Posts Tagged ‘Long’

2017 Buying Guide: Best enthusiast long zoom cameras

06 Dec

Long-zoom compacts fill the gap between pocketable cameras and interchangeable lens models with expensive lenses, offering a great combination of lens reach and portability. Here’s a look at the category’s current offerings and which ones we like best.

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Real-world test: Long exposures with Panasonic G9’s high-res mode

12 Nov
Out-of-camera 80MP JPEG using the Panasonic G9’s high-resolution mode. Lots of detail, and some strange-looking pedestrians.
Panasonic Leica DG 12-60mm F2.8-4 | ISO 200 | 1/500 sec | F4

New to Panasonic’s G9 flagship is a high-resolution mode, which shifts the sensor by half-pixel increments eight times, and generates an 80MP final image. As with similar technologies from Ricoh and Olympus, it’s not necessarily recommended for scenes with moving subjects in them. But we wanted to see if we could make it work.

You’ll notice in the above image, the pedestrians are sharply ‘ghosted’ in the foreground; this is due (obviously) to the eight exposures being taken, but also partially the 1/500 sec shutter speed. What if we purposely chose a slower speed, so that they would blur more naturally into each other?

These are only initial findings on a gray Seattle day, but we’ve got some interesting results.

Panasonic Leica DG 8-18mm F2.8-4 | ISO 200 | 1/30 sec | F8

For this situation, in order to get a proper exposure without either an ND filter or stopping down to diffraction-inducing levels, I figured I’d give 1/30 of a second a try. As you can see, there’s a little ‘repetition’ around portions of the pedestrians in the foreground and across the street, and while there’s lots of detail in the scene, you may want to just use the normal 20MP file for this one.

What if we go with a little longer of a shutter speed, though?

Panasonic Leica DG 8-18mm F2.8-4 | ISO 200 | 1/8 sec | F8

This looks to our eyes to exhibit some improvement. We overall found that a shutter speed between 1/4 sec and 1/8 sec gave a reasonably natural look to the average pedestrian in motion – of course, for faster and slower moving objects, you’ll have to adjust accordingly. Do take note, though, that there are some interesting colorful streaks in our moving subjects, and a reduction of resolution in static objects that can be seen behind them.

If you’re thinking about an even slower shutter speed, once you get down to 1/2 sec or so, pedestrians largely just disappear from your frame, leaving barely a shadow for you to notice. Of course, this could be an advantage if you’re wanting to eliminate people from your photos, without necessarily needing an ND filter and a 30-second exposure.

There were some people on these stairs, I promise.
Panasonic Leica DG 8-18mm F2.8-4 | ISO 200 | 1/2 sec | F8

We tried an even longer exposure to see if we could get the motion artifacts to ‘disappear’ with subjects moving fast enough across the scene, but we still could see some – check out the car taillights and the ground surrounding them in the below image. The rest of the image, predictably, shows good detail, but once you start inspecting the areas of motion too closely, the image starts to look a little strange. That said – you’d probably have to have someone point it out to you to really notice it in real life.

Panasonic Leica DG 12-60mm F2.8-4 | ISO 200 | 1.3 sec | F4

In any case, the high res mode on the G9 is something we want to continue to look into as we progress with our review. Raw support is coming shortly, and we’re looking forward to examining the Raw files from both real-world shooting as well as our test scene.

For now, we’ve added these images and their corresponding ‘normal’ 20MP equivalents onto the end of our existing image gallery for you to inspect.

Scroll to the end of our sample gallery to see our updated high res images

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Choosing the Correct ND Filter for Your Desired Long Exposure Photography Effects

25 Oct

Long exposure photography has quickly grown to become one of my favorite styles of photography and it’s quite clear by looking through the images I’ve captured the last few years. More and more images use a shutter speed slower than half a second and it’s further between the handheld shots.

Which ND Filter to use?

One of the reasons I’ve grown to become such a big fan of long exposure photography is that it opens so many doors. You’re much less limited in your work and you have endless of options when it comes to how you want your image to look. However, it’s exactly this benefit which also becomes a challenge for many: how do you choose the right shutter speed and ND Filter? 

Choosing the Correct ND Filter for Long Exposure Photography Effects

I don’t believe that there’s one correct shutter speed or filter when it comes to landscape photography. A big part of the creative process is to do what you prefer and go for the look you want to achieve. However, if you want to be able to achieve the look you want, you’ll also need to know how to get there and that’s why it’s important to understand how each of the different ND filters will affect your image.

In this article, we’ll look at how each of three different (three, six and 10-stop) ND filters will affect your image and in what scenarios they are each most beneficial.

3-Stop ND Filter

If you’re familiar with Neutral Density filters you may already know that a 3-stop filter won’t have a huge impact during brighter hours. Compared to the six and 10-stop filters, the 3-stop is not particularly dark and it won’t allow you to use those extremely slow shutter speeds of several minutes.

That being said, the 3sStop ND Filter remains one of my personal favorites. I particularly enjoy working with it when photographing waves from a low perspective.

Choosing the Correct ND Filter for Long Exposure Photography Effects

The picture above was taken a couple hours after sunrise but due to the sun’s low position on the Arctic sky, it still wasn’t daytime-bright outside. However, without using a filter, the shutter speed would have been too quick to capture the motion I wanted in the water. So I knew that a 3-stop ND filter would do the job. Using it allowed me to lengthen the exposure time to 1/3rd of a second, which was just enough the get some motion in the rushing waves and to achieve the look that I wanted for this shot.

Had I used a 6-stop ND filter instead, the image would look quite different since the longer shutter speed would blur the water and lose the texture that I was aiming for.

6-Stop ND Filter

As the name indicates, a 6-stop ND filter lets you lengthen the exposure time by six stops (not six times – six stops is 2x2x2x2x2x2 = 64 times). If you’re already using a relatively slow shutter speed due to the sun’s low position in the sky, this means that you can achieve a very slow shutter speed when using this filter.

Choosing the Correct ND Filter for Long Exposure Photography Effects

For the image above, I used a 6-stop ND filter to blur the water and create an overall softer feel to the scene. Using the filter allowed me to lengthen the exposure time to 15 seconds, which was just enough to blur the water and create some motion in the sky. As you can see, however, the iceberg in the foreground is already blurring out when using a 15-second shutter speed.

Had I instead used a 10-stop ND filter and an exposure time of a few minutes, all the ice would be blurry due to them constantly moving. On the other hand, a 3-stop ND filter wouldn’t have allowed me to slow down the shutter speed enough to blur the water and I wouldn’t be able to achieve the look I wanted.

10-Stop ND Filter

The 10-stop ND filter is perhaps the most popular filter for many who are just getting started with long exposure photography. The effect is extremely visible and the images created with it can grab attention right away. Even though there are darker filters available (such as a 16 and 20-stop), the 10-stop filter is often what people think of when talking about long exposure photography.

Choosing the Correct ND Filter for Long Exposure Photography Effects

The image above is a typical example of how a 10-stop ND filter can create a surreal look to the image. With the filter placed in front of my lens, I was able to use a shutter speed of four minutes to completely blur the lake and get a soft, dramatic look in the sky as the clouds were dragged out.

While it does require some more planning and patience than the other two filters, it is also the one that has the biggest visual impact straight out of the camera.

Choosing the Right One

As I mentioned earlier in this article, there isn’t necessarily one correct filter that you should use. Instead, you should be aware of how the different filters will affect your image and then choose the one which will get you closest to your envisioned image.

Choosing the Correct ND Filter for Long Exposure Photography Effects


Long exposure photography opens many doors and gives you several new creative elements to work with. As with anything else, a big part of this technique is trial and error but as you continue learning you’ll also begin seeing what you need to do in order to capture the images you want.

If you want to learn more about Long Exposure Photography I’ve shared everything I know in my eBook The Ultimate Guide to Long Exposure Photography. This eBook is for those who are ready to take their images to the next level and expand their creative vision.

The post Choosing the Correct ND Filter for Your Desired Long Exposure Photography Effects by Christian Hoiberg appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography

09 Oct

Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras have a feature called Bulb Mode. If you’re like me, you probably saw that in one of the menus or buttons when you first got your camera and have promptly ignored it ever since. Even the name sounds weird, and at first glance, you might think it has more to do gardening than photography. But it’s actually a very useful option that can unlock all sorts of creative possibilities with your camera.

Learning to use Bulb Mode does take a bit of practice though, and it helps to understand how it got its strange name in the first place. But I think you’ll find that the payoff is worth your time.

How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography

Lightning shot using Bulb Mode.

History Lesson

Way back in the early days of photography, long before digital image sensors existed, and autofocusing lenses were little more than science fiction, the act of taking a picture still worked in many ways like it does today. Hidden inside the sealed innards of a camera was a piece of light-sensitive film onto which an image would be projected when the camera’s shutter was opened, thus letting light pass through the lens and onto the film.

It’s the same principle that DSLRs use today. The only major change is how the shutter is constructed and the manner in which the timing is controlled. A hundred years ago there was no such thing as computer-powered cameras or precise mechanical actuators that could open the shutter for a long period of time (typically longer than one second). Instead, the photographer held a small bulb in his or her hand which was attached to the camera’s shutter by a piece of tubing.

Squeezing the bulb opened the camera shutter and releasing the bulb closed it, which meant the timing of the shutter was entirely up to the individual taking the photo. As long as the bulb was squeezed, the shutter would stay open. This method continued to be used on cameras for years to come, and it’s even possible to find bulb-style shutter releases for cameras today.

In short, think of Bulb Mode as Time Travel Mode. It basically makes your camera function like a camera from 100 years ago, when you had to squeeze a bulb to open the shutter, and then release the bulb to close it. The only major difference is that unless you literally have a bulb-style shutter release like the one pictured below, you will press the shutter button to open the shutter and release your finger to close it. Pretty neat, isn’t it?

How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography

Squeeze the bulb to open the shutter on this Pentax 35mm film camera. Release the bulb to close the shutter. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Bulb Mode Today

Most modern cameras allow you to set the shutter speed anywhere from 1/4000th of a second and 30 seconds, which gives you an incredible range of creative photographic possibilities. These shutter speeds work in tandem with a camera’s light meter, as well as the ISO and lens aperture, to help you get properly-exposed images with little to no fuss or hassle. With that in mind, the idea of squeezing a bulb to keep the shutter open seems more than a bit anachronistic. Why would anyone want to hold the shutter open manually when you can just dial in a preset value for the shutter speed and not worry about anything else?

The benefit of Bulb Mode is that it lets you keep the shutter open for as long as you want. The timing is not specified by you, the camera, or anything else which means it’s entirely your decision whether to use a fast, slow or extremely slow shutter speed. Using Bulb Mode, it’s possible to leave your shutter open for one, five, 10 minutes or even longer. The only limitation is your camera’s battery and your own degree of patience, which opens the door for some amazing photographic opportunities.

How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography

Finding Bulb Mode

Shooting Mode Dial

Canon mode dial, B is Bulb.

The first step in using Bulb Mode involves figuring out how to access it on your camera, especially if you did not have even known it existed and have never tried to look for it. Because Bulb Mode involves controlling the shutter you might think that you need to first put your camera in Shutter Priority mode, but that’s generally not the case.

For most cameras, you actually need to use Manual Mode and then set your shutter speed to as low as it can go. You will likely see decreasing speeds of 5 seconds (your display may show that as 5″), 10 seconds, and so on, all the way down to 30 seconds at which point one more click of the dial will put your camera into Bulb Mode. If this doesn’t work for you it’s possible your camera simply doesn’t have Bulb Mode (most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras do have it, on some Canons, it is on the Mode dial as B). If you really aren’t certain just Google the brand and the model of your camera along with the words “bulb mode,” which will likely turn up some useful results.

How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography

Instead of showing a shutter speed along with a light meter, my camera’s LCD screen now displays the word “bulb” to indicate that I have entered Bulb Mode.

Understanding Bulb Mode

Once your camera is in Bulb Mode a couple of things go a little haywire and you may think your camera is broken. Before you send it in for service, just know that everything is fine…but different. Right away you’ll notice that your camera’s light meter no longer works, and there is no indication of what exposure settings you should be using to get a properly-exposed image.

This happens because your camera has no idea how long you want to leave your shutter open, and without that information, it doesn’t know whether to indicate if the final image will be overexposed, underexposed, or just right. This can make Bulb Mode positively primitive territory, and if you have ever wanted to know what your photographic forebears had to deal with when taking pictures 100 years ago you now know firsthand.

The best way to figure out which settings to use is to simply start experimenting. The more you use Bulb Mode you will start to figure out what settings like aperture and ISO might be appropriate given the scene you are photographing. However, there are some general tips that can be applied, which I will cover in the next section.

Holding the button

The other weird thing about Bulb Mode, which directly hearkens back to the earliest days of photography, is the manner by which the shutter is controlled. To open the shutter you press the shutter button (a sentence which is most likely eliciting rolled eyes due to how obvious it sounds). However, there’s a catch.

The shutter stays open only while your finger is pressing the shutter button. It’s just like squeezing a pneumatic bulb in the early days of photography. As you might guess by now, the way to close the shutter is to take your finger off the button. It’s a strange feeling, and if you have a DSLR handy I invite you to give it a try right now. Go get your camera, put it in Manual, spin the control dial until you’re in Bulb Mode, and take a picture. I’ll wait.

How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography

Using Bulb Mode

Did you snap a photo? I bet it felt kind of strange to have the shutter open and close only when you pressed and then released, your finger from the button. This, of course, brings up the next logical question of how do you actually use Bulb Mode to get good pictures? While each person will use it in their own way, there are a couple of guidelines to think about if you want to get good results.

Low light

Bulb Mode is most useful when you have little to no ambient light. It is almost worthless in daylight or in a well-lit room (unless of course, you are using really good ND filters to block some of the light) The best time to try it is at night when everything is pitch black except what you are hoping to photograph.

Setting up to use Bulb Mode

It’s important to keep your camera steady with a good tripod. You are typically dealing with really long exposures, and even the vibration from your finger pressing the shutter button can affect the resulting image. So the sturdier your tripod is, the better your images will turn out. If you have a cable release or some kind of remote shutter trigger for your camera, now is a great time to use it. Make sure you have one that either locks or counts the exposure for you (if you’re using the small wireless one that camera with your camera, you may need to click it once to open the shutter in Bulb Mode and click it again to close the shutter).

Note: You cannot use the 2-second self-timer in conjunction with Bulb Mode, it will not work.

Finally, try using a small aperture of f/8 or f/11 and a low ISO setting like 100 or 200 since the shutter speed is the independent variable in most Bulb Mode photography. This isn’t a requirement, but depending on your subject you might need a wider aperture or higher ISO, particularly if you want to shoot images of stars or capture star trails or other astrophotography phenomena.

How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography

I was able to capture a bolt of lightning by holding the shutter open, and the long exposure also shows movement in the clouds too.

When to use Bulb Mode

Now it’s time to experiment and really have fun with Bulb Mode. Everyone will use it in a different way, but here are a couple of ideas to get you started.

  • The next time a thunderstorm rolls in, use Bulb Mode to capture lightning strikes. The longer you leave the shutter open, the more lightning bolts you may be able to capture.
  • Try light painting, and experiment with using different kinds of light on familiar subjects you might already have just laying around.
  • Set up your tripod next to a road and shoot light trails as traffic passes by at the night.
  • For a variation on light trails, get a friend have some fun with fire spinning. Note that safety must always come first in these situations, so be sure to keep yourselves, your gear, and the environment around you safe from damage. The best place is a beach with no one around.
  • You don’t need fireworks either, and you can get great results with different sources of light from flashlights to sparklers to twirling glow sticks.
How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography

Using a long exposure helped me turn this ordinary jar of pasta into a surreal glowing work of art.


These ideas are just scratching the surface of what Bulb Mode can do. The best way to learn is to try it for yourself. If you have any particular tips for using Bulb Mode that you think others would enjoy, or some ideas to try that I didn’t mention here, please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

The post How to Use Bulb Mode for Long Exposure Photography by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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As Seen on TV: Distorted Long Exposure Portraits

26 Sep

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While Waiting for Hyperloop, Sleep Through Long Drives on Cabin Buses

02 Sep

[ By SA Rogers in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

Someday, we’ll supposedly be able to zoom from one city to the next in no time flat thanks to the Hyperloop, but that day is not today. Elon Musk’s high-speed transit system Hyperloop One has been successfully tested, and promises to cut the 400-mile trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco down to just 30 minutes, but it’ll take it a while to get off the ground. In the meantime, our options are still limited to air travel, personal vehicles, trains and buses. Buses are easily accessible and cheap, but they cost a whole lot of time and discomfort instead.

If you’ve ever taken an inter-city bus trip, you know how it goes. More often than not, you’re crammed in with dozens of other people, breathing stale air, hoping the person coughing next to you won’t get you sick. Even worse, inter-city bus travel is notoriously inefficient, requiring a lot of stops and ultimately taking a lot longer than it would if you were driving a car. Ever wish you could just block out your surroundings and sleep through it without drooling on somebody’s shoulder?

A new service called ‘Cabin’ aims to bridge the gap between bus travel and air travel with comfortable one-person sleeping pods, so you get your own private little area in which to stretch out and lay down during a long drive. The company bills itself as “the dreamiest way to travel between LA and SF,” acting as a hotel on wheels that transports you to your destination while you’re sleeping.

The company worked with hospitality architects to “completely reinvent the bus as we know it,” outfitting each pod with hotel-like amenities like free wi-fi, fresh bedding, complimentary water, tea, coffee, earplugs and even a melatonin supplement to help you fall asleep.

With a round-trip cost of $ 230 to get back and forth between San Francisco and LA, Cabin definitely isn’t the cheapest option; you can take a Bolt bus for just $ 50, and many airlines offer routes between the cities for as low as $ 69 each way. But we all know how much comfort airlines have sacrificed in recent years to keep their costs down, and an air trip with a pod this cozy would cost many times that amount. Plus, there’s no dealing with airports, hidden fees or traffic.

The future of inter-city travel will likely include self-driving vehicles and highway trains, but for now, this seems like a pretty cool option, especially for people who feel particularly stressed about flying. Cabin launched last year as SleepBus, and after a highly successful test run, raise $ 3.3 million to continue, with plans to expand to the East Coast.

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[ By SA Rogers in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

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20 Aug

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Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

03 Aug

Have you ever come across beautiful cityscape photos captured at twilight and dusk (the so-called “blue hour”) with silky smooth water, like this Marina Bay (Singapore) photo below, and wonder how you could do that yourself? Assuming that you’ve already got your camera (a body and lens), let me go through some of the other gear that is required to do stunning long exposure photography at twilight and dusk.

Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

Marina Bay (Singapore), shot at 35mm, f/11, for 194 seconds (just over a 3-minute exposure).

Use a Tripod

A tripod is the single-most important piece of gear for photographers shooting at twilight and dusk. Photos shot at these hours require long exposures sometimes lasting for many seconds or even minutes. Therefore, a sturdy tripod is absolutely essential for keeping photos blur-free.

Unlike your camera body, a tripod isn’t something you will upgrade often. So, try to get the best possible tripod within your budget. A good tripod could last a lifetime! I own a Manfrotto MT190CXPRO3 Carbon Fibre Tripod (supports up to 7kg). If your tripod doesn’t come with a tripod head (like mine), get yourself a steady ball-head or 3-way style, whichever you prefer (I own Sirui K-20X Ballhead that supports 25kg).

Tripod - Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk


Mini tripods come in handy at locations where a full-size tripod isn’t allowed inside (e.g. The observation deck of a tower). I own a Joby Gorillapod Focus for DSLRs which supports up to 5kg. It has a dedicated ball head (Joby GorillaPod Ballhead X for Focus) that you can buy as a bundle, but I’m using my own ball-head (aforementioned Sirui K-20X Ballhead) as I feel it’s redundant to have two.

Mini tripod - Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

Clamp Tripod

A clamp tripod is another tool that comes in extremely handy when there is no appropriate space to set up a tripod. I own the Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp without Stud (supports up to 15kg). Into that, I plug the separately-sold Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter (or a cheaper alternative Manfrotto 037 Reversible Short Stud) into the socket in order to firmly mount a tripod head and camera on top of that. Then I clamp the whole setup onto handrails, etc. This setup is rock solid and is a game changer for us cityscape photographers aiming to take very sharp photos at twilight and dusk without using a full-sized tripod.

Clamp infographic - Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

This graphic shows how to mount a DSLR on Manfrotto Super Clamp by using a camera mounting platform adapter.


  1. Plug a camera mounting platform adapter into a Super Clamp socket and secure it with the double lock system.
  2. Mount a tripod head with DSLR on the mounting platform adapter, just like you do with your regular tripod.

Clamp - Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density (ND) filters help reduce the light that is coming through the lens, allowing your shutter speed to be extended much longer. This is a must have tool if you want to create the silky smooth water effect typically seen in long exposure photography.

ND filters come in different strengths such as; 3-stop, 6-stop or 10-stop. The bigger the number, the darker the filter and the less light that is let through. My favorite is 6-stop ND filter (I own a B+W 6-Stop ND Filter). With this attached to my lens, a base exposure of 2 seconds (i.e. when no filter is attached) can be extended to 128 seconds. Each “stop” of the ND filter doubles the required exposure time (2 seconds > 4 seconds [1 stop] > 8 seconds [2 stops] > 16 seconds [3 stops] > 32 seconds [4 stops] > 64 seconds [5 stops] > 128 seconds [6 stops]), which is long enough to create silky smooth water effects.

Filters come in two types, screw-on and square filters. If you’re getting screw-on filters, be careful with the size of filter you’re purchasing. It depends on the filter thread size of your lens (e.g. 77mm for Nikon 12-24mm, 67mm for Canon 10-18mm, etc. – look inside your lens cap for the filter size of that lens). If you have two or more lenses with different filter thread sizes that you’d like to use an ND filter on, get one that fits your largest lens (i.e. lens with the largest filter thread size). Then purchase a step-up adapter ring to make the single filter fit into other lenses with smaller thread sizes.

Filters - Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

Left: Screw-on ND filter. Right: Drop-in square filter (image courtesy of Tiffen).

Or, you can get a square ND drop-in filter instead, along with a holder and adapters (check out at these options we’ve reviewed and featured here on dPS). The advantage of square filters is that you only need one filter to fit all of your lenses. That said, I still prefer screw-on filters because they take up less space in my camera bag and I only own one lens that takes front filters (my trusty Nikon 18-35mm with 77mm filter thread), anyway.

Wireless Remote or Cable Shutter Release

This is another essential tool, as it lets you take photos without touching the camera and helps keep your photos sharp. No need to get a pricey one, though. I’m still using a Phottix IR-Nikon (wireless remote) that I bought years ago for $ 20 (it is available for Canon as well).

Wireless remote - Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

Long Exposure Calculator App

When you use a semi-manual mode (e.g. Aperture Priority), the shutter speed cannot exceed 30 seconds on most DSLRs. With a 6-stop ND filter used at twilight and dusk, much longer than a 30-second exposure is required. So this is where you’ll need to switch to Manual Mode and take the full control of the camera yourself.

But, how will you know the correct exposure time (shutter speed) to use when your camera no longer assists you? Well, there are a number of free phone apps that help you determine a correct shutter speed. I’m using Long Exposure Calculator app by Junel Corales (get it here for iOS devices or here for Android).

Long exposure calculator - Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

By setting your filter density (e.g. 6-stop) and base shutter speed (e.g. 2-seconds), the Long Exposure Calculator app automatically calculates the required shutter speed you will need to use (2 minutes and 8 seconds [128 seconds] in this case).


A lenskirt is a handy tool when shooting through the glass window of an observation deck, hotel room window, etc., as it helps eliminate reflections (such as yourself, room lights) off of the glass window. It might catch the unwanted attention of other visitors due to its odd shape but it has worked quite well for me and has found a permanent place in my camera bag when I’m traveling.

Lenskirt - Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

Lenskirt in use on the 100th-floor observation deck of the Shanghai World Financial Center. By attaching it to the lens and its pushing suction cups onto the window, it shades the front element of the lens and cuts reflections from the glass window, leaving no chance for any stray light to get into the camera.


That’s all about it. I hope this will get you started with long exposure photography at twilight and dusk. For me, dusk is the most beautiful moment of the day. It ends in the blink of an eye, and that’s what makes it even more special. Try to capture the beauty of long exposure photography at twilight and dusk with this gear.

If you have any other pieces of gear you use for long exposures that you find indispensable, please share them in the comments below.

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How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

03 Jul

Get 53% OFF Kevin’s Long Exposure Photography eBook on sale now at SnapnDeals until July 11th.

First of all, I want to clarify for you what type of long exposure photography this article discusses.

You won’t be learning any techniques regarding the creation of photographs at night, or in the low light levels that you might experience with architectural interiors, (even though those examples do require longer exposures).

No, the type long exposure photography that this article refers to most often occurs in bright daylight.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

Perhaps, you’ve already studied up a bit on this genre of photography? Maybe you’re familiar with the streaking clouds and creamy waves of water, which are often depicted in long exposure photographs.

The reason that the long exposure technique is so awesome, is that it creates an illusion of motion in a still image. That look of motion creates a visual presence that is virtually impossible to mimic using post-processing software.

You may have even purchased gear for long exposure photography such as; neutral density filters, graduated neutral density filters, a camera release, and a good sturdy tripod. Once you know how to assemble all of that gear, it seems like the photo creation process should be pretty straightforward. Right?

Well, it’s not. And, you likely realize this if you’ve been disappointed in some of your results.

A photographic fail that often occurs in long exposure photography is because of the subject selection, and that’s what you will be learning about in this article. You’re going to get some important tips on how to evaluate and choose, a subject for the best long exposure photography.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

Selecting a subject for long exposure photography

Subject selection is extremely important to successful long exposure photography. In fact, the subject selection process is so important that it can radically alter the technical steps in your creation of the image.

First, and foremost, in the subject selection process is that something needs to be moving. It’s the motion that creates the tension in the composition. You probably already realize that there needs to be motion.

The second, and perhaps less obvious component is that some element of the photograph should be rock steady. This isn’t an absolute, and sometimes if everything is moving it can lead to some pretty cool results. However, in general, you will want some aspect of your photograph to be rock steady and sharp.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

The image above is an example of a long exposure photograph where everything is moving. It’s a pretty cool result. However, if you’re not interested in an abstract look something needs to be still and sharp in your image. Otherwise, your photograph will simply look out of focus.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

Look for contrast

The next important factor is to search for contrast.

With long exposure photography, you will often be pointing your lens at clouds, water, or moving crowds of people. The movement of these subjects, as they blend through the image (as a result of their motion), tends to fall into the highlight end of the histogram scale (very light tones to absolute white).

Look at the image above. You’ll notice that most of the movement is captured in the bright highlight to the upper mid-tone scale of the histogram.

If you don’t want your photograph to look flat you need some tones on the far shadow end of the histogram. Some good solid shadows, or dark objects, are needed to balance off the highlights. If you don’t include something on the dark end of the scale, your image may look lackluster.

How do you accomplish that? Primarily, through your choice of the angle between the camera point-of-view, the subject, and the light source. A proper angle creates shadowing.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

In lieu of that, you can also manipulate tones in post-production to create a full range of tonality.

The main point

If you’re looking at your scene, and you hold your arms out straight to the left and right, the light source should be coming from somewhere in front of your arms. If the light source is behind your arms, it will likely not provide you with the contrast that you’re looking for through shadowing.

There is one exception.

If the scene contains objects that are dark or very black, then the angle of the light becomes less important- as those photographic elements will provide the necessary contrast.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

In this image, there was almost no directional light for this long exposure shot. This resulted in very low contrast.

Although the image above could have been made using much shorter exposure time, it was important to give the water enough time to create the long sleek ribbons of highlights. This image was exposed for 30 seconds.

The original camera raw file was completely flat in contrast. There were plenty of highlights to work with (as a result of the long exposure technique), however, there were no contrasting shadows, and they had to be created in post-production.

Angle of view

Your next concern in subject selection is the angle of view from the camera to the source of the movement.

If you look at the left image below, the red arrows point toward the photographic elements that were intended to highlight the long exposure effect. Yet, you can barely see the effect.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

There are two factors that will control how well you will see the effect in your long exposure efforts.

The first issue is the length of time for the exposure. You may think to yourself, “If a 4-second exposure looks good then a 30-second exposure will look amazing!” This isn’t necessarily the case. An extended long exposure can actually wipe out the effect if it’s too long. Much depends on the overall scene.

The second issue is the one that’s depicted above, and that is the angle of view; from the camera point of view to the elements creating the motion. If the motion is lying in a plane that is too parallel to the camera point of view, then the motion becomes minimized.

Look at the image on the right above. In that example, the camera is looking down onto the movement. The angle between the plane of movement and the camera point of view has been increased resulting in a more dramatic capture of the motion.

When choosing your subject, keep in mind the angle of view between the camera and the motion.

Could the left image above been better? It could have worked out more successfully if the camera had been moved closer to the cliff.

Could a change in the lens focal length, say to a longer telephoto, have helped? That wouldn’t have helped much as the angle of view would still be too low.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

This leads to your final decision in the subject selection process for long exposure photography.

Lens selection

What focal length are you going to need for your shot?

Long exposure photography works best when using a focal length that falls somewhere between an ultra wide-angle to a very moderate telephoto lens.

Longer telephoto lenses don’t lend themselves well to long exposure photography because they accentuate camera movement. This is true, even if you’re using a sturdy tripod and a camera release. It doesn’t take much movement to soften an exposure of 20-seconds or longer. You may not even perceive the movement.

Vibration from the wind, or even the vibration of the ground beneath you, can ruin your images. For example, if you’re set up on a bridge deck, you may not even feel the very slight motion of the bridge in a wind or when cars pass. However, enough consistent movement of the camera will ruin a long exposure.

Working with lenses in the 14-85mm focal length range will help you get sharp pictures. Keep this in mind as well, it’s helpful to look for a windbreak if there are any near your intended camera angle.

Once, you’ve chosen a subject, using even slight variations on the focal length of your lens, or camera position can lead to some exciting and varied results.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

In the image above, an 18mm lens was used to capture an expansive looking landscape. The long exposure technique highlighted the waterfall, which becomes a major element of the composition, even though it is fairly small in the frame.

How to Select a Subject for Long Exposure Photography

After experimenting with several longer focal length lenses, and not being happy with the results, a simple camera move of about 100 meters resulted in a much different photograph while still using the same 18mm lens.

To summarize the key considerations for subject selection in long exposure photography:

  1. Something in the scene needs to be moving (most often clouds, water, or crowds).
  2. Unless attempting an abstract, something in the scene needs to be steady and completely in focus.
  3. Look for subjects that have natural contrast, or visualize how you will create the contrast in post-production.
  4. Select a subject, or subject angle, where the light source is not behind the camera to achieve good shadowing for contrast.
  5. Choose a subject, or camera to subject angle, that isn’t parallel to the camera point of view. You want the camera pointing downward or upward toward the subject.
  6. Choose a subject, or a camera to subject position, that allows you to use a focal length lens that falls between 14mm and 85mm. Be mindful that if you use a lens that is too wide, the effect might be pushed back and not very visible. On the other hand, if you use a lens that is too long, you may have issues with camera motion. Be experimental. Check your results right there on the camera LCD screen for sharpness and the motion effect.
  7. The Wind is always a concern in long exposure photography. When choosing your subject, look for a windbreak that you can use at the camera position.

Get 53% OFF Kevin’s Long Exposure Photography eBook on sale now at SnapnDeals until July 11th.


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2017 Roundup: Enthusiast Long Zoom Cameras

10 Jun

Last updated: June 9, 2017

While most of new 1″ sensor enthusiast cameras have been on the shorter end of the focal length spectrum, there are now quite a few long zoom models, as well. Whether you want something pocketable or want to shoot for the moon (pun intended), you’ll find it in this group.

There are plenty of other long zoom compacts out there, some offering focal ranges reaching 2000mm though they use much smaller 1/2.3″ sensors. The larger sensors used in the cameras in this roundup completely eclipse those models, especially when it comes to image quality and control over depth-of-field.

The models we’re looking at in this article include:

  • Canon PowerShot G3 X
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500/FZ2000
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100/TZ100
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III

With the exception of the Panasonic ZS100/TZ100, all of these cameras are pretty hefty, so don’t plan on stuffing those into a pocket. Focal ranges are all over the map, ranging from 200mm on the Sony RX10 I/II to 600mm on the Sony RX10 III and Canon G3 X. The vast majority of these cameras shoot 4K video, with some having more controls than others.

To further help you pick the right camera in this class, we’ve created the chart below, which breaks down the equivalent aperture for each camera, as you work your way through the zoom range. Our article here explains the concept of equivalence, but at a high level all you need to know is that the lower the line is on the graph below, the blurrier the backgrounds you’ll be able to get and, typically at least, the better the overall low-light performance.

LensEquivalentApertures([“Equivalent focal length (mm)”,”Panasonic FZ1000″,”Sony RX10 II”,”Canon G3 X”,”Panasonic ZS100″,”Sony RX10 III”,”Panasonic FZ2500″], [[24,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Sony RX10 II at 24mm: F7.6″,7.6363636363636367,”Canon G3 X at 24mm: F7.6″,null,””,6.5454545454545459,”Sony RX10 III at 24mm: F6.5″,7.6363636363636367,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 24mm: F7.6″],[25,7.6363636363636367,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 25mm: F7.6″,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Panasonic ZS100 at 25mm: F7.6″,6.8181818181818183,”Sony RX10 III at 25mm: F6.8″,7.9090909090909092,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 25mm: F7.9″],[26,7.9090909090909092,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 26mm: F7.9″,null,””,null,””,7.9090909090909092,”Panasonic ZS100 at 26mm: F7.9″,null,””,null,””],[27,null,””,null,””,8.7272727272727284,”Canon G3 X at 27mm: F8.7″,8.1818181818181834,”Panasonic ZS100 at 27mm: F8.2″,null,””,null,””],[28,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Sony RX10 III at 28mm: F7.6″,8.1818181818181834,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 28mm: F8.2″],[30,8.1818181818181834,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 30mm: F8.2″,null,””,null,””,8.7272727272727284,”Panasonic ZS100 at 30mm: F8.7″,null,””,8.454545454545455,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 30mm: F8.5″],[32,null,””,null,””,null,””,9.0,”Panasonic ZS100 at 32mm: F9.0″,null,””,8.7272727272727284,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 32mm: F8.7″],[34,8.454545454545455,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 34mm: F8.5″,null,””,null,””,9.2727272727272734,”Panasonic ZS100 at 34mm: F9.3″,null,””,null,””],[35,null,””,null,””,9.5454545454545467,”Canon G3 X at 35mm: F9.5″,null,””,8.7272727272727284,”Sony RX10 III at 35mm: F8.7″,9.0,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 35mm: F9.0″],[36,null,””,null,””,null,””,9.5454545454545467,”Panasonic ZS100 at 36mm: F9.5″,null,””,null,””],[39,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,9.2727272727272734,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 39mm: F9.3″],[41,8.7272727272727284,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 41mm: F8.7″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[43,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,9.5454545454545467,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 43mm: F9.5″],[47,9.0,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 47mm: F9.0″,null,””,10.90909090909091,”Canon G3 X at 47mm: F10.9″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[49,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,9.81818181818182,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 49mm: F9.8″],[51,9.2727272727272734,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 51mm: F9.3″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[56,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,9.5454545454545467,”Sony RX10 III at 56mm: F9.5″,10.090909090909092,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 56mm: F10.1″],[58,9.5454545454545467,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 58mm: F9.5″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[60,null,””,null,””,12.272727272727273,”Canon G3 X at 60mm: F12.3″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[63,9.81818181818182,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 63mm: F9.8″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[69,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,10.363636363636363,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 69mm: F10.4″],[70,10.090909090909092,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 70mm: F10.1″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,10.636363636363637,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 70mm: F10.6″],[79,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,10.90909090909091,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 79mm: F10.9″],[81,null,””,null,””,13.636363636363637,”Canon G3 X at 81mm: F13.6″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[84,10.363636363636363,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 84mm: F10.4″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[91,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,11.181818181818182,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 91mm: F11.2″],[100,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,10.90909090909091,”Sony RX10 III at 100mm: F10.9″,null,””],[102,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,11.454545454545457,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 102mm: F11.5″],[105,10.636363636363637,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 105mm: F10.6″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[144,null,””,null,””,null,””,15.818181818181818,”Panasonic ZS100 at 144mm: F15.8″,null,””,null,””],[151,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,11.727272727272728,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 151mm: F11.7″],[157,null,””,null,””,null,””,16.090909090909093,”Panasonic ZS100 at 157mm: F16.1″,null,””,null,””],[163,null,””,null,””,15.272727272727273,”Canon G3 X at 163mm: F15.3″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[170,10.90909090909091,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 170mm: F10.9″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[200,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Sony RX10 II at 200mm: F7.6″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[208,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,12.000000000000002,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 208mm: F12.0″],[250,null,””,null,””,null,””,16.090909090909093,”Panasonic ZS100 at 250mm: F16.1″,null,””,null,””],[262,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,12.272727272727273,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 262mm: F12.3″],[400,10.90909090909091,”Panasonic FZ1000 at 400mm: F10.9″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[480,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,12.272727272727273,”Panasonic FZ2500 at 480mm: F12.3″],[600,null,””,null,””,15.272727272727273,”Canon G3 X at 600mm: F15.3″,null,””,10.90909090909091,”Sony RX10 III at 600mm: F10.9″,null,””]])

With its F2.8 constant aperture lens, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 I & II capture more total light and offer more control over depth-of-field compared to its peers, by 1 or 2 stops. The trade-off is that its focal length caps out at 200mm equiv. The Canon PowerShot G3 X and Sony RX10 III have the longest lenses, with the latter being about 2/3-stop faster once hitting around 100mm. The Panasonic FZ2500 splits the difference between the G3 X and RX10 III.

And with that out of the way, let’s get right into exploring the enthusiast long zoom cameras!

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