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Long Exposure:The Complete Guide to Long Exposures

Langzeitbelichtung der Guide für Anfänger

Photography allows us to precisely define the duration of a captured moment. From a frozen fraction of a second to capturing a period of several hours, we can act almost seamlessly and implement the intended effect as desired.

We capture this information, collected along the timeline, in a single image. The viewers, on the other hand, can then choose whether they want to inspect all the details closely or simply let the overall impression sink in for a few seconds. With a long exposure you can  great photographic effects  achieve!

are by day photo filter howgray filter andGraduated Gray Filter enormously helpful, which we will discuss separately later. Basically we need for one convincing long exposure specific Equipment and essential supplies , so that no blurring occurs due to camera shake.

 

Langzeitbelichtung Vergleichsfoto

What is a long exposure?

In the case of long-term exposures, we use the options of freely selecting the exposure time for completely individual effects or messages. Because the mirror-smooth sea, the streaks of movement in the clouds, traces of light, the contrasts of the immovable objects in the picture as well as pictures completely devoid of people, animals or vehicles are not motifs that you can see as a casual observer.

You move very strongly in the area of surrealism or expressionism.

Langzeitbelichtung KĂĽste

In fact, the human eye rarely sees such drama as is possible with a longer exposed image.

Long-term exposures are also often used as a test for beginners who need to become familiar with the fact that even the most sober photography can only ever be an interpretation, but never a true depiction of reality. But let's leave the philosophical corner and turn to the concrete requirements of long-term photography:

What exposure times do I use for long exposures?

Most photographers understand long exposures as shots with exposure times of several seconds. However, the time after which you can no longer shoot a photo out of your hand without blurring is significantly shorter.

For example, for action and sports photography, we need fast lenses in order to be able to reduce the shutter speed enough to freeze the moment. For long exposures, on the other hand,tripods mandatory.

Without an image stabilizer, you can hold your camera steady for an exposure time that corresponds to the reciprocal of the focal length in 35mm format. For example, if you take photos with a normal lens that has a focal length of 50 mm, you can hold 1/50 of a second out of your hand.

If you use a telephoto lens with a focal length of 200 mm, you can only do 1/200 second freehand. Longer times require a tripod. An electronic image stabilizer gives you some leeway, usually two or three exposure values. Each light value doubles the possible exposure time. For example, 1/60 second becomes 1/30 second. But in order to get into the area of real long exposures, you can easily exceed the limits of seconds and even minutes, and this is where it helps us Aperture exposure time rule of thumb unable to continue.

What equipment do I need for long exposures?

First of all, of course, a camera that actually allows exposure times beyond the seconds period.

Kamera auf Rollei Stativ

As a professional, you probably take this for granted, but beginners should make sure that this option is available when looking to purchase their first camera.

Furthermore, the release should also be possible via a remote control and offer stepless adjustment of the exposure time. A mirror pre-release on DSLR cameras ensures that as far as possible no mechanical, camera-internal influencing factors have a negative effect on the sharpness of the image. Because even folding the mirror away at the moment of the shutter release can ensure that a minimal vibration blurs the actually razor-sharp subject.

Real long-term exposures of several seconds or even minutes cannot be realized manually, even with a modern stabilizer. In addition to the camera, a stable tripod is therefore obligatory.

What should I look out for when using a tripod for long exposure times??

A solidtripod is therefore a prerequisite. Under no circumstances should you save money here, because without a secure and stable stand, neither a high-end camera nor the most expensive filters make sense. Because a reasonable and robust outdoor tripod can also be used in the studio without any problems and for many other photographic applications.

Kameras vor Landschaft

Ideally, it should have an appropriate tripod shoulder height and width. This not only guarantees the widest possible radius of the unfolded tripod legs, but also ensures that your back does not suffer from the constant bending over and that you can also focus on the desired subject over obstacles. Make sure thattripod andtripod head are sufficiently dimensioned for the weight of your camera. The legs of the tripod should extend so far that you only need the center column in exceptional cases, as it is much more sensitive to vibrations. From the outset, do without the option of including the center column in the total height. This only serves as an emergency solution and should not be pulled out more than a hand's breadth.

If you walk a lot, you should opt for aCarbon tripod model decide, this material reduces the overall weight and vibrations considerably and still shines with high stability and load-bearing capacity.

Rollei Stativ aus Carbon

A hook at the bottom of the center column ensures that you can attach additional weight (e.g. a photo bag or backpack) to increase stability and shift the center of gravity down. Of thetripod head should be able to swivel 360 degrees and also be light and stable in order to be able to hold the camera at exactly the same height and without vibration over a longer period of time.

This brings us to the third area of equipment that is important for long exposures:

Which filters do I need for long exposures?

Filters are often used here that require long-term exposure or allow for daytime exposure.ND filter only allow you to reduce the incidence of light through the lens so that you come into the range of the long exposure in order to be able to take more atmospheric pictures.

There are two systems, depending on requirements and budget:

round filter are suitable for beginners and do not require a separate filter holder,square filter are easier to combine and represent the high-quality solution in this discipline. Maybe start with oneround filter medium intensity, possibly with onevariable ND round filter. Once you have found a liking for filter photography and long exposure, the potential is highersquare filter to disposal. These can be done with onefilter holder to the different lens diameters adapters assemble.

If you have decided on round filters, you should be aware that the material of the filter rings can expand or contract if you expose your photo equipment to temperature differences. In the worst case, filters can no longer be unscrewed for the time being. In order to permanently avoid this risk, there are Rollei Extremium round filters whose titanium rings withstand even extreme temperature changes.

square filter you can easily combine theRollei filter holder accommodate up to three filters. They can be moved vertically steplessly against each other, the rotatable filter holder allows any desired angle.

Rechteckfilter mit Filterhalter

Incidentally, you should not underestimate the vibrations that you transmit to the camera simply by the shutter release. It usually takes a short moment for the system to calm down again. Therefore are remote trigger an excellent purchase.

It doesn't matter whether you choose a wireless or wired model.

Kamera mit Fernauslöser

Please also note that the viewfinder of your DSLR camera should be fitted with a cover. Because with longer exposure times, even the minimal light that can fall through the viewfinder onto the sensor causes unwanted spots in the image, which cannot be explained without knowledge of this connection and quickly frustrate beginners in particular.

You can also work with black insulating tape, but this quickly becomes annoying in the long run. Alternatively, for cameras that have a removable viewfinder cap, a second one can be obtained as a replacement and covered with adhesive tape - a tried and tested interim solution if no alternative is available..

What do I have to look out for in the camera settings??

goodtripod,remote trigger, and still blurry images Don't worry, it's not because of your photographic skills. If you take your photos with a single-lens reflex camera, the movement of the oscillating mirror causes strong vibrations in the camera immediately before the picture is taken..

Our tip: Look for mirror lockup in the camera menu. Similar to the self-timer, there is some time between folding up the mirror and the actual recording, in which the camera can rest. Switching to live image also prevents mirror slap.

All current camera models now offer this option, the resolution and color fidelity of the live view mode already allows a good assessment of the later image. The range of mirrorless high-end cameras that are suitable for long exposures is also constantly increasing. Another advantage of this camera category: compact dimensions..

Which motif is suitable for the long exposure?

Now that you have the necessary equipment, you know the points to consider and you are looking for your first subject for the long exposure. When choosing your motif, there are two different categories:

  • motives a day
  • motifs at night

Let's start with the first category:

motives a day

Flowing water or a crowd scurrying around a still pole here you need to make sure you get a long exposure..

Wasserfall fotografiert mit Langzeitbelichtung

To do this, close the aperture as far as possible (large f-number) and lower the ISO sensitivity to the lowest value. If that's not enough to increase the exposure time to one second or more, one will helpND filter, which swallows light without changing colors. At least one immovable part of the motif should be present. Otherwise everything is in flux and the interesting contrast between fixed and moving components does not come about.e.

Some motif components change their optical appearance completely through long-term exposure.

Wasser fotografiert mit Langzeitbelichtung

A rough water surface becomes mirror smooth or a streak pattern, (with apolarizing filter also transparent) glass surface, clouds lose contrasts and fissures and become an imposing cloud train.

If you want to bring additional mysticism into the picture, you can also take photos in a heavily populated place, which becomes completely deserted with a sufficiently long exposure or on which people can only be seen dimly.

Langzeitbelichtung mit Bewegungsmuster

The pattern of movement can be seen in the upper image: In the rear area you can see that people stood still during the exposure, people moved a lot in the foreground on the left and people stood on the reeds on the right who moved around the tripod.

motifs at night

One possibility is to realize the long-term exposure at night, because here you need long exposure times anyway due to the low ambient light. Night shots that use lights to trace movement sequences that are not visible to the naked eye are particularly impressive.

Las Vegas fotografiert mit Langzeitbelichtung

Headlights and taillights on a busy street, turning carousels at the fair and fireworks are typical motifs.

Kirmes fotografiert mit Langzeitbelichtung

With a little skill you can conjure up your own light art with an LED lamp, a laser sword or a sparkler. When shooting the starry sky, you wait for a moonless night. If you want to try photographing lightning during a thunderstorm, stay inside a building or car. There you are better protected from lightning than in the open field or under trees.n.

Another very interesting and multifaceted sub-category in the field of long-term exposures is astro or star photography. A location that is outside the light domes of metropolitan areas is essential for photographing the stars or our Milky Way. Usually you have to move about 10 to 20 kilometers away from the center of light pollution to get the clearest possible view of the night sky. The best locations for astrophotography are near observatories and observatories that require a location that is as free as possible from light smog. ist.

For example, if your next holiday takes you to the Canary Islands, be sure to take your long exposure gear with you!

motives for practice

The ideal location for an impressive long-term recording has static and dynamic motif parts that are roughly balanced in terms of tension, drama and creative potential. It should be kept in mind that images are generated here that contradict the natural visual experience of the eye. But don't worry: over time you will train your eye and find potentially worthwhile locations for long-term photos better and faster.

Motorway bridges day and night, a subway tunnel with a train coming in, the cloudy sky during a storm or a creek with rapids are all good ways to gain initial experience and a sense of achievement.

Langzeitbelichtung eines Baches

As with every photographic discipline, the secret of success lies in having a precise understanding of the optical interrelationships and having experimented extensively in practice. Practice makes perfect here too!

How do I go about long exposures?

Since the respective exposure time depends on the general conditions on site, each long-term recording session begins with test recordings and exposure tests.

It is important that you focus your lens before putting on the filter and then deactivate the autofocus.

Kamera auf Rollei Stativ im Wasser

Because experience has shown that even with moderate ND filters, you can no longer see the actual subject exactly - the autofocus often starts to jump from one area to the next because it can no longer find a useful orientation point. Then switch your camera to manual or bulb mode, or control the exposure time entirely with the remote control..

You have found the right location for a long exposure if you can act there completely undisturbed and if nobody stands in your way..

Kamera und Rollei Stativ auf Berg

Narrow alleys, escape routes or busy squares with pedestrians are therefore less suitable. After you've also disabled image stabilization and mounted your filters, just snap a few test shots. Play with the values ISO, time and aperture and feel your way towards the result you want. Then judge the result on the histogram.

A reasonable result is obtained with a histogram that is not truncated on the left and does not show any significant peaks on the right, but still covers the entire spectrum..

Tips for impressive long exposures

  • Wide-angle lenses with fixed focal lengths use a wide angle of view offers a good view of the subject, short focal lengths offer a large focus areah
  • Make as much effort as possible when focusing initially. The movement of the dynamic image component is responsible for the blurriness in the imageg
  • Soft and flowing movements (water, clouds) look great in contrast with stationary elements (mountains, stones, trees, buildings)
  • Think about which filter strengths you want to combine with each other
  • alwayspolarizing filter have with you that can intensify blue and green tones and enhance contrasts
  • When reflective water or glass surfaces are desired CPL filter can encourage that

Langzeitbelichtung Frankfurt

Bonus tip: reduce long exposure image noise

The sensor of a digital camera heats up as the exposure time increases. Cameras therefore usually have a limit for the longest possible exposure time.

Nevertheless, there is increased image noise and so-called hot pixels. Enable noise reduction for long exposures in your camera. The camera then takes an additional picture with the shutter closed and uses this comparison picture to calculate out disturbing pixels. Please note, however, that your camera will be blocked for the time of the second recording. So you cannot take pictures in quick succession. However, this option is usually not required for extended exposure times, the use of filters and remote releases.

Conclusion

Long-term recordings are certainly one of the most exciting and creative photographic options, also because our eyes cannot produce the resulting effects themselves..

New York fotografiert mit Langzeitbelichtung

 

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