Long Exposure Star Photography
Taking a long exposure of stars allows many creative possibilities. In this genre, the shutter speed will depend on the scene. Using a long exposure towill take at any time from 15 minutes to several hours, but itll allow you to capture mesmerizing images,
long exposure circumpolar star trails. Image by Uros Fink
However, if you shoot a long exposure for the Milky Way because you want to capture the stars as we perceive them with the naked eye, you shouldnt use a shutter speed longer than 20 seconds as I explain in my Milky Way photography guide.
Whatever your aim is while using long exposure at night, I recommend checking my night-long exposure photography guide to get more ideas.
You can use a long exposure to shoot the stars and the Milky Way. Utah, USA
Tips For The Best Long
The key to a long exposure photo is to capture the contrast between moving and still elements of a photo. The moving elements will be blurry or virtually invisible, and the still parts of the image should be sharp.
- Hold the camera or phone completely still or, ideally, invest in a tripod. Moving your camera around while youre taking your long-exposure photo will cause the entire scene to blur.
- Try and take photographs where the subject is still and the background is moving. The crispness of the subject will draw the viewers focus to the subject.
An iPhone Is All You Need To Take Dreamy Long
The iPhone 13 Pro takes beautiful shots, but any iPhone can do this.
Lead Editor, CNET Advice, Europe Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET’s go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Whether you’re looking for a way to take stunning vacation photos during your spring trip or want to improve your phone photography skills, there’s a creative trick hidden inside your iPhone that’ll transform your everyday images into dreamy long-exposure shots. You don’t need the iPhone 13 Pro or 2022 iPhone SE to take advantage of this feature. It works on any iPhone launched after the iPhone 6.
A long-exposure photograph is any image where the shutter has been intentionally left open long enough to blur the motion in the image. Look up pictures of waterfalls and you’ll undoubtedly see images where the raging torrent of water has been smoothed out into this otherworldly flow — that’s a long exposure.
To take this sort of image with a DSLR camera, you usually need a tripod to keep the camera steady and a filter that blocks out light. This is often required because leaving the shutter open for a second or more can let in too much light, which results in an overexposed shot.
Here’s how you can do it.
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Can You Take Long Exposure Shots With An iPhone
Your iPhone camera is not equipped for long exposure shots, because there is no way to set the shutter speed in the native Camera app. Fortunately, there are alternative ways to achieve those gorgeous light trails with your iPhone: either using a long exposure app or by converting Live Photos to long exposure shots. While the technique is totally different, youll find the effects very similar to what you would get using a DSLR.
What’s A Long Exposure Photo
Usually, when you take a photo, the iPhone camera app uses a fast shutter speed that’s measured in fractions of a second, e.g., 1/100 second.
To take a long exposure photo on iPhone and to blur the moving subject, you’d have to use a notably slower shutter speed and keep the shutter open for several seconds. The problem is that the iPhone’s shutter speed is limited to one second, and even third-party camera apps can’t overcome this limitation.
To get around this hardware limitation, clever iPhone developers released camera apps for iPhone that take dozens of photos within a single second and combine them into a single image to simulate the motion blur effect of a long exposure.
An early long exposure photo shot on iPhone using Slow Shutter Camera App
So let’s have a look at the different options and camera apps for long exposure photography on iPhone.
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Disadvantages Of Taking A Long Exposure Using A Live Photo
Using a Live Photo is an easy way to capture a three-second-long exposure of an object in motion. That’s for sure, and I like to use this way now and then. But it also has some disadvantages that you should be aware of.
- Taking a long exposure using Live Photos works excellent in good light – but only in good light. If you want to photograph light trails at night, your photos may be grainy. To take pictures of light trails, I recommend looking at Slow Shutter Camera App. It’s one of the apps I’ve been using for long exposure photography for years.
- You can’t use this way of taking a long exposure to take well exposed and low noise night photos. For such a scenario you’d need a low light camera app light iOS night mode or ProCamera night mode
- Your exposure time is limited to three seconds with Live Photos. If you would like to use a more prolonged exposure, you will need to use a dedicated app, like the aforementioned Slow Shutter Camera App.
Long Exposure And Shutter Speed
Shutter speedis one of the essentials of long exposure photography, and it will have a drastic impact on your final photos.
So, what is the best shutter speed for long exposure photography? The best shutter speed is the one that fits the light situation and your intention. Understanding the final effects of using a shorter or longer shutter speed is the key to getting the photo you have in mind:
- Ultra-long exposure photography creates ethereal, abstract, and dreamy atmospheres because youre softening all the motion in your photo. The exposure time will be over 5 minutes, and to get this long exposure, you have to use the Bulb mode.
Use super long exposures to create minimalist images and dreamy atmospheres. Sugarloaf Rock, Australia 105 sec. f/13, ISO 100
- A shorter exposure time maintains the details of the components that are moving in your photo, creating a vibrant and dynamic impression while capturing the motion. The shutter speed will be around 1 minute or less.
Use a shorter long exposure to capture details in moving elements like water. Stokksnes, Iceland 8 sec, f/11, ISO 100
These exposure times are just a mere approximation and will vary based on your conditions and environment. There are lots of factors that may influence the exposure time, so weve created the ultimate cheat sheet for long exposure photography so you can calculate your shutter speed!
|Type of long exposure|
Best shutter speed for Long Exposure
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Only On iPhone 11 11 Pro And Newer Devices
If you own an iPhone XS, XR, or earlier, you wont be able to access the Exposure Compensation dial. Youll have to make do with the old method of doing things, which means locking focus and exposure to a single point and then making micro-adjustments inside the yellow box.
If you arent fond of that method, there is a large selection of camera apps that feature full manual control. If you have an older device and want to set exposure and focus separately in a more intuitive way, try VSCO, Manual, or Camera+ 2.
How Do You Create Loop Bounce And Long Exposure Effects
After taking your Live Photo, head to your Photos gallery and choose the photo you want to add the effect to. Swipe upwards on the photo and you’ll reveal an interface underneath the photo.
You’ll find the Live Photos effects at the top of this area, with thumbnail previews of what the animation will look like below the main image.
Each effect does what its name suggests it will. Loop essentially plays the video, then repeats it with a brief cross dissolve style transition between when it ends and when it begins again.
Bounce is similar to Boomerang – a feature made popular in Instagram’s Stories. It plays the short video, then immediately reverses it.
Long Exposure is cheating, pure and simple but it works, and is certainly easier than trying to create a manual long exposure shot using a tripod and a manual camera app. It combines the frames of the video into one, blurred image. It’s great for waterfalls, seas and rivers – or any moving water for that matter.
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How To Enable Exposure Compensation
To enable the Exposure Compensation dial, launch the Camera app, and tap on the arrow at the top of the viewfinder .
If you dont see the arrow, its possible that you havent yet to the latest version of iOS.
A row of icons will appear just above the shutter button. The Exposure Compensation slider is the plus/minus icon. Tap on it and a new slider will appear along the bottom of the frame.
If you dont have an iPhone 11 or newer, you wont see this option as its not available on older devices.
You can now move the slider left and right to decrease or increase the amount of light in your scene.
If you tap on the plus/minus again, you will get back to the main row of icons. You can close the menu using the arrow at the top of the viewfinder. Keep in mind that, if you set an exposure compensation value, it will persist until the next time you open the camera appeven if you close this menu.
Why You Should Try The Other iPhone Camera Lenses
There are a number of different lenses to your iPhone that you may not have discovered can be used for long exposure photos. You will need to access your editing apps on a computer like Adobe Photoshop.
The reason is that the following lenses have a specific aspect ratio to them that will help you in the long run.
- The aspect ratio is usually 5:4.
- Square: The aspect ratio is 1:1 and can still be cropped if needed to.
- Pano: The panoramic aspect ratio is 16:9.
It is important to understand the aspect ratios, because of where you may post them or where a client of yours may want to post their picture. If you have a panoramic photo that someone wishes to post to Instagram, this may not work.
Because the panoramic photo is too big to fit into Instagrams sizing of photos, you will need to crop it down even more. However, if you were to post the picture to your own website, you should have no problems doing so.
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What Is A Long Exposure Live Photo
Live Photos is an iPhone camera feature that captures 1.5 seconds of video before and after you press the shutter button. So you end up with a 3-second video clip.
Now, you can keep your Live Photo as a video. Or
You can convert it to a long exposure photo!
Remember, a Live Photo is captured over a period of 3 seconds. So when you convert it to a long exposure, it creates an image with a slow shutter effect.
It does this by automatically layering each of the individual frames that were captured during the 3-second Live Photo.
Long Exposure Calculator In A Long Exposure App
One of the best tips for long exposure photography is to use apps to calculate the shutter speed that you need. These apps are specifically for long exposure photography and will help you determine the right exposure time/shutter speed depending on the Neutral Density Filters that youre using.
There are hundreds of apps to help you calculate your long exposure shot, but probably the most used are and Exposure Calculator. Lets see how to use them:
Now you have all the information you need to shoot long exposure photos. If you dont know where to start, here are the main types of long exposure photography.
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Long Exposure Photography Tips
Getting amazing long exposure shots has been made as simple as possible, thanks to the geniuses at Apple, but you’re still going to need to plan for these shots carefully if you want to make them incredible. Here are some top tips for shooting better long exposure photos on iPhone:
- Use a tripod: A simple tripod will avoid the inevitable shake, which can really spoil a good shot. Basic models don’t break the bank, and will step your shots up a level with ease.
- Get a good phone attachment: The last thing you want is for your iPhone to hit the deck while you’re trying to attach it to the tripod, so choose an attachment system that is secure and easy to use.
- Use your ear buds: Using your white Apple earbuds with ‘volume shutter’ turned on allows you to activate the shutter without touching the phone. This further reduces the risk of a wobble and subsequently ruined shot.
- Your Live Photo will translate better into a long exposure shot if you have something obviously moving in the image. Having a moving object against stationery surrounds works really well.
This feature is one of the most exciting and interesting uses of Live Photos to date, and is well worth checking out if you haven’t done so already.
How To Make The Shutter Speed Faster
To speed up your shutter speed simply open your preferred camera app, select shutter speed and use the slider to adjust to the speed that you want.
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Silhouettes Are Great For A Simplistic Look
Darker silhouettes can make your long exposure shots pop. By doing so, you need to be on the other side of the majority of the light sources so that when you take the photo, your subjects appear dark.
A dark silhouette can bring a sort of peace and mystery to your photo and you want that engagement with your viewers.
Now that you understand how to take long exposure photos and others with your iPhones camera, there are a few rules when editing these kinds of photos.
How To Revert Long Exposure Snap Into Live Photos Or Loop Or Bounce Effect
To change the effect in a long exposure shot, you will have to open that picture and swipe up above to get other effects, choose a mode, and wait for a while.
AdvantageousLive Photos effects not working
Lets shot blurry movement photos and enjoy this DIY long exposure feature with supported your high-resolution megapixel iPhone XS Max, XS, XR, X, 8 Plus, 7 Plus/ iPhone 7/ iPhone 6S, or iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone SE, iPad 2017 and iPad Pro camera + Photos App. I hope that the iPhone XS and iOS 12s Live Photos effect could make the user a better Photographer.
Lets a look at the below list of the best places and moments to use long exposure photos with the Apple iPhone.
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Aperture Iso And Shutter Speed
An iPhones aperture and ISO affects the brightness of photos. Aperture is the opening in a lens where light passes to enter the camera. Think of aperture as the pupil of the cameras eye. In photography, the aperture size can shrink or grow to allow more or less light to reach the camera sensor. The larger the opening, the more light passes to the camera sensor.
Aperture also controls the depth of field. If the aperture is tiny, the depth of field is large. Alternatively, if the aperture is large, the depth of field is small. Aperture is expressed in f numbers. The f-number is the ratio of the lenss diameter aperture to the length of the lens. Each number either doubles or halves the amount of light allowed through the lens. Examples of f-numbers are f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0.
ISO is a way to brighten photos if a longer shutter speed or a wider aperture isnt available. ISO is measured in numbers recognized as 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, etc. A lower number represents a darker image, and higher numbers mean a brighter image. However, the higher the ISO, the grainier the image.
How To Use Loop Bounce And Long Exposure Effects With Live Photos In Ios 11
Live Photos were first introduced with iOS 9, allowing the iPhone to capture 3 seconds of live footage around a still image. Deep pressing on the still plays the short clip, adding life to the scene. iOS 11 taps into Live Photos potential, making them a bit more interesting with several new features. In addition to adding a much needed Live Photos album, you can now change the key frame of your Live Photo and add several effects including Loop, Bounce and Long Exposure. Heres how to apply these new effects to live photos on your iPhone:
- Loop – As the name suggests, your live photo will play again as soon as it finishes:
- Bounce – This effect plays your live photo forward then backward, then forward and so on.
- Long Exposure – This effect is best for static backgrounds with one part moving, like waterfalls or traffic on a highway. It gives you a still image rather than one that plays . While below isn’t the most pronounced example, you can see the difference in the waterfalls. The long exposure is on the right.
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