How to Take Long Exposure Photos at Night With a DSLR Camera for Begginers.




This is a quick and easy guide on how to take long exposure photos for beginners with a DSLR camera. I'm by no means a professional photographer but I can share some tips that will help you take long exposure photos at night. By now you should be familiar enough with camera and have a basic understanding on how to change settings on your DSLR camera. Lets start with the definition of a long exposure. Long exposure photos are a long-duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the moving elements. Depending on your situation, the settings will change. But I will be giving you the basic settings that should work for all exposures at night.

There are few things you will need to take a long exposure photos and they are:

  • DSLR camera
  • Basic tripod.

Step 1: Your Settings

Settings are key when taking long exposures. Ive found that these are the best for long light leeks.

  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter Speed: 20 Seconds
  • F-Stop (Shutter Size): 8.0

Now you're probably wondering, "What is ISO and F-Stop anyway?" well for starters the ISO is basically how the digital sensor accepts light. The lower your ISO is the higher the quality the photo. Its said that to get the best quality you always want to shoot your photos in between 200-300 ISO. Now F-Stop is easier to understand its basically how wide your lens is open so, the higher the number on the F-Stop the less the shutter is open which brings in less light.

Each setting in which you use long exposure whether it is taking light trails of cars, or glow sticks etc. The settings will need to be changed but these should work for all of them as I have found.

Step 2: Stabalizing Your Camera

Hooking in your camera to a tripod and making sure your tripod is stable is most important.

Find a flat surface to put your tripod. Keep your camera flat and level, most tripods have a "level" where you mount it and make sure the bubble is in the middle.

If you don't hook it into a tripod you will find very quickly that your photos will come out blurry and unfocused and look like crap. This is because while the shutter is open it takes in all light and your light trails wont be clear and focused.

If you don't have a tripod you can find them on amazon for as low as 30-40 dollars.

Step 3: Examples

When you complete your long exposure your photos should look something like this. As you can see to the right of the photo, you will see long light trails on the highways.

You can do long exposures with many different things. I find a city landscapes at night turn out to cool photos like the one above. You may also notice that in my photo its crooked, while taking my photo I didn't have my camera level. Make sure to keep all shots square and level for best results.

Stuck? Here is some ideas for long exposures: Glow sticks, Sparklers, Stars, Lighters, Ferris wheels, Fireworks.

Good luck and I hope this helps!



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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    and if you need a longer exposure, just get one of those remote controls for $1-10 and hold the button as long as you need it:)

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, and I do believe when you're in bulb setting, you can have and exposure for as long as you wish.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    A remote is good anyway to avoid pressing the shutter button itself, which can cause a bit of shake even using a tripod. Cameras used to have a squeeze bulb to achieve this purpose and many still have a "B" setting.