Tech of the month: Long Exposure

It is time for another edition of Tech of the month! In August, we will look at long exposures. As always, you are invited to follow along with your camera – also if it is a compact one.

Long exposures allow you to blur motion and to collect as much light as possible. They often yield unreal yet beautiful images with vibrant colors and a large depth of field.

But first of all, how long is ‘long:’? There is no definite answer but for the sake of simplicity, I will put the line at a second. I took the header image of this post, a picture of the Spreebogen in Berlin, former residence of the ministry of the interior, with an exposure time of 10 seconds!

You will notice that I took almost all pictures in this post at night. Unless you own a super-professional camera or the right filters, you will also have to take your pictures for this challenge after sunset or in other low-light conditions. Why? Because if I had taken the ame image with the same settings during the day, the result would have been an all-white photo.

Olympus OMD E-M10 with Panasonic Lumix G20/F1.7 II, @ F5, 1"

Olympus OMD E-M10 with Panasonic Lumix G20/F1.7 II, @ F5, 1″

[Originally published in Dream Design Play | Dongdeamun Design Plaza]

At exposure times of a second or more, you will need a tripod or some other means of support for your camera to avoid camera shake. I often but not always use a small gorilla tripod. When I do not have it with me, I use a wall or my backpack instead.

Amsterdam city lights at night, - Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm @ F4.5, 3.2, ISO 200

Amsterdam city lights at night, – Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm @ F4.5, 3.2, ISO 200

[Originally published in The ups and downs of sleeping on a boat]

When you have chosen your motive and steadied your camera, it is time to choose the right settings. If your camera has manual control or a shutter speed priority mode, you can set the desired exposure time directly. Keep the ISO setting as low as possible to be able to go to longer times.

Coffee with a 4 seconds exposure

Coffee with a 4 seconds exposure

With a compact camera, you might not have the same amount of control over your images. However, most compacts nowadays have scene modes. The ‘nighttime landscape’ one will be the one to choose for long exposures. I took the image below in this mode with a small compact. I recommend that you take pictures in different light conditions to learn where this scene mode is good and where it is not.

Long exposure with a compact camera

Long exposure with a compact camera

[Originally published in Two memories of San Francisco]

ToM is a monthly photo challenge. To participate, take a picture according the theme, and when you post the picture, create a pingback to this post to share your achievements with us. As always, you are also invited to submit your images to Lucile’s photo rehab, and we will list all in-time contributions at the end of next month’s challenge. There is no time limit to participate in the challenges in the archives and you will always be listed at the end of each challenge you completed.

For a more advanced challenge that also involves long exposures, be sure to check out Nalinki’s post about Available Light.

Last month’s topic was Black & White, and these are the contributions we received until today:

Andy Townend: Senimo
Desley Jane: Monochromatic Dramatic
Viaja/Viaja2 Photography: Blanco y negro
Playing with my first DSLR camera: Project 365 – Week 8
perelincolors: For ToM: Berlin in Black-and-White
Lucile de Godoy: Tech of the Month: Black and White

And here are this month’s contributions:
Something to Ponder About: Tech of the month: Long Exposure
Andy Townend: exposed
Desley Jane: Wheel-ly Long Exposures
Lucile de Godoy: Motion Blur
Angle and views: Skyline Wednesday 1: Boston

This post was originally published on

13 thoughts on “Tech of the month: Long Exposure

  1. desleyjane

    Ooooo you’re making me go outside with a tripod at night in Winter!!! Good grief 😉 Looking forward to it! I love the shots here in this post, long exposure makes for lovely images.


      1. desleyjane

        Yes it’s a wild thought!! I’m in Melbourne at the moment and it’s about 12 in the daytime and down to about 7 overnight but was colder a few weeks ago. It snowed in Canberra today. At home in Brisbane, it’s about 7 overnight and a top of 20-25 in the day.


  2. LDG luciledegodoy

    It started with Nalinki, then you, inspiring me to experiment and learn night photography and the use of long exposure.
    Your photos are superbly done.
    I did like that you also shared a photo (excellent one) made with a compact camera. It helps showing that even one like that can make good photos.


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