Long exposure photography is a fun and diverse genre. You can use long exposure photography techniques almost anywhere. The most important thing to pay attention to is movement. The more movements there are, the more creative and unusual your final results will look.
Here are a few stunning examples of long exposure photography ideas to get you started.
Our Top Examples of Long Exposure Photography Ideas
The best way to get some long exposure ideas is to see the technique in action. That’s why we’ve included 35 amazing examples to get your creativity going.
35. Feature a Dancer
34. Light Trails on Busy Roads
Long exposure photography is a good excuse to photograph light trails. Light trails look like very long streaks of colorful light. They’re usually created by moving vehicles.
Find a busy road where you can focus on these light trails. Use a very slow shutter speed. Make sure you take photos when it’s dark so that the light trails stand out as much as possible.
33. Stunning Movements of Star Trails
You can take stunning long exposure photos using astrophotography techniques. You can use a very slow shutter speed to take one photo.
Alternatively, you can take several photos and merge them in an editing program later on. This is called stacking.
32. Eerie Photos of Double Faces
If used correctly, long exposures can look very similar to double exposure photography. Double exposures are made up of two (or more) photos.
You can create a similar look by taking photos of faces. Your model has to look at the camera for a few seconds. Then they have to turn their face away from the camera.
All of this has to happen as your camera is taking the picture. Experiment with different shutter speeds to find your favorite one.
31. Soft and Silky Water
Water is constantly moving. This makes it the perfect subject for long exposure in photography. If you use a slow shutter speed, you’ll be able to make the water look soft and silky.
You can experiment with different bodies of water at different times of the day. Take photos during the blue hour to enhance the colors in the water. Take photos at sunset to give the water a dreamy glow.
30. Busy Crowds at Famous Locations
Don’t avoid famous locations just because they’ve been photographed a million times. You can make them look unique by using long exposures.
These locations are usually very busy. You can capture their fast pace by taking photos from a high angle. This allows you to take ghostly photos of silhouettes and light trails.
29. Long Exposures at Ground Level
Another way to elevate your long exposures is to shoot from a different point of view. This is a great way to improve your photography in general. The more you experiment with unusual angles, the more eye-catching your images will look.
Take photos of a busy location at ground level. You can use a small tripod to keep your camera in one place.
28. A City’s Smooth Reflections at Night
Cities provide stunning views for long exposure photographers. You can use their bright colors to take magical nighttime photos.
First, find a location where you can see a large part of the city. You can use a wide-angle lens to give your photos a cinematic feel. Try to find a body of water to include in the composition. This will reflect the colorful nighttime lights and make everything look smooth.
27. Windy Landscape Photos
Wind can be a nuisance in long exposures. If it’s too windy, your camera will shake and take blurred photos. Your goal is to take photos when there’s a slight breeze.
26. Contrast Using Stillness and Movement
You can use long exposures to point out similarities and differences between two things. This is an easy way to draw attention to an image.
For example, you can photograph a person as they’re waiting for their train to stop. If the person stands still, they’ll look sharp in the photo. The train will look blurred because of its speed.
You can use this technique with almost any moving vehicle. Make sure you shoot from a distance so that you and your equipment remain safe.
25. Dreamy Photos Using Mist or Fog
Mist and fog can add a touch of dreaminess to your landscape images.
You can include them in long exposures of water. The softness of the mist combined with the softness of the water will help you take unique images.
24. Long Exposure Fireworks
Fireworks tend to be extravagant and colorful. They’re the perfect subjects for long exposures.
Since you’ll be shooting in the dark, make sure you use a high ISO and a tripod. Use a slow shutter speed to capture the movement of the fireworks as they explode and fade away.
23. Majestic Waterfalls
Some of the most well-known long exposure photos have waterfalls in them. The reason is that waterfalls are powerful and fast, making them perfect subjects for eye-catching photos.
You can approach waterfall photography the same way you approach water photography. The longer your shutter speed, the smoother the water will look.
22. Smooth Light Paintings with the Aurora Lights
The aurora lights are impressive and photogenic. You can use their movements to create colorful skies in your landscape images.
You can also use this as an opportunity to create long exposure time-lapses.
21. Cinematic Effects With Easy Long Exposure Tricks
You don’t always need to travel far to find gorgeous subjects for long exposures. Sometimes, all you need to do is go to your local mall or supermarket. (Make sure you’re allowed to take photos there first!)
You can use an escalator to create epic long exposure photos. Hold your camera as steadily as possible. Use a very slow shutter speed to make the escalator’s movements look obvious.
20. Creative Lightography
Use a slow shutter speed to photograph someone writing a word in the air. You’ll need to do this in the dark for the words to stand out. You can also draw circles, hearts, or anything else you feel like!
19. Beautiful Patterns in an Amusement Park
At night, amusement parks are a long exposure photographer’s dream. You can use carousels, Ferris wheels, and other attractions to take vibrant photos.
You can also include other people in your shots to make your photos look even more eye-catching.
18. Strangers in Busy Crowds
If you like street photography, include some long exposure shots in your work. You can do this by photographing your subject as other people walk between your subject and your camera.
Make sure the person is standing still so that everything around them looks blurred. This might take a few attempts, but you’re likely to get some really cool shots if you keep trying.
17. Long Exposure Pictures Through a Fence
Foregrounds are a great way to add depth to your work. You can use fences, branches, hands, etc., to make your long exposure compositions look more interesting.
Put your camera on a tripod, use a large aperture, and focus on your landscape. This will blur the fence and create a nice frame.
16. Moody Long Exposure Photos Before Sunrise or After Sunset
Right before sunset, the light tends to be very warm. After sunset, it takes on a deep blue color that’s perfect for moody shots.
15. Random Camera Movement
Long exposure photography usually requires the use of a tripod. But this isn’t always necessary. If you want to take abstract photos, you can shoot handheld.
Randomly move your camera as you press the shutter. This will give you very unusual and eye-catching results, especially if you’re working with lots of colors.
14. Panorama Techniques
Panoramic photos tend to look more cinematic than photos in a normal format. You can achieve this look by cropping your long exposure pictures. You can also use a wide-angle lens.
Alternatively, you can try the panorama technique. All you have to do is take vertical pictures of your landscape and stitch them in an editing program.
13. One Still Object in the Sea
Some beaches have wooden pilings in them. These are perfect for peaceful long exposure photos.
You can create a minimalistic effect by taking pictures when the weather is gloomy. This will make the water and the sky look similar in color. It will also make your subject stand out more.
12. Boats Moving in Water
Another great subject for water-related photos is a boat. It will move with the water and create a painterly effect.
11. The Movements of Sand
Whether you’re in a desert or on the beach, you can take fantastic long exposure photos of sand.
The key to taking great long exposure sand photos is taking your time. If you throw sand in the air, it will look weird in your final results. Keep the speed consistent and slow so that the sand resembles water.
10. Movements in a Soft Winter Landscape
If you live in a place where winters are snowy, you can take beautiful long exposure pictures outside. Winter colors are very simple and gloomy, which can make your long exposure pictures look minimalistic and peaceful.
9. Chimney Smoke at Night
Chimney smoke isn’t the most popular long exposure subject out there. You can use this to your advantage and take photos that are truly unique.
The best time to photograph smoke is at night in a well-lit area. Make sure you shoot from a low angle so that the smoke contrasts with the dark sky.
8. Conceptual Art Using a Person
If you like conceptual photography, you can use long exposures to create mysterious pictures.
In the example below, the model’s face is hidden. They’re standing next to the sea, which looks soft thanks to the long exposure effect. Their cloak is blurred because it’s blowing in the wind. All of these details contribute to a mysterious atmosphere.
7. Epic Long Exposure Photos with the Panning Technique
Find a subject with predictable movements. Like a car, for example. As you’re taking a picture, move your camera in the same direction the car is going. This will make everything but the car look blurred.
6. Black and White Moving Clouds
Long exposure photography often features clouds in motion. To make your clouds stand out, you can convert your pictures to black and white. This will get rid of distracting colors and enhance the dramatic effect of the clouds.
You can also increase the clarity of your picture to make your final results look more striking.
5. Unique Long Exposure Photos From a Boat
Some of the most impressive long exposure photos feature unusual places taken from equally unusual angles.
If you have the chance, take long exposure photos from a boat. This will give you a unique perspective and allow you to get creative with your techniques.
4. Mesmerising Movements of a Campfire
Looking at a campfire is very calming. Try to capture this feeling by using a very slow shutter speed. The sparks from the fire might create very interesting patterns in your images.
3. Meteor Showers
Meteor showers are more common than you might think, especially in the summer. This is the perfect opportunity to go out and improve your long-exposure astrophotography.
2. Abstract Macro Photos
Usually, too much wind isn’t a good idea in long exposure photography. The reason is that it results in too much camera shake. But in this case, it can be a great tool that can help you take abstract photos.
Take macro photos of flowers, insects, or anything that catches your interest. You can shoot handheld. With the right amount of wind, you’ll be able to take dreamy macro pictures.
1. Several Elements Combined in One Picture
Now that you’re familiar with over 30 different ideas, you can combine them to create spectacular photos.
For example, you can take long exposure photos of the sea, an amusement park, and people all at once. It’s all about perspective, so don’t be afraid to get creative and break the rules.
Common Long Exposure Photography Questions
Now that you’ve seen how amazing long exposure shots can be, it’s time to learn a bit about the technique.
How Do You Do Long Exposure Photography?
Use a slow shutter speed. If it’s bright outside, make sure you use an ND filter to avoid overexposure. Put your camera on a tripod to keep your pictures sharp.
How Do You Make a Long Exposure Effect in Photoshop?
You can create fake long exposures by using the radial blur in Photoshop. Select the area you want to blur. Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur. Make sure you pick a small number so that the effect doesn’t look unnatural.
How Do You Do Long Exposures on iPhone?
There’s a lot you can do with long exposure photography. You can take it to the next level by using different subjects and perspectives. The more you experiment, the more creative and eye-catching your long exposure photos will look.