There’s no doubt that Long Exposure Photography is a popular technique amongst you; it’s the subject of our best-selling eBook, it’s the subject of several of our most popular articles and it’s the subject of most questions I receive through our newsletter.
These are the most frequently asked questions about long exposure photography and the answers to them:
1. Does a Slower Shutter Speed Mean More Detail Will be Captured?
No. Using a slower shutter speed does not mean that more details will be captured. In fact, it’s more likely to have fewer details in an image when using a slow shutter speed due to certain elements blurring out.
If you want to capture more details you should consider implementing the Expose to the Right (ETTR) technique. Simply put, this technique is based on overexposing an image (without clipping any highlights). Doing so brings out more details in the shadows and gives you “more room to play”.
2. Do I Need a Remote Shutter for Long Exposure Photography?
No. You do not need a remote shutter for long exposure photography. However, it will be beneficial to have in many scenarios.
You can use your camera’s delayed shutter instead of a remote shutter release. This will work perfectly in most cases except for when:
- You’re photographing waves and need to capture an image at that exact moment
- When working with Bulb Mode and doing exposure times longer than 30 seconds (note that some cameras allow longer shutter speeds than 30 seconds)
3. Can I Capture Long Exposures Without Filters?
Yes. You can do Long Exposure Photography without filters.
Filters are used to reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor in a given time, which means you’ll need to lengthen the exposure time in order to get a correctly exposed image. However, you are able to use a semi-slow shutter speed without filters as well.
In order to do so, you’ll need to follow a couple steps:
- Use a narrow aperture (such as f/22)
- Use the lowest possible ISO
- Photograph when the sun is positioned low in the sky and it’s becoming darker
It’s nearly impossible to achieve a slow shutter speed without using filters when you’re photographing during the daytime. The techniques, as well as other tips and tricks, are explained further in our article Long Exposure Photography Without Filters.
4. Can I Replicate Long Exposure Photography Effects in Post-Processing?
Yes. The effect of a slow shutter speed can be replicated to some extent. It will look slightly different and require more work from you in the field, but here are the steps you’ll need to follow:
- Capture a bunch of images from the same perspective (the more you have the more “long exposure” the effect will look)
- Open all the images as layers in Photoshop
- Duplicate the first layer and place it on top of all others
- Go to Edit -> Align -> Auto-Align Layers
- Select all layers except for the top duplicated layer and Convert to Smart Objects
- Place the Smart Object on top of the other layer and go to Layers -> Smart Objects -> Stack Mode -> Mean (this creates the Long Exposure effect)
- Use a mask to blend the two images together
As you can see, the effect does not look as good as actually capturing a Long Exposure. However, this technique can be used if you, for example, aren’t able to use a tripod.
5. Is There a Correct Shutter Speed for Long Exposure Photography?
No. There is no correct shutter speed for Long Exposure Photography. The ideal shutter speed depends on the subject you’re photographing and how you wish to portray it.
It’s your creative decision as an artist to choose the shutter speed you prefer for this scene. Knowing roughly how long becomes easier as you become more experienced with working on this technique.
Do you enjoy Long Exposure Photography and want to become a master of this technique? Then our best-selling eBook The Ultimate Guide to Long Exposure Photography might be something for you.