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Long Exposure Photography by Douglas Day

About a month ago, I uploaded the photograph below, on the TI Life’s facebook page.  Readers suggested I used Photoshop, but I actually took that image with a short half second delay.   The effect captured the motion of the river on a windy day. 

Susan Smith, TI Life's editor, immediately wrote and asked if I would share some of my knowledge, about taking photographs, using a long exposure.


As it turned out,  the one half second was the perfect time lapse; any longer and the ship would be blurred out.

The photographs below are perfect examples of a long exposure.  The time lapse can be 246 seconds…  Yes, you read that right!  That is a little over four minutes long, pretty cool right?

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How can you accomplish something like this?  First, a camera which allows you to manually control exposure time.  For a long exposure, you use a feature called Bulb Mode.

You will also need a sturdy tri-pod, because any little movement will cause a blurry photograph. 

For exposures longer than 30 seconds, you will need a remote shutter. It really doesn't matter what brand you buy, whether it is wireless or not, but you need to be able to control how long you want your exposure to be.

There is a secret weapon - 10 Stop Neutral Density Filter, I use a B+W 110 Filter.  The filter tricks your camera into thinking that it is much darker than it actually is.  It will be difficult to focus with the filter in place, so focus the image first. 

When your composition is exactly as you want, focus on your beautiful landscape and switch your focus mode to manual, so that when you go to take your shot, your camera will not attempt to refocus.

I love to shoot very dramatic landscapes, during sunrise and sunset.  The photograph of the Thousands Islands Bridge, I shot at F16 ISO-50 for 261 seconds. You will notice the clouds appear to be blazing across the sky and the choppy St. Lawrence was peaceful – all the result of the extremely long exposure.

Now for this next image, over-looking Mirror Lake; this was shot at F14 ISO-100 for 30 seconds.  It was sunrise and the lake was very still, (hence the name) but the clouds that morning, were moving very fast.


This is only a 30 second exposure, but you can see I didn't need a 260+ second exposure, to create the dramatic effect I was looking for.

The photo below, was taken at Seventh Lake and was shot at F20 ISO-50 for sixty seconds.  Using the 10 stop filter, tricked my camera into thinking it was very dark outside. Now if you noticed, all my camera settings have one thing in common; a very low ISO, so that I get the absolute sharpest image possible.  I also use a very small aperture.  

Who says that a picture just has to capture one moment, frozen in time? I have lost count of the number of people that walk-up smiling because it appears that I am just standing there, with my remote shutter in hand. They ask "hey what are you waiting for?" I always smile and just point out and say nothing.  It's happening right then!

If you have any questions, please let me know. I am always open to share what little I know about photography. I hope that I have opened your eyes to what is possible, if you just experiment; get creative and have patience!

To see more of Doug Day’s photography, see his facebook page and or his website

By Douglas Day

Douglas Day was raised in the Midwest, and says he was given a Polaroid camera and “pretty much went crazy taking pictures of everything from grass, bugs, sunsets…” He was also fascinated by the world and joined the Marine Corps, where he spent ten years with the “best Men and Women on earth.”   Today, he and his wife, Judy and their three children, live in the North Country and he serves as an Air Traffic Controller. Be sure to visit his website:  DDay Photography or on facebook

Posted in: Photography
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Pat Wallis
Comment by: Pat Wallis ( )
Left at: 9:18 PM Sunday, June 15, 2014
Douglas, your article was very interesting. Seen all your work and very impressed on all that u have done. Keep up the good work, and good luck.