Bangkok at night

Long Exposure

Photo Essay

One of my greatest joys in photography is making long exposure photos. Whether it be a 15-second shot of the northern lights, a 2-minute exposure of a sunset or a 30-second shot of a city, as I’m waiting for the camera to do its magic I can look around and enjoy the world without the camera in my face. For someone who takes 300-500 photos a day when I’m out traveling, this break – while also getting to make photos! – is a refreshing change of pace.

Long exposures have a way of a softening the edges of life – a traffic jam becomes a river of light; a rough sea becomes a placid mirror; a busy square magically becomes devoid of people. It liberates the camera from making a copy of the world and allows it to make art. It also requires more patience and planning, since long exposures are almost always shot in manual mode and sometimes with a neutral density filter, I have to think about what I’m doing and not just fire away rapidly.

Below is a collection of long exposure photos I’ve made around the world in different settings. Click any photo for a slideshow view.

Long Exposure Photo Gallery

Do you shoot long exposures? What is your favorite part of photography?

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I have photo prints available on my portfolio site.

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Currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~

22 thoughts on “Long Exposure”

    • Thank you. That square in Rome was actually fairly busy with people, but they all melted away in the long exposure. Thank you for commenting!

  1. In the past, sometimes I took my tripod on my travels. But I rarely used it, because I was (still am) rather impatient when I had to deal with a tripod. But looking at your stunning photos makes me wonder if I should give my tripod another chance. All the photos in this post are incredibly beautiful, Jeff!

    • Thanks Bama. Tripods can be a hassle for sure. I looked back through the set, and the last three photos I just rested the camera on a surface without a tripod. The shot in Venice I put it on one of the wooden poles, balanced just right. I shot that top photo in Bangkok with one of those Gorilla pods wrapped around a metal rail – it was my first time to use it. I take my tripod anytime I shoot sunsets in Alaska though because you just have to have it to do it right.

    • The best place to learn is in the city at dusk. It is a lot of fun to see what you get after the shot is over!

  2. Todd Duffey Writes on Things says:

    Fantastic images! Long exposures are amazing – it’s said that a picture can say a thousand words. But that’s for a moment. Long exposure is multiple moments, all put into one image! I am getting into very small subjects in my shots, close up. It gives the minutiae a voice.

    • True, the long exposure is an average or mixture of time. Macro photography is fascinating. What types of items are you shooting close up?

  3. Jeff, these photos are an inspiration. My husband and I are taking a photography course and last week we were “practising” long exposure shots at the sink with running water. It was super fun to see what effects we could create. I really like what you can do with water (your river shot in Denali is wonderful).

    • Thank you Caroline. It is always interesting to see what you get after the long exposure shot. I like shooting waterfalls, rivers, etc with it because it just always makes it more interesting. Will you be posting any of your long exposure shots on your blog?

  4. Wonderful images! Love each of them.

    I do take long exposure images. It was my favorite photography, now I am into underwater photography 😀 Oh well, I will return to long exposure soon, I have to capture those amazing waterfalls in the USA!

    • Your underwater shots are awesome, and I can see why you enjoy it. I have turned more towards street photography and long exposures mainly because I got bored with shooting regular things and normal landscapes. Your underwater shots are all unique and difficult to pull off.

  5. You create magic with your camera. I think I’ve said that before, but after looking at these photos, I believe it’s worth saying again!!

  6. I love long exposure and you certainly seem to have it mastered! I am rarely without my tripod, shutter release cord and gradient neutral density filter!

    • I have a little remote control for my Canon camera and I always kick myself when I forget it! I don’t have a gradient filter but I enjoy my ND filter.

  7. Pingback: My Top 10 Photos from the Summer that Wasn’t | Planet Bell

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