If you want to have a go at long exposure photography but don’t know where to start, or need some tips and tricks to get you started this article is just what you are looking for. This article is full of hints, tips and tricks that will get you started in the world of long exposure photography and capturing stunning long exposure shots in no time at all, so please carry on to find out more…………..
Equipment for long exposure photography
Contrary to popular belief you really don’t need that much photography equipment and in order to take long exposures you need essential bits of equipment, and these are:-
A camera with bulb mode
The shutters on most cameras won’t stay open longer than 30 seconds unless there is a specific bulb mode. If you don’t want exposure times of more than 30 seconds a bulb mode or will make no difference. If you do want really long exposures a bulb mode is essential to achieve them, so make sure any camera you intend to use for long exposure photography has this feature.
If you want to take long exposure photos you have to use a tripod, and there is no way around this. There are loads of different tripods available and the prices vary from super cheap to super expensive. One piece of advice I would give is that you should never scrimp on a tripod and always buy one that is strong enough to securely hold not only your camera/lens combination but also filter system, flash and any other accessories you intend to use.
The tripod I use is the Manfrotto Befree travel tripod and it is perfect for me. I bought the Befree tripod for a trip around Europe, but when I realised just how tough and strong it was, and that it kept my camera, lens and filters in place. I started using the Befree more and more and it has now become my go to tripod of choice, and the fact it is light weight, quick to set up and pack away and also small and compact is a real bonus.
A remote shutter release
If you don’t need to use your camera in bulb mode a remote shutter release isn’t overly important because you can use the self-timer to ensure you don’t knock the camera when tripping the shutter. In this instance a remote shutter release simply makes life easier.
If you are using your camera in bulb mode for very long exposures a remote shutter release is an essential bit of kit as it is impossible to keep your camera’s shutter button pressed down and not move anything.
The choice of remote shutter release is down to personal preference and neither is better than the others. I use a wired remote shutter release and I use a cheap and cheerful Pixel Pro I bought from Amazon. Sure, I could have invested in a genuine Canon branded remote shutter release, costing several times more. Or, I could use a wireless device, also costing much more. I don’t see the point in shelling out loads of money on a remote shutter release when a cheap model does everything I need it to.
Essential gear for long exposure photography - Camera with bulb mode, tripod and remote
Here are the "pros and cons of the Canon 6d", alternatively you can buy the Canon 6d from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens)
You can buy the Manfrotto Befree travel tripod from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens)
Believe it or not the above is all you need to capture long exposure photos. Long exposure photos obviously require slow shutter speeds and if the conditions are right, i.e. ambient light levels are low, you won’t need to use an ND filter. If the ambient light levels are too good for slow shutter speeds you have no option other than to slow things down with an ND filter.
If you are shooting late in the afternoon the chances are you won’t need an ND filter, unless you want to achieve really long exposures that is. If you are shooting in the middle of a bright, sunny day it is most likely you will need an ND filter.
In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, a ND filter is essential for long exposures regardless of the ambient light and I would never go out with the camera to take long exposure photos without my ND filters.
The ND filters I use for long exposure photography comprise a 3 stop, a 6 stop and a 10 stop, and the filter I sue for any given shot depends on the effect I am after. As a rule of thumb I use the weakest ND filter I can get away with the type of shot I want. Many people will jump straight in with the 10 stop ND filter for each and every long exposure shot and if you do this you will find all of your photos start to look the same.
I find there are times when a 10 stop ND filter is too strong for the conditions, i.e. the ambient light levels, and the effect I am after and I can get a more pleasing result using a 6 stop or a 3 stop ND filter.
The ND filters I use for long exposure photography are those made by Zomei, and I have to say they are exceptionally good, and the 10 stop ND filter in particular. The Zomei 10 stop ND filter produces exactly the same results as the Lee branded Big Stopper and the Hitech 10 stop ND filters, but at a fraction of the cost. If you’re interested here’s a review of the Zomei 10 stop ND filter. Alternatively you can buy the Zomei 10 stop ND fiter from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens).
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.