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How to Take a Long Exposure Photo

How to Take a Long Exposure Photo

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This photo of tied up paddle boats was taken on Ramsgate Lagoon, South Africa. I woke up 4 o’clock in the morning to take this picture. Early morning photos are always worth it. I set my tripod low to get a better angle. I used a small aperture to get most of the photo in focus but because it was dark and I did not want to add noise in the photo I could only go to f/9.0 due to the minimum shutter speed of 30 seconds. 

Having no remote with me meant I couldn’t use the BULB mode and had to use the two second timer to take a photo to reduce camera shake. I again used mirror lock up to further sharpen the photo. One thing to remember when taking photos on a tripod with a lens that has image stabilization is to switch off the image stabilization. 

Image stabilization, vibration reduction, O.I.S., Optical SteadyShot, SR, VR, VC, MEGA O.I.S., and all similar lingo camera and lens manufacturers use helps to steady the camera when taking handheld photos. This is extremely useful in low light scenarios when you are unable to use a tripod or flash. Image stabilisation allows you to capture sharp photos at lower shutter speeds than previously possible. Some lenses allow you to capture sharp images at shutter speeds up to five stops slower than previously possible.

Without any stabilization the rule of thumb to take sharp photos is to have a shutter speed of at least one over your focal length. For example at 250mm your shutter speed should be at least 1/250 second. With image stabilization you will be able to take a sharp photo with the same focal length at shutter speeds down to ⅛ second. That can be very useful in certain situations. 

Now when using image stabilization on a tripod it can cause motion inside the lens. When your camera is on a sturdy tripod the image stabilization still tries to detect motion and in doing so causes slight vibration inside the lens than can cause motion blur. It is usually very subtle and is usually only visible at 100% crop. Image stabilization uses up your battery. So, switching it off when not needed will let you be able to take more photos on one charge.

This photo was taken in January 2014 with a Canon 5D MkIII and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

Camera Settings: f/9.0, 30 seconds and ISO 200

 

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