Larry  Grayam

Larry Grayam

Vero Beach, Florida, United States

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“Time Exposures”

A time exposure refers to a photograph made using long exposure times, typically beyond what could be hand held. Time exposures might be used to capture a dimly lit scene or used to show the trails of action occurring in the photo. Most often the camera will be tripod mounted and the photographer will use a remote shutter release or the cameras built in self timer to open the shutter. Vibration can easily ruin a time exposure. Exposure compensation may also be required as films sensitivity diminishes with long exposure. Some time exposure longer then several minutes may also introduce reciprocity error, this results in a shift of the recorded colors. When exposing the photo remember to darken the eyepiece window so extraneous light does not enter and affect your exposure. If your camera will not expose automatically for longer periods you may need to use the "Bulb setting which holds the shutter open as long as you have the remote trigger pressed.*

Lifeguards stand at night with a lightning storm at sea as a background. With the camera mounted on a tripod and the shutter open for 30 seconds, many flashes of lightning were captured. In this photo a distant sodium vapor street light provided enough light to illuminate the foreground and nearby cloud cover.
This scene was so dark a flashlight was used to visualize and focus on the lifeguards stand. When shooting at night never forget you hand held light.
Nikon D2H w/eyepiece shutter closed.14mm lens EI200 30sec f4.0 EI200
With remote shutter release cable used.
Another great use for time exposure is to capture motion. Here
John Vandeven used a tripod mounted camera to blur the motion of water flowing over rocks in an Australian landmark. A time exposure makes flowing water come alive. Canon 10sec F22, ND8 filter
click to visit Johns Profile
! ! While stopped at a railroad crossing the camera was placed on the cars dashboard for a quick grab shot of this train crossing at night. A Florida East Coast freight train speeds thru a protected roadway crossing at night, in Vero Beach Florida USA. The speeding train is but a blur allowing images from beyond the train to be superimposed onto the rail cars image.
Nikon D2H 14mm lens EI400 15sec f5.6

Time exposures may require extensive testing and practice, before you gain confidence that you can produce the photograph. Keeping in mind that camera stability is paramount you will also need to accommodate the peculiarities of long exposure times.

So you might try non moving objects at first and work your way up to more complex attempts.
So get out and shot, shoot, shoot, have fun-Larry Grayam


  • Kim McClain Gregal
    Kim McClain Gr...almost 5 years ago

    Nice examples and wonderful piece Larry! : )

  • Thanks Kim

    – Larry Grayam

  • Ann Warrenton
    Ann Warrentonalmost 5 years ago

    Thanks this is great to know.

  • Thanks Ann

    – Larry Grayam

  • kalaryder
    kalaryderalmost 5 years ago

    Thank you for that information

  • I;m glad you like it kalaryder

    – Larry Grayam

  • Andrea Searle
    Andrea Searlealmost 5 years ago

    Thanks for that Larry, what exactly is the eyepiece that you referred to in the first picture?

  • Andrea my Nikons all have a small shutter that blocks light from entering the viewfinder during time exposures. this extra light could alter the meter reading and exposure. It is a manual lever located next to the eyepiece

    – Larry Grayam