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How to Shoot Motion Photographs At Night With Slower Shutter Speed

How to Shoot Motion Photographs At Night With Slower Shutter Speed

Night is an incredible motive for street photography. Cityscapes are lit with a myriad of interesting and colorful light sources, such as lampposts, neon signs, store windows, car lights, and bare bulbs. People dress in their favorite outfits to go out. Bland scenes by day can suddenly turn ominous and fascinating at night. Here are some recommendations for capturing those shots:

Slow down your shutter speed

The reason for movement blur is simply that the amount of time that the shutter of a camera is open is long enough to allow your camera’s image sensor to ‘see’ the movement of your subject.

During the day, you will typically use shutter speeds that are a small fraction of a second. At night, however, the camera will use shutter speeds that are longer than one second – sometimes significantly longer. Think of it this way: because it is dark, the camera needs a longer period of time to gather light for proper exposure.

boat floating on amsterdam river

The shutter will now be open for a longer period of time, so the camera needs to be held steady or the picture will move during the exposure process, causing your image to be blurry. That is why a tripod is required equipment at night. You can leave the shutter open as long as you want, as long as the camera is steady and does not move at all.

Tripod + Shutter release

There are two ways to get a feeling of movement in your images – have your subject move or have your camera move (or both).

In this type of shot, you need to do everything that you can to keep your camera perfectly still or in addition to the blur from the subject, you’ll find that the whole frame looks like it’s moving as a result of using long shutter speed. Whether it be by using a tripod or have your camera sitting on some other still object you’ll want to ensure that camera is perfectly still.

A remote shutter release will avoid vibrancies that will result in blurred images during long-exposures. MIOPS Smart+ will allow you to set the desired time of exposition and we recommend, having 30 seconds as a starting point.

traffic lights at night

Aperture

The aperture is the opening in the lens that lets light into the camera. The size of the aperture determines the amount of light being let into the camera for given shutter speed, and it also affects the depth of field.

For the most part, there is no difference between how you will use the aperture at night versus how you use it during the day. The only difference is that the camera will struggle to get enough light for proper exposure, so a small aperture will often require ridiculously long shutter speeds. In addition, the background is usually black, so you don’t need to worry as much about achieving a wide depth of field.

clouds moving above new york skyline at night

ISO

ISO is a measurement of the sensitivity to light of your digital sensor. Higher ISO values make your digital sensor more sensitive to light and thereby allow you to use a shorter shutter speed or a smaller aperture.

Using higher ISOs will result in more digital noise in your pictures. Since dark areas of your picture tend to show more digital noise than lighter areas, it is often a problem with night photos. Therefore, resist the temptation to crank up the ISO at night if you can help it.

Since you will be using a tripod, you can usually avoid the need to use a high ISO or set to the minimum, such as 50 or the default, 100. However, in those cases where you cannot use a tripod or you have a moving subject, you will need to increase the ISO.

person shot at night in long exposure

Try shutter priority mode

One of the most important settings in photographing an image that emphasizes movement is the shutter speed. Even small changes in shutter speed will have a big impact upon your shot – so you want to shoot in a mode that gives you full control over it.

This means either switching your camera into full Manual Mode or Shutter Priority Mode. Shutter Priority Mode is a mode that allows you to set your shutter speed and where the camera chooses other settings (like Aperture) to ensure the shot is well exposed. It’s a very handy mode to play with as it ensures you get the movement effect that you’re after but also generally well-exposed shots.

The other option is to go with Manual mode if you feel more confident in getting the aperture/shutter speed balance right.

 

Related Article: Night Photography, How to Shoot Stunning Light Trails

About The Author Manuel Delgado:

Manuel Delgado is an award-winning photographer with a specialization in travel and documentary photography. He writes for Contrastly and is a Mentor for NGO Photographers Alliance, having led workshops in Africa with a focus on ethical and humanitarian photography. His work has been exhibited in Europe and the Americas.

Driven by an innate curiosity for his surroundings, Manuel´s process is mainly focused on capturing people in their natural environment; translating through his lens the subtle threads of daily life that are shared across cultures, borders, and races. Depicting people from diverse backgrounds, his work is united by a shared aesthetic that serves to tell each individual’s story. Manuel is currently living in Düsseldorf, Germany. 

Manuel Delgado Instagram Profile

Why Do You Need a Remote Camera Trigger for Landscape Photography?

person on the canoe drifting on a big river shot by a camera trigger

Remote camera triggers are considered "must-have" photography accessories, and they are indeed useful. But there's more to the story than that.

It’s no surprise that these are popular accessories, especially for landscape and nature photographers. And, on the face of it, remote releases – e.g., a way to capture photos without pressing the camera’s own shutter button – seems like a logical idea.

Opinion about them is quite diverse, not all photographers need a remote release, including a lot of landscape photographers. And other photographers may need one even if they’ve never considered such an accessory before.

a long exposure sunset with waves

Remote shutter release

A remote shutter release is an easy and inexpensive way to immediately improve the quality of our images. Additionally, the remote shutter release allows for more compositional freedom.

A remote shutter is something you may have heard repeatedly that you need to purchase, especially if you’re into landscape photography. One of the main uses of a remote shutter is to minimize the vibration when taking an image to get a sharper result.

Benefits of a remote shutter release

  • Pressing the shutter button on a remote does not move or shake your camera, while the same cannot be said of the camera’s own shutter button.
  • Remote releases let you shoot ultra-long “bulb” exposures with practically no upper limit on shutter speed.
  • Some remote releases – wireless ones – allow you to stand farther away from your camera while taking a picture.
  • Some remote releases have additional options like intervalometer, lightning trigger, remote control of camera settings, and so on.

a group of birds flying at sunset

On-camera delayed shutter

Most digital cameras have a delayed shutter function. In fact, even smartphones have it. A delayed shutter is, in simple words, a function that tells the camera to wait a few seconds after you push the shutter before it takes the picture. This allows you to either run in front of the camera and take a selfie or reduce the amount of vibration.

This function is especially useful when you’re using a slow shutter speed and have your camera mounted on a tripod. If you use a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds and press the shutter, you’ll see that the image will come out less sharp than if you use a delayed shutter.

Cons of the delayed shutter

  • It’s not flexible.
  • If you’re photographing something with motion, it’s hard to time the shutter release perfectly and you might miss the shot.
  • In some cameras, the function is found deep in the menu.

fields of green

If you are into landscape photography, a remote shutter is recommended. On many occasions, it won´t be possible to wait the extra two or three seconds before the image is taken, as the moment is gone by then. Capturing the image at the exact moment you will want, will be possible through a remote shutter, such as MIOPS Smart+ or Remote Plus.

By removing the need for you to physically press and hold—in the cases of long exposures—the shutter button on your camera, you eliminate the possibility of your wavering hands from causing unwanted vibrations during the shot.

Related Article: Suggested Camera Settings for Landscape Photography

About The Author Manuel Delgado:

Manuel Delgado is an award-winning photographer with a specialization in travel and documentary photography. He writes for Contrastly and is a Mentor for NGO Photographers Alliance, having led workshops in Africa with a focus on ethical and humanitarian photography. His work has been exhibited in Europe and the Americas.

Driven by an innate curiosity for his surroundings, Manuel´s process is mainly focused on capturing people in their natural environment; translating through his lens the subtle threads of daily life that are shared across cultures, borders, and races. Depicting people from diverse backgrounds, his work is united by a shared aesthetic that serves to tell each individual’s story. Manuel is currently living in Düsseldorf, Germany. 

Manuel Delgado Instagram Profile

Essentials For Capturing Stunning Golden Hour Photographs

Long exposure photograph captured during golden hours

There are no times of the day that is more famous for photography than “Golden Hour” — sunrise and sunset. Although great light can happen at any time, the edges of the day are perhaps the most consistent sources of inspiration you can find. Here are 4 must-haves that will make your workflow easier:

Neutral Density (ND) Filter

These are exceptionally handy for many scenarios, but they’re especially useful for sunrises and sunsets in giving you longer exposure opportunities when the sun is still producing a lot of light and your shutter speed can’t get quite low enough for a really long exposure.

Sunset photograph captured at golden hours

These come in a variety of stops and types, such as your standard circular screw-on kind, or the square/rectangular kind, where you use a filter brace/holder on your lens.

6 stops is a good starting point for most. They’re a great in-between filter option in that it’s not too fast or slow for most situations. Having a 10-stop (or higher if needed) is useful for the times when you want to photograph a bit earlier before sunset and a little later after the sun has risen so that you’re able to have the flexibility of a long exposure during those times as well.

Circular Polarizer (CPL) Filter

Among a diverse selection of filters you can purchase on the market, these seem to have the most questions about what to use them for. These are excellent for managing reflections off of glass and water surfaces and enhancing results with the sky and clouds in your images.

The filter is manually rotated one way or another to varying degrees, to influence exposure to light levels. Adjusting light exposure reduces reflections, glare, and haze. This also boosts color saturation and contrast, making images appear richer, clearer, and more vivid.

Photographers setting their tripods to take long exposure photographs at sunset

Tripod

Behind a camera body and lens, a tripod may be the next most important piece of photography equipment you can buy. Even if you have the steady hands of a surgeon, it's still not as good as the stability that a good, solid tripod can provide. And the more stable your camera, the sharper the photos that it can capture.

A professional landscape photographer, who is frequently out in the field and traveling the globe shooting in all weather conditions, should have a professional quality tripod.  They rely on their photography, and on that tripod to a great extent, to provide a paycheck. 

Don’t forget when you’re using a tripod to turn off your Image Stabilization. You might not realize it but with your camera, on a tripod, it’s still trying to correct motion even if there isn’t any unless you’re on a moving platform or pier and in that case having it enabled can improve your chances for a much sharper image.

golden hours photography

Shutter Remote

Having a remote trigger such as MIOPS Smart+ is important to have in setting up for the perfect long exposure of a sunrise or sunset.

Most of the times, the maximum many cameras can go in-camera is 30 seconds, which works just fine, but if you’re wanting more dramatic looking images you would want to go longer. Adjust your timing for how extensive you want any kind of motion to be in your image to obtain your desired look.

Sunset photography can be a lot of fun to do.  The nice thing is you don't have to travel far to do it.  There is a sunset every day and it can be captured from virtually anywhere.  Even in your own backyard.  Not every day will have a great sunset, but many will.

To catch the Golden, Blue or Twilight hours of the day, you can download our Golden & Blue Hour app from your app store.

Download Golden & Blue Hour App for Android

Download Golden & Blue Hour App for iOS

Dubai captured at golden hours

Related Article: Best Tricks for Shooting Stunning Long Exposure Photographs

About The Author Manuel Delgado:

Manuel Delgado is an award-winning photographer with a specialization in travel and documentary photography. He writes for Contrastly and is a Mentor for NGO Photographers Alliance, having led workshops in Africa with a focus on ethical and humanitarian photography. His work has been exhibited in Europe and the Americas.

Driven by an innate curiosity for his surroundings, Manuel´s process is mainly focused on capturing people in their natural environment; translating through his lens the subtle threads of daily life that are shared across cultures, borders, and races. Depicting people from diverse backgrounds, his work is united by a shared aesthetic that serves to tell each individual’s story. Manuel is currently living in Düsseldorf, Germany. 

Manuel Delgado Instagram Profile

The Basic Guide To Understanding Lens Filters

UV lens filter pointed to the flower inside grass

Have you ever been out photographing in the outdoors when another photographer turns up and starts screwing random filters onto their lenses, or slipping semi-transparent squares in front? UV filters, polarizing filters, neutral density filters, graduated ND filters, etc. What do all these filters do? How do you use them? And most frustratingly of all, "How come my photos don't look like that?"

Why using filters?

Filters help minimize glare and reflections, enhance colors, reduce the light coming into the lens, and more. Each lens filter serves a specific purpose, as each one is built to deliver a specific effect that can help enhance the final look of an image.

Neutral Density filters is widely used to capture long exposure photographs at day time

-To protect your lens

The most affordable types of lens filters are those that are clear and simply used for protection. These are great for protecting the front lens element during normal shooting situations, as the clear glass does not affect your images in any way. Protective lens filters eliminate the possibility of scratches, cracks, and dust accumulating on the surface of your lens.

-To correct or enhance colors

There are certain types of photography filters that can alter or boost the colors in your images. Some have the ability to correct the color temperature of a scene, while others can enhance color and contrast for a more vibrant image.

-To get an accurate exposure

When working with particularly difficult lighting conditions, filters are a great option for achieving even and accurate exposure across your entire image. They do this by blocking some of the light that enters the lens (in varying degrees). These are particularly helpful when shooting outdoors during the daytime, particularly when using fast shutter speeds may not be enough to avoid overexposure.

Person holding a yellow color filter at hand

Filter Types

-Square filters vs. Screw-on filters

Compared to screw on filters, the square filter consists of three parts. The filter, the filter holder, and the adapter ring. This means more things to look after and you can't use the filter system if you lose even one part of the kit. Square filters do not seal the front of the lens tight like a screw-on filter.

Circular filters, on the other hand, are a totally separate category. They're also called screw-on filters because unlike a square filter (which uses a filter holder), circular filters simply screw onto the end of the lens and onto each other.

-Polarizing filters

This type of filter will enhance an image in ways that cannot be achieved by any other method. As it's name suggests, a polarizer is a special type of filter that has the ability to block polarized (i.e. reflected) light - often seen as “glare”.

-Neutral Density (ND) filters

Unlike the polarizing filter which changes the way the image looks; ND filters aim to remain 'neutral' and simply reduce the overall amount of light coming through the lens. Like dark sunglasses for a camera, by reducing the amount of light coming through the lens, ND filters allow the photographer to purposefully compensate by slowing the shutter speed down and achieving motion blur effects, even in situations of bright light. When elements in the scene are moving, such as a waterfall, waves, clouds, or even people, a range of creative possibilities are opened up. For these-long exposure compositions, it is highly recommended to use a shutter remote control such as MIOPS´s options to guarantee a razor-sharp image.

a person holding a lens filter on his hand at night time

-Graduated ND Filters

“ND Grads”, as they are sometimes referred to, are ND filters that provide a gradually changing ND gradient across the glass plate i.e. a darker ND number at the top changing to clear glass at the bottom. They are always square or rectangular and therefore require a “square-system” mount. In today's world of digital post-processing, ND grads are far less common, but shouldn't be entirely overlooked.

-Color correcting filters

Color correcting filters, also known as cooling and warming, color conversion, or color compensating filters, are used to correct and/or enhance the color of your scene. Warming and cooling filters are great for correcting indoor lighting and making your scene look gloomier or sunnier while other colored filters are great for bringing out certain hues in a scene.

-Close-Up filters

Close-up filters (also known as macro filters or diopters) are used to enable macro photography without having to use a dedicated macro lens. Many photographers resort to purchasing these small pieces of glass than invest in more costly macro lenses, especially when they don’t necessarily have to take close-up shots all the time.

-Special effects filters

Special effects filters serve different purposes in improving your images. Perhaps the most popular type of special effects filters is the starburst filter, which effortlessly adds a noticeable twinkle to image highlights and light sources such as street lamps and Christmas lights.

Colorful Lens filters placed on top of each other

Related Article: Using ND Filter in Long Exposure Photography

About The Author Manuel Delgado:

Manuel Delgado is an award-winning photographer with a specialization in travel and documentary photography. He writes for Contrastly and is a Mentor for NGO Photographers Alliance, having led workshops in Africa with a focus on ethical and humanitarian photography. His work has been exhibited in Europe and the Americas.

Driven by an innate curiosity for his surroundings, Manuel´s process is mainly focused on capturing people in their natural environment; translating through his lens the subtle threads of daily life that are shared across cultures, borders, and races. Depicting people from diverse backgrounds, his work is united by a shared aesthetic that serves to tell each individual’s story. Manuel is currently living in Düsseldorf, Germany. 

Manuel Delgado Instagram Profile

Guide to Capturing Best Long Exposure City Time lapses

a busy city at night

Nighttime-lapses stand out from other time-lapses as they combine multiple long exposure shots into a sequence that plays back as a video. The effects and motives are infinite as imagination itself. Most cameras, from mirrorless, DSLR's and even smartphones, can achieve these results as long as they allow you to set the exposure manually. Most of the time, video cameras are limited, as they can't expose for extended intervals like photo cameras. Of course, a great solution is using external triggers such as MIOPS Smart, RemotePlus, or Mobile Dongle.

cars passing on the bridge by night

Best time for city time-lapses

Trails of light caused by cars passing by, bicycles, lighted buildings, or any urban structures lit by incandescent or fluorescent bulbs are the best scenarios to shoot. Any city will offer multiple options, but most important is choosing the ambient light to work. Shooting at night is the best because the contrast is more notable and dramatic.

It is recommended to do city time-lapses in winter because the sun sets earlier, providing a dark sky that is more suitable for capturing lighted motion. However, shooting in summer also has its advantages, providing different effects, such as working during the blue hour, which provides more fainted tones. During this time of the year, backgrounds are more full of life, like trees and bushes full of leaves, which can be more visually appealing. Also, combining day and nighttime-lapses can lead to interesting results. In the end, it all depends on the desired effect and the availability of time.

Consider shooting in raw

If you are an experimented photographer, it will be obvious that shooting in RAW is a must, but for a beginner who doesn't know the difference between using RAW and JPEG, it is important to acknowledge that saving nighttime-lapses in JPEG has a significant limitation. The main issue is, with JPEG files the dark parts of the image will be too underexposed, and the bright lights are often overexposed.  Raw photo sequences, which allows you to adjust exposure and contrast much better in post-production, reveal a lot more details that are otherwise lost in the shadows or highlights when saving them as JPEG files.

cars passing next to Allianz Arena at night

Resolution matters

As mentioned, even smartphones are capable of shooting time-lapses; however, the high resolution of the DSLR and mirrorless cameras allows you to crop and adjust the angle and position of the sequence even when creating a 4K video. Using keyframes, the time-lapse can be animated easily, making the shot look more interesting than leaving it static. That's where the Capsule Slider comes in handy. For example, you can animate a zoom or simply simulate a tracking shot.

Filters

Daytime-lapses are usually captured with a neutral density filter attached to the front of the lense. For nighttime-lapses, different filters can be very handy as well, for example, light pollution filters. These filters are designed to block out the wavelengths of light emitted by Sodium Vapor Lamps, the main cause of light pollution. A quality light pollution filter will allow the colors and light emitted by the subject to reach the camera sensor and block out the nasty brown glow of a washed-out sky. The design of the filter includes layers that block specific bandpass lines of the visible spectrum.

cars passing by arc de triumph at Paris

Other considerations

The aperture value (Av) refers to the lens opening's size, which determines how much light makes it through the lens. Since aperture values (or f-stops) are represented as fractions, smaller values provide a larger lens opening – and a larger lens opening means more light will pass through the lens. To shoot the night sky and its surroundings, it is highly recommended to use a lens with a maximum aperture value of at least f/2.8 if possible.

Slower shutter speed allows more light to reach the image sensor (great for night photography), and when shooting nightscapes, it is recommended to use a very slow shutter duration of between 20 and 30 seconds. Of course, further adjustments should be made according to the current circumstances.

When shooting still frames for time-lapse, it is important that the camera doesn't change focus every time it takes another picture, so it is important to switch to manual focus mode when shooting time-lapses. When shooting at night, achieving proper focus can be a challenge. Therefore, use the Live View zoom and magnify feature to make your subject larger and lock your focus properly.

This type of photography can lead to impressive results with patience and practice. As an example, and if considering the exposition time mentioned above for taking pictures every 30 seconds, it means that the camera will be shooting two frames every minute. If 180 pictures are needed, then the camera should run for 90 minutes.

cars passing by a pink lighted building

Related Article: What is the Easiest Way to Make Good Timelapse Videos?

About The Author Manuel Delgado:

Manuel Delgado is an award-winning photographer with a specialization in travel and documentary photography. He writes for Contrastly and is a Mentor for NGO Photographers Alliance, having led workshops in Africa with a focus on ethical and humanitarian photography. His work has been exhibited in Europe and the Americas.

Driven by an innate curiosity for his surroundings, Manuel´s process is mainly focused on capturing people in their natural environment; translating through his lens the subtle threads of daily life that are shared across cultures, borders, and races. Depicting people from diverse backgrounds, his work is united by a shared aesthetic that serves to tell each individual’s story. Manuel is currently living in Düsseldorf, Germany. 

Manuel Delgado Instagram Profile

Star Trails Photography: Camera Equipment, Settings, and Exposure

Star Trails Photography: Camera Equipment, Settings, and Exposure

In definition, Star Trails Photography is a technique that lets your camera capture the slow but intricate dance of the stars across the night sky. Depending on the length of exposure and the amount of light present, the trails can be uniquely beautiful.