ULTIMATE GUIDE: Long Exposure Photos Demystified (VIDEO)

Have you ever wondered how to shoot dynamic photos with soft silky water, cotton-like clouds moving across the sky, or light trails emanating from cars cruising down the road at night? If so, the comprehensive guide in the video below is all you need for getting the job done.

The key to capturing impressive images like these is using slow shutter speeds, a technique typically referred to as “long-exposure photography.” And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be an expert or own a bunch of fancy gear to jump on the bandwagon.

Instructor Mike Smith is an accomplished British landscape photographer, and in this 15-minute episode he explains techniques for shooters of all skill levels that will enable you to smooth out rough seas, make waterfalls appear to be moving, capture eye-catching cityscapes at night, and create a variety of other images that rely upon long exposures for maximum impact.

As Smith says, “This is a surprisingly easy technique to learn,” and he begins by covering the basics. As the term long-exposure suggests, the trick is keeping your camera’s shutter open much longer than is usually the case. By doing this you’ll be able to compress a long period of time into a single shot, and create an eye-catching sense of movement.

Smith illustrates his tips with beautiful imagery, explaining when this method is particularly useful (and other situations when it’s not). As for gear, all you need when shooting at night is your camera and a tripod; that’s it. For shooting during the day you’ll also want to add one or two ND filters to your kit. Smith also provides a list of his favorite gear in the description beneath the video.

You’ll pick some valuable tips on exposure and composition as the lesson progresses, and learn which ND filters Smith likes best and those he says you should avoid. He also explains the proper way to use these filters for maximum effect. If you’re wondering about Variable ND filters, you’ll learn about those too.

The episode wraps up with specific long-exposure tips for photographing waterfalls and streams, making clouds look as though they’re floating across the sky, and capturing beautiful seaside images of waves crashing ashore.

After watching the video head over to Smith’s popular YouTube channel where you’ll find more tips and tricks for photographing the great outdoors.

And don’t miss the earlier tutorial we posted from another accomplished pro, explaining how to capture stunning landscape photos when the light just isn’t right.