Long exposure photography is a popular technique whereby the camera's shutter is left open to expose an image over a period of time. Whether it be 2 seconds or 2 hours, the result is the capture of both stationary and moving objects, the latter appearing blurred or smudged and paths of light become clearly visible. So if you're a keen photographer looking for new tricks or simply enjoy beautiful imagery, check out these amazing examples of long exposure photography to inspire you...
This atmospheric shot is a perfect example of how capturing movement in long exposure photography can create amazing effects. Taken by photographer Mary Kay, the capture of the water over a period of time makes it look almost like fog and as if this abandoned ship is merely floating, creating a brilliant ghostly appearance and feel.
02. Super S
Photographer Matthew Fang is the man behind this striking scene, taken on the way to gold town Jiufen in Taiwan. Using his Nikon D50, Fang left the shutter open for 117.4 secs in order to capture the paths of light created by cars travelling to and from the town.
He comments, "Jiu-Fen is a hot spot for people to go at the weekend and have a good time. Most photographers take pictures in this spot between 4-7pm when this road is very busy as it creates a light snake all the way to the seaside."
03. Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Once a year, Pigeon Point lighthouse in California has its aerobeacon light replaced with a one kilowatt lamp, restoring its appearance to what it was 135 years ago. Quite a spectacle, many people gather to witness the event, and in 2007 photographer Tyler Westcott was one of them. Leaving his camera shutter open for roughly 120 seconds, Wescott captured this beautiful star of light created by the new lamp.
04. Last train
You can almost feel the rush of wind as the train passes in this cool shot by Russian physicist and photographer Lev Tsimring. The point of view manages to capture the train's motion beautifully. Tsimring comments online, "Catching a good street photo requires technical skills, good eye, fast reaction, a bit of chutzpa, and luck."
05. Realistically surreal
Photographer Brian Eliel is the artist responsible for this atmospheric shot. The scene was captured during the highest full moon of the year, Eliel comments online, "I wanted to created a surrealistic image from natural light. The deep blue was created in camera settings with the long exposure. It was necessary to extend the exposure time to 360 seconds to get this kind of colour."
06. Abduction in Altadena
On a foggy night back in 2010, photographer Lucas Janin took a drive up a the top of Lake Avenue in Altadena in the hope of capturing the atmosphere. During his travels, he came across this scene at the exit of a park as people were leaving, and set up his equipment quickly to catch the light path of car headlights on its way out.
07. Ballet dance
Photographer Sugianto from Jakarta only has one picture in his online portfolio, but what a shot it is. This long exposure photograph of a ballet dancer mid-routine captures the delicateness of her extensions beautifully, leaving a gorgeous trail of colour and light.
08. Bixby Bridge
This gorgeous shot of the famous bridge of California's Big Sur was not easy to come by for photographer Matt Granz. With the moon his only source of light, Granz had to wait for a long time through the night for this car to drive across the bridge and add the red path of light all the way through the image. But an exposure of 96 seconds captured it beautifully.
09. Illuminations - reflections of Earth
Long exposure photography is the perfect way to capture fireworks in all their glory, as this beautiful image by Joe Penniston proves. A lover of all things Disney, Penniston photographed this colourful scene during the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The camera shutter open for 10.9 seconds captured the epic show beautifully.
10. Houses of Parliament, London
This beautiful shot was taken in Central London by self-taught hobbyist photographer David Mar Quinto. With the Houses of Parliament in the background, Quinto left his camera shutter open long enough to capture a double decker bus as it passes, creating a beautiful path of colour and light infront of the iconic building.
11. Into the mystic
Located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, amateur photgrapher Kristina Wilson was able to capture his tranquil scene last year. Leaving her camera shutter open for 15 seconds recorded the movement of the waterfall, giving it a gorgeous silky, smooth appearance.
12. Golden hour
For those of you who don't like getting up in the morning, take a look at the kind of spectacle you could be missing. This beautiful sunrise was shot by photographer Noval Nugraha. Originally from Indonesia, Nugraha has lived in Sydney for 15 years and has built up an impressive portfolio of images in that time. By leaving his camera shutter open as the sun came up, Nugraha captures all of the early morning sky's beautiful colours.
13. A henge beneath
Murphy's Haystacks are granite inselberg rock formations in Streaky Bay, South Australia. On a cloudless night last year, photographers and couple Dylan Toh and Marianne Lim had an hour between sunset and moonrise to capture the milky way overhead. They comment online, "We try our best to venture near and far to witness the best show on earth : light!"
Taken by amateur photographer Scott Howse, this dream-like photograph features Clevedon pier in Somerset, UK. Howse used long exposure photography to to capture this beautiful scene, leaving the shutter open for approximately 70 seconds for this particular image.
15. Blue morning
Bronte Beach is a small recreational beach in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. After taking a trip to the area, photographer Yury Prokopenko set up his camera equipment and, keeping the shutter open for 76 seconds, managed to capture the beautiful colours of Bronte Beach in all their glory.
16. Storming into sunset
"This is a long exposure of one of my favorite viewpoints on White Sands National Monument, taken at sunset with a lighting storm on the far horizon," comments photographer Danilo Faria. A shutter speed of 226 seconds manages to capture the awesome lightning in the background, beautiful light trails from vehicles travelling on the road and sand that's so white it looks like snow. Beautiful.
17. Autumn dance
Unbelievably, Raquel de Castro only got into a photography a few years ago. But his skills have gone from strength to strength, creating an awe-inspiring portfolio of brilliant images. This colourful shot was achieved with a shutter speed of five seconds, de Castro comments, "During Autumn, hundreds of leaves come alive in this beautiful dance of colour in the river."
18. Bangkok traffic
Anyone who has been to Bangkok will appreciate the chaos portrayed in this gorgeous image by photographer and graphic artist Mark Burban. In order to capture the intensity of traffic in this busy city, Burban shot nine seperate long exposures and stacked in Photoshop, resulting in this final composition.
19. In akcion
Milan Malovrh has been practising the art of photography for 40-years. Passionate about his hobby, Malovrh loves to view the world through his camera, commenting, "It opens your eyes to things that you don´t see by the first view." This beautiful image of horses is one of many long exposure photographs he's shot of these elegant creatures, all of which translate superb light and motion.
20. Coming home
This abstract image was taken by software marketer and photographer Andres Caldera while riding the train to the main terminal at Seattle-Tacoma airport. Travelling at speed, Caldera left his camera shutter open for just 2 seconds to capture these beautiful lines.
Like this? Read these!
- Free Photoshop actions to create stunning effects
- The best Photoshop plugins
- Create a perfect mood board with these pro tips
Have you spotted an inspiring example of long exposure photography? Tell us about it in the comments below!