Image by Yunus Malik. Gear: Nikon D90 camera, Sigma 10-20mm lens. Settings: Focal length 10mm; shutter speed 30 sec; f18; ISO 100.
There’s a learning curve for photographers when it comes to long exposures, so take your time. This is not the kind of technique you can master in an afternoon. Libassi urges everyone who follows in his footsteps to “think of the final image as a gift.” He continues, “You might spend hours on location and go home with no usable images in the end, but what really counts is the experience—just being out in nature and enjoying the moment.” The real trick, Spelbos says, is to experiment and see what works for you. To help you on your journey, you’ll find some tips from the pros below:
1. Try an ND filter. Spelbos, Shiels, Standera, and Malik all suggested using them. “Without these filters, it will be impossible to use a long shutter speed during the day,” Spelbos advises. “There are photographers who use ND calculator apps to predict the shutter speeds necessary for whatever type of filter they are using. Maybe it’s a good idea to use these apps in the beginning to see what kind of shutter speeds are suited for your filter.”
2. Watch your ISO. “Avoid noise and hot pixels with the correct ISO setting,” Malik suggests. “Use the lowest possible ISO,” Standera adds. “And if your camera has the function of removing long exposure noise, make sure to turn it on.”
3. Shoot in RAW. This will help you to avoid color cast, Malik says.
4. Think about when a long exposure is appropriate. Be deliberate about when you use a slow shutter speed. “Use a long exposure only when you are sure it will raise the quality of the given moment when compared to the same scene taken with a short exposure time,” Standera instructs. When shooting bodies of water, light trails, or even the sky, understand why you’re using a longer exposure and how it will affect your final image.