Shooting Steady and Capturing Long-Exposure Photos

Snagging that perfect long-exposure shot can be tricky – getting the shutter speed just right, achieving the perfect stability, and waiting patiently for those extra-long minutes while you let your camera do its thing are rough, but those gorgeous shots are always worth the extra effort.

The best way to achieve the perfect long exposure shot is to use a tripod and experiment with different shutter speeds and apertures. For optimal results, stick to wide-angled lenses and – in most cases – avoid using flash.

Photography StanceIf you’re working with a handheld DSLR camera and trying to achieve some truly great long-exposure shots, you may have noticed that you’re having a hard time keeping the camera steady. Since your handheld DSLR doesn’t have a tripod attached, you’ll just have to turn your body into a makeshift tripod, to ensure that you’re getting a clear, steady shot.

For standing positions, use your left hand to support the weight of the camera and stand with your feet shoulder width apart, or wider – experiment to find your perfect comfort level, as some people find that wider and lower produces more stable shots. Arch your back, lean into your camera, keep your elbows taught (either close to your chest or at a bit of an angle) and shoot.

If you’re shooting something from a position closer to ground level, try a kneeling position. Kneel with the majority of your weight leaned forward with your left leg at a 90-degree angle. Brace your left arm against your left knee to help stabilize your hands and shoot away!

Some of the most popular long-exposure shots are those that involve light trails. For example, to capture a photo of traffic head and taillights, use a small aperture (f/16 or smaller), and a shutter speed of up to 13/1. If you’re photographing a far slower moving phenomenon, like star trails, you’ll have to be extra patient: set your aperture to f/2.8 to 4, and your shutter speed will need to be incredibly long – three hours or longer generally works well – but the long wait will provide you with a stunning photo!

Learn even more about photography at Hunakai Studio of Fine Arts. Our instructors and staff can provide you with even more great tips for capturing amazing photos, proper framing techniques and much more. Stop in to the studio in Foxborough or contact us today to learn more.