How to take long exposures

May 13, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

One of my favorite photoshoots is night photography with lights.  That can be with traffic, street lights, fireworks, or any other light source you can come up with.   This technique is not near as hard as you might think if you have never done this.  For this blog post, I am going to show you a "not so obvious use" for long exposure.

Have you ever wanted to get a photo of a scene, but people were walking in the scene?  This technique with long exposures is used when you want a photo of some object or scene with people moving through the scene.  Probably the only item you may not have in your bag of gear would be a neutral density filter.  With a neutral density (ND) filter you can get this photo with people moving through.  If you decide to purchase one, I would recommend an 82 mm for size and purchase step-down rings for any smaller lenses.  Lens Filters are not cheap and you can avoid having to purchase duplicate lens filters.

So stick with me and I will give you some tips when taking a long exposure when people are in the scene using an ND filter.


ISO 100 (but flexible)
Shutter Speed 15 to 30 seconds
Aperture: up to you but a low aperture helps blur moving object in backgrounds
Focal length: Whatever you want
ND 6-10

For the photo below I added an ND filter to get the shot even though people were walking through my scene.  For this, I took many photos before landing on the settings described below. A tripod is a must for this to be successful.


Long Exposure with ND Filter
ISO 400
Shutter Speed 30 seconds
Aperture F6.3
Focal Length 24mm
Sample Gates at Indiana UniversitySample Gates at Indiana UniversitySample Gates at Indiana University

Give this a shot.  Pun intended.  You can practice in your own backyard.


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I am glad you found my blog.  I am a photographer with a passion for awesome shots.  I go to great lengths to capture many of my photos.  I will re-visit a location over and over knowing there is a spectacular photo just waiting to be had if I am there at the right time.   I also enjoy finding how to do some abstract projects (check out my time-lapse post) and will be writing about them.

Send me a note via my contact page for some projects you would like to see me try and write about.  I am not afraid to try almost any project.  Doing the obscure forces me to do things that I don't do with the typical photo shoot and helps me learn even more.