Techniques For Long Exposure Landscape Photography

Landscape photography can be so much more creative with long exposures. They add that extra wow factor to your landscape image.

Here are the top tips to help you take better long exposure photography.

Look for Overcast Weather To Add More Interest to Your Photos

When I scout for a new location, or I search the internet, I always have long exposure photography in mind.

You can do long exposure landscape photography almost anywhere on the globe. You need to know where and when to find an element that moves at an adequate speed.

The two main subjects are water (including waterfalls, seas, streams) and clouds in the sky.

But there may also be other possibilities. For example, a car’s lights moving on a winding mountain or hill road. Or the movement of stars in the sky.

One of the less considered aspects of this kind of photography is the weather.

A sunset or sunrise with a cloudless sky can be beautiful to see live. A unique experience. But it can turn into a boring image because there’s no movement in the sky.

Even worse is leaving home with a beautiful sky overhead and then arriving at the shooting location only to find bad weather.

Track the Sun’s Position To Avoid Overexposed Areas

The position of the sun and the path it will follow are also important when planning long exposures. It is a good rule to exclude the sun from the composition as much as possible.

The first reason is that with long exposures, the sun will no longer be circular. But you will start to see its movement during the exposure.

Plus, it will create an overexposed area that is close impossible to correct in post-production.

Focus a Third of the Way Into the Scene To Avoid Blurry Results

After deciding about your long exposures composition, you should set your focus point. For a landscape shot your lens will be set to an aperture value of f/10 or f/11. You should try not to go over f/16 to not stumble on diffraction problems. It will cause unsharp images.

Don’t use aperture to make a shot last longer. But what if you think that your shutter speed is not slow enough? This is where ND filters help a lot.

You can even try this simple trick to be sure of your focus point. You can try to focus on one of the two lower intersection points of the rule of thirds.

Lower Your ISO to Avoid Digital Noise

Now that you decided the composition and you set the focus point, it’s time to move on to the technical aspects of photography.

We start from the ISO. You are taking landscape pictures with a tripod and the camera fixed on it. So set the ISO as low as your camera allows.

Forget the so-called “extended” downwards and upwards values. These are only electronic changes to the sensor’s native sensitivity values.

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