We’ve all been there. You’re standing in front of an amazing landscape with the camera in your hands ready to take beautiful pictures but there’s one problem: there are hundreds of people surrounding you and obscuring the scene, making it difficult to capture a good-looking image.
In my photography classes I often get asked, “What is a long exposure?” Many beginning photographers want me to give them a definitive shutter speed with my explanation. However, long exposures are not only subject driven, they are largely based on the artistic vision you have for your photograph. Panning, light painting and night photography all make use of long exposures. However, these techniques are subjects of a future article. Today I would like to discuss “really” long exposures, exposures in excess of several minutes. These types of exposures create surreal, dreamlike images. They use neutral density filters (think sunglasses for your lens) to extend exposure times far in excess of what could be achieved by simply decreasing ISO and stopping down your aperture.
Quite a few people have emailed me in the past to write about shooting cityscapes with a long exposure and I have repeatedly asserted that while it is not especially complicated, I am certainly no expert on the subject. In fact, finding the time to write an article about it was a much greater challenge!
If you have experimented with long exposure photography, you may have seen light leakage issues in your images. For the uninitiated – your camera is a light tight body that is intended to allow light from one end only, and that’s the front of the lens. Light only enters when you press the shutter release. Normally, your camera wouldn’t allow light to enter through any other opening in the camera. However, unless you have a badly manufactured camera, there is typically only one source that could potentially harm your images, and that’s your camera’s viewfinder. Let’s talk about what you can do to mitigate light leaks during those long exposures.