Long Exposure

Long Exposure

Long exposure was one of the reasons I got into photography to begin with. There is something truly mesmerizing about capturing such a fast paced world over the course of seconds or minutes.  Light simply reveals more given the time. In this article I am going to give you a little insight into my workflow, equipment and set-up.

Independence Day – Neon lights are a popular feature of long exposure.



Most cameras are capable of doing long exposure. However one should see that there is a manual means of controlling the length of the exposure such as a remote trigger. There also exists a great third party firmware for Canons called Magic Lantern which has an In-camera intervalometer, great for long exposure and so much more.

It is interesting to note that with many crop sensor DSLRs such as my 600d, you are more likely to get nosier images when performing long exposures. These smaller sensors tend to heat up quicker than their full frame brothers, and thus they are preferred especially when pushing the 7 minute mark.


A relatively wide angel lens would allow for more to be captured in a single image, avoiding the complexity of stitching multiple long exposures. A good choice would be the Canon 10-18mm STM, check out my review.

ND Filter

There are many different kinds of filter grades and means of how they attach to your camera. They exist to ‘darken’ your image even in sunlight and allow for long exposure to take place. A good start would be  an ND 3.0 (10 steps) however it really matters on lighting conditions and needs, which is why a holder design might be more attractive. It is cheaper than buying a filter for each lens diameter and allows for multiple ones to be added on each other.



Essential. Any sturdy tripod will do, and if it is super light make sure to weigh it down with bag.

Remote Trigger

IMG_6833 Highly Recommended. It is probably one of the cheaper accessories to purchase and a must have if you really want manual control over you exposure time. When photographing fireworks this will be a great help in stopping the exposure.



HDR Long Exposures – Note the smoothness of the water.

Set UP

First of all, scout the location before hand and take a few photos to see what angles work and don’t. Experiment with different focal lengths and go with what shows true potential.

Then look at the clouds and watch just how fast they move. On windy days – and depending on the desired effect – extend the exposure time to about 1-2 minutes. If the clouds around rather rigid, it has to be more. 5 minutes or more as a guide.

It is at this point I would suggest using a Long Exposure Calculator, Android equivalents exist. Simply enter the filter density and base shutter speed (speed at normal exposure) and the calculator will suggest an exposure time (always keep in mind the effect you are after).

Experiment with different settings and see what works for you.

Fireworks over the Grand Harbour – A remote trigger allows you to end your exposure before a new set.

The applications are truly endless.

Visit www.lukegalea.com for more long exposure photographs :)

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