Long Exposures

There are few things more exciting to me than the click of my camera’s shutter after a long exposure. Sometimes it’s only two minutes, sometimes ten. Sometimes the image is great, and sometimes it isn’t. The magic of long exposures comes, in part, from the fact that you never know entirely what you’re going to get out of it. You can guess, but life and nature are unpredictable. If there is some higher power, you’re handing your photography over to it when you press that shutter button.

Millennium Bridge, 01 (Flickr).jpg
Millennium Bridge, #01

The seven-minute exposure of this shot has completely blurred the River Ouse lapping at the towpath in the foreground. Subtle streaks of cloud add interest to the glowing sunset sky. The vague form of the bridge is reflected in the mirror-like water.

Long exposure times get you to think before you commit. No longer can you take twenty images and pick the best when you get home. It makes your photography so much more contemplative. During those minutes in which the shutter is open, you have a chance to stand and look around you.

Try it. Use a long exposure at night to capture a dark and moody street devoid of life, or use an ND filter to catch the movement of the clouds during a sunrise over the moors. Take inspiration from someone like Alexey Titarenko and use it to turn people into abstract, ghostly forms. Whatever you do, realise that you’re not just capturing a moment in time. You’re capturing the passage of time itself. Force yourself to stop and think about what it is you’re shooting and why, because once you press that shutter button, you’ve given up all your power to the world around you.

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