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How to Take Long Exposures for Night and Day

That is the moon, not the sun! Make: NIKON CORPORATION Model: NIKON D50 Shutter Speed: 300/10 second Aperture: F/3.5 Focal Length: 18 mm Date Taken: Sep 7, 2009, 12:32:58 AM

That is the moon, not the sun! Make: NIKON CORPORATION Model: NIKON D50 Shutter Speed: 300/10 second Aperture: F/3.5 Focal Length: 18 mm Date Taken: Sep 7, 2009, 12:32:58 AM

Taking Long Exposures At Night:

Taking photographs at night doesn't mean they have to look like they WERE taken at night. The moon is exactly like the sun in terms of lighting, only a lot dimmer. Which means you can take a picture at night when the moon is out, and if you use the right settings, the moon will look just like the sun. I had my camera over exposed 2 stops for this picture. The shadows (and their angles) seem to be more intense at night than day.

Why you would want to take a long exposure when using the moon:

  • To get lighting at a different angle than the sun regularly provides
  • The decrease your depth of field, so you can use smaller apertures, like f/1.4
  • to take longer exposures, so you can see cloud motion blur

If you want to take a long exposure at night time, have your ISO set to the lowest setting (like ISO 200), and then put your camera on Shutter Speed mode. On my camera, the camera can go up to a maximum of 30 seconds, so I used that. If you need even longer exposures, keep taking 30 second exposures one after the other, and then blend them together in photoshop using the Lighten blend mode. Or, if you wanted to go more extreme, put an ND filter on your lens, and take a 1 hour exposure 😉

If you simply want to take short exposures at night time, use a higher ISO, like 1600, and the time will be much shorter to take the picture. You will still need a tripod, and the exposure time will still be longer than if you were to take the picture during the day.

Taking Long Exposures During Day:

In order to take long exposures during the daytime, you need to have very dark filters for your lens. The two filters that I recommend using are the ND400 and the Hoya R72. The ND400 is a filter that basically blocks A LOT of light, enabling the photographer to take long exposures (30 seconds+) in daylight. The Hoya R72 is an infrared filter that also blocks a lot of light. The r72 will not give your picture original colors though, since it is in infrared. Here are some examples of what infrared pictures look like:

As you can see, they are quiet different than normal colored photographs. Not all cameras sensors are compatible with infrared filters though, so google your camera name and model along with the term "with IR" beside it. The older Nikon cameras, like D50 and D70 are compatible with the IR filters.

If you want to take regular SHORT exposures with infrared, you can get your camera modified by LifePixel. Your camera will permanently take infrared pictures at regular shutter speeds.


How To Photograph A Floating Person


Model: NIKON D50 Shutter Speed: 1/4 second F Number: F/3.5 Focal Length: 18 mm ISO Speed: 200 Date Picture Taken: Aug 23, 2009, 9:48:42 PM

How did I get this shot? Let me explain the physical setup first. It was at night time, obviously. I used a Sunpak auto 433 D Thyristor flash on a tripod that was directly to the right of my body. I used hotshoe slave trigger with the external flash that was on a tripod. This allowed me to flash my on-camera flash and have it sync up with the  external one so they both flash at the same time. My on camera flash was at 1/16th power, and the external one was probably at 1/2 power.

My Digital SLR was on a tripod, directly in the middle of the road. My tripod was on the lowest setting possible, and I would recommend doing the same with yours. I focused the lens on a stool that was also in the middle of the road, about 10 feet in front of the camera, then just turned off auto-focus. It is unnecessary to use it after you have the stool in focus. Then, I put the self-timer on 10 seconds, ran to the stool, sat on it, pulled up my shorts, put the pillowcase over them, got into a pose, and waited for the camera to take the picture.


Yep, that's me sitting on a stool in the middle of the road. That's a white pillow case by the way, I thought it looked more aesthetically pleasing and less contemporary than green shorts. I actually took about 20 different shots of myself in different poses, but this was my favorite.


Then, I simply took the stool out of the road and took another shot making sure the tripod+camera had not moved, and the flash was in the exact same place as it was before. And sense my auto-focus was turned off, I wouldn't have to worry about my camera screwing up the focus setting.

Now that we have the 2 essential shots we need, lets open them up into Photoshop.

Have the image with the stool on the top layer, and the image with no stool on the bottom. Now, erase the stool by using an eraser brush or a layer mask. Ta-da! The stool is gone, and it looks like you are floating. Then, after that, I went up to Image > Canvas Size and made the image square.

Then, I selected my body using the Rectangle Marquee Tool, right-clicked and selected Free Transform. I rotated my body so it was facing downward, and also moved it upward a little higher from the road. And that's it!

Here are some other floating levitating jumping zen pictures, click to enlarge them:


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