#Photo3 – Long Exposure Subjects

A weekly trio of top photo tips

If you’re yearning to make your images more creative, then an easy way to achieve this is by extending your exposure times. Of course, simply putting your camera in its Bulb mode and leaving the shutter open for a couple of minutes is just going to lead to very over-exposed images! However, place an extreme ND filter, such as a Big Stopper over the lens at the same time and BINGO! Beautiful, evocative images, full of creativity and movement. But what subjects and locations work the best for these type of images? Well, seeing as you ask…


To use the full potential of a long exposure, you need lots of movement in your images and at the coast, you have that aplenty. Not only can you capture movement in the clouds in the sky, but with an abundance of water at your disposal, you have a second element to blur with a 6, 10 or even 15 stop ND filter. The results work best if you can also place a static subject in the frame for the other elements to move around. Luckily, at the coast you have these too. Piers, groynes, rocks, harbour walls and marker posts all make suitable subjects, making the coast a great place to shoot long exposures.

Whitby, North Yorkshire

The City

The urban environment provides a rich playground for creative images, but at first glance, may not be the obvious choice for long exposures. Most things that move within the city, will actually disappear in your image with a long exposure, at least ones over a minute. The key to success in the city is to combine all the static subjects, i.e. the buildings, with dramatic cloud movement and this is a great way to get creative images of architecture. And of course, many towns and cities have rivers running through them, so there’s also the opportunity to include water as a moving element too.

Thames Barrier, London

Thames Barrier, London

Power Stations

So, you’ve done the coast and spent some time in the city too, so where next? Well, now you can start thinking about specific subjects and a great one is power stations. Now I’m talking about the ones with the massive cooling towers outside and again, at first these may not seem obviously photogenic, however, you only have to stand outside one for long enough to see the potential. Unlike other subjects, you really need a clear sunny day (i.e. no cloud), as the movement is coming from elsewhere. Once the steam starts pumping out the top of these huge chimneys, you have your movement and on a cold, crisp day, with a light wind, boy does it make a great subject!

Drax Power Station, East Yorkshire

You can read more about shooting long exposures in my eGuides. These are available as part of an e6 subscription or to purchase separately. www.e6subscription.co.uk

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