Photography is not just about keeping the camera at the right angle and clicking pictures. It’s an art, a skill set that takes a lot of time to master. There is a camera trick that one can learn to create images that never tire the viewer’s eye. A great photographer can click a dynamic photo even in the loneliest and most boring place. On the other hand, someone who doesn’t have great photography skills can make the most photogenic places boring.
One such camera trick that can click the most impressive photos is the long exposure mode. If you remember those photos or videos where still objects look crisp and clear and moving objects are beautifully blurred, then you understand what long exposure is?
Surprisingly, you don’t need expensive DSLRs to click jaw-dropping long exposure photos. Your iPhone camera is enough to steal the moment. All you need is to learn how long exposure photos work and how to click a perfect one And for this, we are here to help you.
What is long exposure photography?
As the name suggests, long exposure means that the images are exposed to light for a long time. If you are a photographer, you will know that the amount of light that enters the camera depends on the shutter speed which determines how long the shutter is open to take a picture.
A faster shutter speed means the shutter will be open for a shorter time and thus capture the image in a fraction of a second. On the other hand, a slow shutter speed means that the shutter will be open for a long time and thus it will capture more light than usual. Long exposure photos are taken at slow shutter speeds.
Now let’s discuss what’s special about long exposure photos and what results you’ll get if the camera’s shutter speed is set low. If you have ever clicked photos at night, you will notice that they are not as good as you see with your eyes. When there is a low light environment, your camera is unable to capture more light in it and thus your pictures are mostly dark and blurry.
In such situations, long exposure photos can work wonders. If you keep the shutter speed low and let more light into the camera, you will get brighter and crisper images in the same low light environment. You’ve seen those photos of galaxies and night photography. It may seem impossible to you to take such photos and you will think that it requires professional skills but it is actually very easy if you know the concept of long exposure photos and how to use your camera for it.
What is the Live Photo feature on the iPhone camera?
You may have been using your iPhone camera for a while and wondered where to find that long exposure setting. Well, it’s hidden in the iPhone’s Live Photos feature. Before we show you the steps to take a long exposure photo, let’s first talk a little about the Live Photo mode on the iPhone camera.
When this mode is enabled, your iPhone will capture the entire moment for 3 seconds instead of just taking a photo . You can also play it as a video with audio. The iPhone records what happens before and after you tap the shutter button to take your live photo.
Another amazing thing about Live Photo is that you can apply effects to it later in the Photos app. Three effects are available namely Loop, Bounce and Long Exposure. When you select Long Exposure, your iPhone will automatically convert your Live Photo to Long Exposure. You will see a smoother motion blur effect with more light in the image.
Take long exposure photos on iPhone with Live Photo
Now that you know all the basics and background details, it’s time to learn how you can take stunning long exposure photos on your iPhone. Here is a step by step guide –
Open the Camera app on your iPhone . Go to Photo mode and enable the Live Photo option from the top right (it’s a small icon with three concentric circles). If there is a line through it, that means Live Photo is off . Now set your iPhone camera as you want to capture the image.Tap the shutter button below to take your shot . Remember to hold your device still for a few seconds before and after you press the shutter. Once the photo is taken, click the thumbnail in the bottom-left corner to open it . Alternatively, you can go to the Photos app and view your Live Photos from there. Click on Live Image option at the top left corner and then you will see different effects. If your iPhone is running some iOS version older than 15 years, you will need to swipe the image to reveal these effects. Now choose Long Exposure and it will automatically convert your Live Photo to Long Exposure Photo.
Take long exposure photos with Night Mode on iPhone
You can also take long exposure photos with night mode on the iPhone camera. When you’re in a low-light environment, your iPhone camera will automatically turn on night mode and choose the best shutter speed by analyzing the amount of light entering it. You can also adjust the shutter speed if you want. Here’s how you can use this feature to take long exposure photos –
Open the Camera app on your iPhone and click on the Night Mode icon in the top left corner . Please note that this icon will only appear when you are in low light. You’ll see the number of seconds in this icon that the iPhone itself has chosen for the shutter speed. After you click on the night mode icon, you will see a slider at the bottom.
By moving this slider, you can manually set the shutter speed for your photo. This can go up to a maximum of 10 seconds. Once you’ve set it, point your camera at the scene you want to capture and then tap the shutter button. Make sure to keep your device as still as possible. If you shake it a bit, your image may become blurry. We recommend you use a tripod for this. So you can take long exposure photos on your iPhone with night mode. Go to the Photos app and see the results.
Where you can take long exposure photos
There are several instances where taking a long exposure photo will give you better results than taking a simple photo. Here we discuss some situations where you can use long exposure to take your photography skills to the next level –
When you’re in a low-light environment, you need more exposure to take good photos. You can get some truly mind-blowing results by setting your iPhone camera to a slower shutter speed in such cases.
Motion blur effect
Have you ever seen a picture in which flowing water (such as a river or waterfall) looks very smooth? This is called motion blur effect. If you’re capturing something moving like flowing water or a car, you can use long exposures to give your photos a smooth blur effect like this.
Follow the light
Another popular use of long exposures is to photograph light trails. You’ve probably seen those professional night photographs with moving traffic lights or skyways. Guess what? Your iPhone camera can also take such pictures. Light trail photography is possible with longer exposure settings.
Tips for taking good long exposure photos
Taking good pictures with long exposures is not something you can achieve overnight. Most likely, you will get a blurry picture on your first attempt. Knowledge is not enough to learn long exposure photography but you also need to practice. Here are some important tips that you should keep in your mind –
Keep your iPhone as still as possible when taking a long exposure photo. Even a slight shake can blur your image. We recommend you use a tripod and place your iPhone in a stable and safe place. Do not use long exposures if there is already enough light. If you need it (eg in case of motion blur effect), use Live Photo mode which will automatically take the best shot according to your environment.
iPhone has undoubtedly the most powerful camera and it has more potential than you can imagine. In the past, long exposure photography was only possible with professional DSLR cameras, but the iPhone is the only smartphone that makes this possible on a mobile platform. We hope you find this guide helpful and learn something new about iPhone photography here. Share this post with your friends and let us know if you have any questions.