Nighttime Long Exposure

So this week I thought I’d write about night time long exposure as it’s one of my favorite photographic styles. This type of photography can be lots of fun but you need to be careful, especially shooting along roads at night and police will often stop to see what you are doing late at night along a highway.

I have had a lot of students ask me how to do night time long exposure and it’s really pretty easy and some trial and error. You will need the following equipment:

1. DSLR camera with a charged battery and memory card installed
2. Good, sturdy tripod
3. Remote shutter for your camera, I recommend a cable release or Triggertrap
4. A good, sharp lens, aperture doesn’t really matter but I prefer something like the Canon 40mm STM Pancake lens with F/2.8

Now, just find a good location at night, I prefer to shoot after 11pm myself but your mileage may vary. Set your camera up on your tripod and hook up the cable release. You will need BULB mode on your camera as your shutter setting. Now, set your lens to as wide as possible and set your focus to manual mode and your ISO to 100.

They way I do it, I wait until a nice stream of vehicles are coming and then press the cable and hold it for 20-30 seconds and you can get some pretty cool warp speed effects that makes the cars look like they are streaking by. The image below is one I shot I call Wall of Light. This image was actually chosen by AI to be in a school publication last year.

This is a night time long exposure of the cars driving along Hwy 78 in Walton County, GA.

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Night time long exposure is not limited to shooting traffic along the road, you can use the exact same settings to shoot landscapes as well, say a nice home in your area or just about anything. I am also including one I did of a local lake at night I call this one Twilight Lake. This image was chosen by an independent judge to be in AI’s Veteran’s show last year in the Second Life gallery. As you can see, you can make some fantastic images at night, so don’t think daytime is the only time you can shoot.

Cooper Lake

Go on out there and try it for yourself!