Tips on Long-exposure Travel Photography (Part 2)

Posted June 23, 2013 by Paul Xymon García in Photography

To recap, long-exposure photography is a type of photography which involves setting the shutter speed very low, thereby sharply capturing stationary elements and blurring moving elements within the frame. We started with four tips on long-exposure photography in the part 1 of this post. The remaining four are below. All these tips will help you begin your venture into the very challenging yet very addictive long-exposure photography.

1. You can do long-exposure photography with or without a tripod.

More photos of Hoi An, Vietnam here

The quaint and charming little Old Town of Hoi An in Central Vietnam.

A tripod is actually not necessary when you do long-exposure photography. Sure, having a tripod is convenient and if you can invest in one, then by all means. However, if you do not have a tripod, fret not. You can still do long-exposure photography. It is just really about being resourceful. All you need to do is spot a steady elevated surface like a rock, a railing, or your own bag. The photo of Hoi An above was actually taken with the camera set up on top of a rock. I have a photo of Malacca at night taken with the camera on the wooden railing of the riverside boardwalk. As I mentioned in part 1, stake out your location well, and be resourceful.

2. Secure the camera strap.

More photos of Chiang Mai's Temples here

One of the largest temples in Chiang Mai: Wat Chedi Luang. The shot was taken during a windy night.

When doing long-exposure photography, you need to remember that your camera becomes extra sensitive to movement in the few seconds it takes to capture your long-exposure photo. The tiniest movement could destroy your shot blurring even your stationary elements. Once you check your viewfinder and see your shot ruined, you need to set up again, and again, and again. Securing your camera on a steady surface or a tripod is not enough. You need to secure the camera strap, too, or any other contraption attached to it in order to prevent them from flapping about, especially when it is windy.

3. Use the camera timer.

Tiger Beer

Bottles of cold Tiger Beer. Photo was taken in a particularly dark bar on Pub Street, Siem Reap.

Aside from securing the camera strap, it will also do you well when doing long-exposure photography to use the camera timer. You have one goal: You want your finger or any part of your hand and body to be well away from your camera the second it starts taking the shot. As mentioned before, any sort of movement, however little it is, will ruin your shot. Setting your camera timer to two or five seconds of delay will do the trick.

4. Keep a low ISO, a low aperture and an even lower shutter speed.

Wat Lok Molee, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Lok Molee in Chiang Mai. Photo was taken in a dark area using ISO 200, F5.6 and a shutter speed of 30 seconds.

Finally, for your camera settings when doing long-exposure photography, you need to bring your shutter speed down to a second or even slower. It may be five seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds. To help you do this, you need to bring down your ISO to 200 or lower. Your aperture, too, must something that will permit you to use a slow shutter speed, maybe around F6, F7, or F8. When shooting in daylight, you may even need to bring your aperture down to F13 or to F22 even. The goal in long-exposure photography after all is to allow your camera to shoot in a very slow shutter speed. You do this by manipulating your ISO and aperture.

This wraps up the tips for long-exposure photography. This type of photography may be challenging, but as you will soon discover as you look at each spectacular photo you produce, you will realize that long-exposure photography does have its rewards.

About the Author

Paul Xymon García

Paul Xymon Garcia is a Filipino, born and bred in Manila. He studied journalism and is now pursuing a career in travel writing and photography. His stories and photos have been published in several Philippine-based publications such as CebuPacific Smile Magazine, Meg Lifestyle Magazine, and Travel Magazine. He has contributed to a photography exhibition organized by the United Nations Population Fund. He blogs at

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