Shooting Long Exposures

Since we talked about preparing to shoot long exposures in my last post, it is time to learn how to do it! Have you ever seen photos, like the one below, and wondered how they were able to make the water look like it is flowing smoothly?


Or, have you ever seen photos of the night sky that shows movement of the stars, like the one below, and wanted to try to create a similar photo yourself?


How to Shoot Long Exposures

The trick to these photos is using the bulb setting on a dSLR camera. This setting is the ‘B’ on the setting wheel. This setting allows you to hold the shutter open for as long as you desire, depending on what kind of photo you are trying to achieve. The first photo with the river was a 30 second exposure while the star trail photo was a 5 minute exposure. Therefore, you will want a remote, preferably a lockable one like Digital Camera World suggests. If your remote is corded, it will plug directly into the camera body.

Next, you want to make sure your tripod with the camera on it is placed somewhere sturdy. Here is how I set up my tripod when I took the top photo of the river.


It is important that your tripod is supported by something that won’t move to prevent the photo from being blurry. I have had my tripod move towards the end of a 30 minute exposure and it ruined the whole photo on top of losing 30 minutes of shooting time.

Once you have your camera adjusted and pointed in the direction you like, lock the shutter button on the remote to begin the exposure. I usually use the stopwatch on my phone to keep track of how long the shutter has been open. If it is dark, you will want the shutter open for at least 40 seconds depending on your camera settings.

Other Subjects

Some other subjects that Improve Photography mentions can be shot with a long exposure are lightning and fireworks. The following photo is about a 40 second exposure.


It takes experimenting and practice when it comes to long exposures. Eventually, you will achieve the shot you are looking for! The key is to be patient. What kind of long exposures would you like to take or have taken? Share your photos with me on Twitter or Instagram!


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