Photography Series: Long Exposure

This past month I’ve been working on different types of long exposure shots (essentially keeping the shutter open for longer to create a smoothing effect). I used a long exposure to capture: fireworks, traffic and waterfalls. Some tips I’ve picked up (or experienced) in this month:

  1. You’ll need a sturdy tripod and I also recommend a remote so you don’t jostle your camera when taking a picture. I’ve shown a few shots where I didn’t have a tripod and it doesn’t not turn out as well.
  2. It’s much harder to take these shots in daylight – you have a high chance of overexposure. Some tips are to turn away from the sun or go at dusk/night with low light.
  3. Play around with the shutter speed – you’ll get varying effects with a wide range of shutter speeds!


I went to check out the Sound of Lights in Ottawa this month to try taking pictures of fireworks for the first time. I have to say – I was pretty impressed with my first attempt! By using a longer exposure (slower shutter speed) you can see the light streaks to make the picture impressive. I saw some beautiful shots from the show so I’m hoping to check out a few new locations next year.

The first time I went I didn’t go early enough to scout out a good spot. The Sound of Light show has both high fireworks as well as lower fireworks as a compliment. As you can see, there are people in front of me and I didn’t get the lower fireworks but I loved the colours of this picture. (I took about 50 pictures and liked one).


My second time I met up with a friend at Nepean Point. I’ve been thinking about investing in a wide angle lens for a while and this is definitely where it would have come in handy. We were so close to the fireworks I couldn’t get a lot of them in a shot, let alone any of the background. China put on a wonderful performance!



The first time I tried to do this was in London, England last March. I didn’t have a tripod or remote so while the tail lights look cool the rest of the shot is blurry.

I took my tripod out in Ottawa this past weekend to test out some other traffic shots. I stopped along the bridges crossing the Rideau Canal and got a few shots I liked. I wish there had been a little more traffic to emphasize


I wish I’d known about long exposure before I went to Iceland: we saw multiple waterfalls a day! I tried it out in Ireland, but again did not have a tripod or remote so it wasn’t a great shot. The sky is way too bright and the trees are blurry. (This is one problem with the long exposure is it’s easy for your picture to become overexposed if it’s too bright out).


So, I went to Hog’s Back Falls to try out some new waterfall shots. I’d love to go back to Iceland and I think I’ll head to Ithaca in the spring/summer (there’s a ton of waterfalls to see there!) I also have yet to check out Princess Louise falls in Ottawa so I think that’ll be my next stop.

Do you have any tips for taking long exposure shots?

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