How do you take a long exposure night shot?

Have you ever noticed how all professional photographers click smooth photography? Usually, you would think that these photos are edited in professional apps, but that isn’t the case. Instead, all the magic is done on the camera itself with shutter speed.

Photographers capture photos with long exposure, which is an excellent technique for superb images. However, you must plan things ahead to make the most of the exposure technique. Don’t worry! I’ll let you in this secret world. Let’s go!

What is long exposure photography?

Long Exposure photography is nothing but a technique that all photographers use to click soft and smooth images by lowering the shutter speed and clicking the picture.

This technique has been an age-old secret among the professionals while clicking landscapes, architectural buildings, portraits etc. This method creates a very creamy-textured picture with just the right amount of blur to make the photo look worth millions.

Basically, the slow shutter speed captures moving elements in a blurred form, thus creating a soft texture. Of course, it also depends a lot on the focal length and the camera you are using.

Why is shutter speed important for long exposure photos?

Shutter speed is the number of times the shutter opens, and the light enters inside. Therefore a slow shutter speed will allow maximum light entry and better illumination. Thus, when you use a long exposure, a slow shutter speed will capture whole light and blur the moving objects in the photo creating a dense effect.

Shutter speed can be controlled in professional cameras such as DSLRs, but for androids or smartphones, you have to have some external apps on your phone that let you adjust the shutter speed.

Long exposure night photography settings

Taking photos in long exposure can be tricky, but appropriate camera settings can help you achieve better-looking photos:

  • Use the camera in Manual mode. When using manual mode, you can set everything according to your need and demand.
  • Set the shutter speed between 30 to 60 seconds to allow enough light to enter the frame. However, take a trial of the setting to see if the lighting is enough.
  • The aperture should be f8, f11, f16 as it gives depth to the photo and allows a sharp image up and down. Increase the aperture if there is too much light and lower it for darker prints.
  • ISO should stay at 100 to 200 since it will reduce the colour noise. Noise is basically a disoriented picture with dull colours. 
  • Keep the white balance on automatic to get all the natural lights that are present in the background while maintaining the perfect balance throughout the photoshoot.
  • Manual focus is better when you’re trying to focus on an object at night. Therefore focus on the light first and then shift the focus to manual to confirm it.
  • Click RAW pictures since you get so much freedom of editing the photos in the best possible manner. Also, raw images let you make the best of the photograph without too much effort because imagine standing for an hour trying to click the most fantastic picture. Therefore efficiency could be increased by clicking RAW images.

The long exposure night sky

  • Set the focus on Manual to Infinity. Infinity in the manual setting is denoted by a horizontal 8 sign.

When the focus is Automatic, it will only focus on one subject, either the background or the sky. However, if you need to focus on the whole picture, then put the focus on Manual and set it on infinity so that everything is focused.

  • Use low f-stop and a wide-angle lens since you will be able to click focused pictures in low-light situations with a low f-stop, and a wide-angle lens will shoot some of the most majestic shots.
  • Invest in a stable tripod that will hold your camera in place. Tripods are an essential component to a great photoshoot, and therefore, you should buy a sturdy and extendable tripod stand that you can adjust of your will.
  • If you’re going to try long exposure photography, then plan beforehand. Check all the settings carefully, set the shutter speed at low speed and be ready to capture the best shot ever.
  • Bring enough light to get an ambient enough shot. You can even bring extra lights of different colours to give a beautiful theme to the photo.

How to take long exposure shots on iPhone

Long exposure photography is a lesser-known term; however, we have seen so many photos clicked through this technique. Some people have come to use their smartphones when clicking long exposure photos. Let us see how we can imitate that – 

            Long exposure night photography iPhone

While we cannot set the phone’s camera in a way that can click long exposure photos, we can find an alternative for that:

  • Set the live photos option timer to 3-10 seconds and click a picture with prolonged exposure. The timer acts as the shutter speed, and short-timers create just enough time for the light to enter the frame, much like the shutter speed’s mechanism.
  • Place the iPhone on a tripod and then click images for a stable shot. Set the tripod on good ground so that no external force can move it without your will.
  • Download an app that can click long exposure photos for all models above iPhone 6. Some apps that you can download on your iPhone are Slow shutter cam, ProCam 6, Camera+ etc.

How to take long exposure shots on android

Clicking a night shot by using the long exposure technique is tricky, but using a smartphone might be more problematic. To click photos with your android phones, follow the following steps:

  • Buy a tripod stand on which you will place the camera and click the photograph. It is also crucial because our hands are not the most sturdy, and the camera would pick up the vibrations from our hands.
  • Buy remote camera shutters to click long exposure photos. Again, a stable camera is necessary for connecting pictures with the long exposure techniques.
  • Select the right lenses or Smartphone lens filter for your android phones that come as an external attachment.
  • Use the camera on manual mode, panorama mode, portrait mode etc., and plan beforehand.
  • Download an app for long exposure since they provide options such as shutter speed adjustment, ISO adjusting etc.


Capturing beautiful night shots with a long exposure technique could be challenging but not impossible. However, if you know how to take such photos, then you can easily apply this technique to get smooth images of the beautiful sky, running water etc.

But before you do anything, study the camera you are going to use, such as a DSLR or smartphone camera etc. Understanding its settings will become easier when you know what device you will use.

Long exposure photography has been a professional’s secret for a long time now. It is time that novices like you and I are let into this world to click amazing pictures of the sky looking soft and the river running smoothly.