Long Exposure Photography – Getting Started Through Trial and Error

Inspired by a current photography collaboration project hosted by Nick and Shannon (described here), over the past few days I’ve made a couple of attempts to try longer exposure photography. Since I’m working with a new-to-me camera and haven’t really spent much time with the user manual, it’s been a trial and error process, all the more so because I’ve never tried long exposure photography before.

In both attempts, there were static elements as well as a moving element – flowing water. Since I was holding the camera by hand each time, the longest shot I managed while still keeping the static elements in focus was 1/8 second. That seems pretty short when you look at it typed out on the computer screen, but seemed terribly long when waiting for the shutter to close!

This waterfall on Three Sisters Creek is about 8 meters (25 feet) high. I rested my camera on the end of a fallen log to steady it and used a 2 second delay to ensure it wasn’t jarred when the shutter opened.

Waterfall on Three Sisters Creek

Earlier this week we had to go to pick up K at about 9 o’clock in the evening. His bus was late getting back to the school and while we were sitting and listening to the rain fall on the roof of the vehicle, I got out my camera to see if I could capture the larger drops as they rolled across the windshield. One of the things I like best about this photo is the way the moving drops contain refractions of the warm light from the nearby street lights.

Raindroops through windshield

While my amateur efforts pale in comparison to the amazing long exposure shots posted elsewhere on the internet (including recent photos of the annular eclipse last Saturday), I am intrigued enough that I’m planning to dig out the camera’s user manual and then try my hand at some more long exposures.

If there’s a website or some other resource you recommend on this topic, please leave a comment to help me in my quest to become a better long exposure photographer.

5 thoughts on “Long Exposure Photography – Getting Started Through Trial and Error

  1. I love long-exposure photography. Everything I’ve done with it is basically trial-and-error and testing different settings. From night images to waterfalls to whatever else, long-exposure photography can be fun.

    When I was figuring things out, the main things I did was focus in on something. Waterfalls, night shots etc. Then I basically searched that one piece. Waterfalls can be great at the right time of day. Cloudy is better, I’ve found. I always shoot on full manual when doing long-exposure to have full control over what it happening.

    The biggest thing is a tripod and remote. It makes your life so much easier when doing those. Filters and such can help, if doing things like waterfalls during the day. Night scenes are fun, as well.

    Enjoy the long-exposure shots. They can be very rewarding.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. It’s heartening to learn that trial and error actually works, especially when backed up with selective study! I haven’t had any more time to work on this since my first efforts, but look forward to getting back to it in June / July.

    1. Thanks! Three Sisters Creek is a small creek than drains the western slope of the Three Sisters mountain and the eastern slopes of the Ehagay Nakoda Range just outside Canmore, Alberta, Canada. The photo was taken at approximately N51 02.554 W115 20.557 if you want to take a virtual flyover using something like Google Earth.

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