions? Let us know!