Long Exposure Photography




This instructable is about long exposure photography, or "bulb" photography, on a 35mm film camera. I will be using a canon t70 with 200mm lens. Long exposure photography is an artistic form of photography in which the lens is left open for longer than necessary, with the camera being secure on a tripod. This creates an artistic blurring of motion. This technique also creates lines where lights have passed in front of the camera.

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Step 1: The Camera

In order to shoot long exposure on film, your camera must either have a "bulb" setting, or a way to manually open the shutter. On the t70, "bulb" mode enables the user to keep the lens open as long as the shutter button is depressed. Also, you will need either a tripod or some other way to get your camera steady. I would definitely recommend a tripod, to get the best results.

Step 2:

Procedure: This is pretty basic, but yields fantastic images if done correctly. Step one: set camera to "bulb" or long exposure mode. Some older analog cameras will be different from mine, but on a canon t70, it is an ae preset mode. step 2: Locate your tripod with a clear view of wherever you want to shoot. Step 3: when you feel that your camera is in a good position, press the shutter button. (while the shutter is open, it is VERY important not to move the camera or tripod, as this will result in blurring.) The amount of time to leave the shutter open really depends on what you are shooting. 30 seconds is a good starting point. 

Step 3:

Note on aperture: When shooting bulb photography, the use of aperture is a little different than in normal photography. On a really dark night, if i am shooting the lights of cars on a highway, I set my camera to f-8 or even f-11. The reason for this is that, because you are leaving the shutter open longer in bulb photography, more light is exposing the film. So, just remember, the longer you leave the shutter open, the more light enters, so adjust aperture accordingly.

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    5 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I do this all the time I have a Canon Rebel T3 and use the 18-55mm lens it came with. When taking the shot my settings are ISO 100 and the f stop of 20 or more with the shutter open around a minute or more. I have alot of great pics on my facebook page at michael riffe's art & photos.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    My inexpensive Nikon digital camera (no manual control) has a "mode" setting for taking pics of fireworks. It seems to keep the shutter open for just a few seconds and I have used it to record moving headlights as well with nice results. My Canon SX150 allows some manual control but I don't think it will allow 30 seconds for shutter speed. In any case the Canon menu is such a kludge for tracking down those manual settings! When I bought those two cameras I wasn't looking for manual control capability. Definitely will be considering such features for my next camera though. Also, I previously used a shutter release cable on 35mm film cameras to avoid camera shake. Haven't been able to duplicate that with the cheap cameras. The time-delay function is 9 seconds - useful if I want to be in the pic but usually results in missed shots the rest of the time. Thanks for the instructable!

    Phil B

    7 years ago on Introduction

    It has been a while since I have used photographic film. I remember using data sheets packed with films like Kodak Tri-X for calculating low light exposures, sometimes using Bulb and the camera on a tripod. Even if I was using a much slower film, like Kodachrome 64, I could still factor the Tri-X data sheet for the slower film speed. The Bulb setting is especially useful for shooting fireworks displays. I also used it in an Instructable on painting building interiors with light. I just wish my Kodak z710 digital camera had a real Bulb setting in its array of Manual settings.

    1 reply
    mtestaPhil B

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, i have never had any real education in photography and as such i usually don't know the right way to do things, so most often, (like with bulb photography) i just do a best guess. It's nice to know that there's somebody out there who knows these things and is willing to share them.