How to Make Your Nikon Take Longer Exposures

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If you've ever wondered how photographers achieve a soft, misty effect in photos of waterfalls, or how a photograph of the freeway at night shows streaks of white and red instead of individual headlights, the answer isn't Photoshop. It's long-exposure photography. When you open the aperture of your camera with a remote trigger release cable, the camera imprints the image for as many seconds as you want. The effect is a blur of motion. Splashing water looks misty and moving light forms trails. If your Nikon has manual aperture settings you can take long-exposure shots.

Things You'll Need

  • Tripod
  • Remote trigger release cable
  • Neutral Density (ND) filter (optional)
  • Attach the Nikon to a tripod and frame your photograph. You'll have to keep the camera perfectly still while the aperture is open or you'll end up with a very blurry image.

  • Place a remote trigger release cable on the shutter release button. The cable has a button on the end so you can hold down the button without creating any camera shake.

  • Put an ND filter on your lens if you're shooting in daylight to prevent too much sunlight from damaging your image sensor. This filter also prevents your image from being overexposed from the light. If you're shooting at dusk, night or dawn this is optional.

  • Put the camera in A mode for Aperture Priority Automatic. Then choose the lowest ISO setting your camera offers. ISO 200 is low enough for long-exposure photos, but you can experiment. If you have a Matrix Metering setting turn that on as well.

  • Using the menu in your viewfinder, set the aperture to f/22 or f/16. The Nikon will calculate the shutter speed automatically.

  • Press the remote trigger cable button to take the picture. You can keep the button depressed to lock the shutter open for even longer exposures. There's no limit to how long you can hold the shutter open, but start with 10 or 15 seconds and increase the time until you get the effect you're looking for. If you plan to open the shutter for more than 30 seconds use the built-in viewfinder cover to keep any light from coming in through the back of the camera.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't disturb the camera until you see on the viewfinder that the image is written to your disk. Long-exposure photos take longer to process and save than regular snapshots and you don't want to run the risk of blurring the image or corrupting the file before it's completely saved.

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References

  • Photo Credit David Becker/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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