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Mastering Long Exposure Photography

Lesson 1 of 11

Why Long Exposure Photography?

Matt Kloskowski

Mastering Long Exposure Photography

Matt Kloskowski

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Lesson Info

1. Why Long Exposure Photography?
Long exposure photography lets you create dramatic images and opens up new shooting opportunities.

Lesson Info

Why Long Exposure Photography?

So what we're here for for a long exposure photography, This is This is to me this is one of those areas. It really changes landscape and outdoor photography for a lot of reasons. Number one, it's It allows you to put such a different style on some normal scenes, but also number two to meet. It kind of gives me different shooting opportunities. I've always loved shooting the beaches and water, and I I live near Beach and I've always lived near beach, and to me, I'm always drawn to shooting that, and this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for because, honestly, no two photos are ever the same with. So I'm excited about doing it and you guys dabbled. Anybody dabbled in and filters and stuff. So I mean, did you guys have the same problem I had, which is like, there's really nothing. There's no like there's nothing to learn it from, and it's a lot of trial, and error is what it comes down to. So if I can tell you anything, I'm going to tell everybody out there. It's still going t...

o be a lot of trial and error, but my hope is that as you're going along that process, I can kind of help a little bit and kind of share some pitfalls and things that I've been through with it. To help make it a little bit easier for you. Let's jump in. I have a, uh, I have, ah, small kind of slide show here that will help us walk through. So today, today's today's class is kind of a combination of a few things. It's a combination of me talking a little bit about the camera settings about the gear you could see. I've got a lot of the gear appear with me, talking about that, talking about some of what works for a long exposure photography. But we've also on back. On Monday we went out and we did some pre shoot. So we went out to a few different locations because what I wanted to do is cover cover the gear, cover the camera settings, cover all those things here, But to me, it's incomplete if you're not gonna shoot. So obviously we're not all going to go out and shoot. So what I wanted to do is have have some type of a shoot in there where you can see all this stuff that we're talking about and all these thes formulas and things that I'm talking about, where you can see that kind of culminate into our final image. So you got to see all that put into put into practice. So we jump out, you'll see is cut into some videos that we did out in the field and then from there will come back. I'll do a little recap will do Q and A. And then we'll do a little bit of post processing. Because when it comes to your long exposures, I think post processing is is really a key part of it. Um, and then and then So we have three of those. So we have three different shoots. We did one where we kind of smooth out the water. We did another shoot. We're trying to get capture a couple of the waves and what happens when you have a lot of moving water like waves. And then we did one where we we went to take a photo of the downtown Seattle with the the interstate, as it kind of like bends into it and you capture all the moving lights and things like that. I wanted to do another one on capturing moving clouds, and I happen to be in Seattle in the week where there's just not a cloud to be seen in this guy. This is, this happened a lot. Most of the air just so. It's just like it's a gear hidden secret that it rains. A lot of Seattle doesn't really ring a lot, anyway. Said there wasn't a cloud to be captured, so we'll talk a little bit about that part of their and how we can do it. Um, all right, so let's jump in here. So why long exposure photography? What's what kind of benefits will give to our outdoor photos? Um, to capture movement is really the key thing. So you're you're never gonna put ah, neutral density filter. You're never going to do anything to extend your shutter speed to not capture movement. Okay, if there's nothing of interest moving in your seen, forget about all this stuff, you don't need it. So it's really about capturing some type of movement, right? So as an outdoor is a landscape photographers as getting out there. If something's moving and It's interesting if you can show that motion without it being overwhelming to the photo, then now you can add a different level to your photo rather than just taking your camera. Capturing a perfectly still seen so the capture of movement things like beaches, water waves, waterfalls we want to capture. We want to capture that movement in the water. You know, one of the one of the golden rules off waterfalls is were really not supposed to freeze the water because regardless of what you think, that's not the way that we see a waterfall. All right, we don't see a waterfall at 250th of a second frozen. We actually see the moving water, which is why we want to recreate that in the photo. Ah, a lot of times, if you go out at sunrise and sunset, you don't have to do anything. Just put your camera on a tripod, and just the reduction in light will do fine. But what we're going to talk about is sometimes you're not out there at sunrise and sunset. Sometimes the only place you can be at some of these places might be during the day or when it gets a bit brighter out. Well, if there's too much light, then you're gonna freeze the water. So how do you How do you keep that from happening? Clouds, clouds is another one. So we clouds are moving. Sometimes it can make for a really dramatic scene if we can capture some of those streaky clouds and then finally lights. So if there's lights, moving cars, whatever it happens to be carnivals, lots of different options there and you can capture that, it looks really cool, especially when you can put that in the context of some great scenery. And we've got a couple of different photo examples there. So we talked about beaches. All right, so long exposure and let me define really quick. Um, so what do I mean by long exposure? I really mean anything from one second to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 60 minutes, whatever. But it's really anything beyond capturing still frozen life. That's what I consider a longer exposure. So it could be just a few seconds. It could be a minute. Could be multiple minutes. But if you see here, you know we're capturing. We're not necessarily freezing the water in the waves, but it's not necessarily so soft that you don't see any detail in there, so we're letting a little bit of motion happen. All right, you'll see texture. You'll see some of those streaks in the waves, but you could still tell that they're waves as well. Here's another one. So these air these air a lot of my favorite scenes to shoot when when you get that water and you see it kind of come up and you can capture those patterns in the water. To me, it really adds an element to the scene rather than just freezing the water waterfall, right, there's another one for you. So this was You can see. You can see the sun coming in from overhead, so this was not taken at sunrise or sunset. This was it was definitely much brighter. So the longer exposures help us to to capture and smooth out that water. There's another one. All right, so sunrise over at Mt. Rainier again, just using a little bit of a longer exposure to capture some motion in that water. We looked at this similar location to this yesterday in the photo shop for landscape photographers class but this photo you know you can see See all the little kind of the undulations inside of the water as it goes over the rocks and you capture all those patterns. Azul water moves around there, you know, if you just capture, it's still it's reflective. It's almost chaotic in some ways, and having that longer exposure Smoothes it out for you. This was another fun one, so this was probably 2nd exposure. And if for anything, sometimes it as an element of I want to say, I want to say creativity. But it adds an element of almost like you're always striving t try something and capture something different with it because it is, it's difficult. It's like you're doing get the water as it's fallen in. Do I get the water as the wave crashes doing? Get the water four seconds after the wave crashes and you're always out there and you always trying to craft that shot and get that perfect moment and it does it. There's something to be said for the experience of taking a photo rather than just the photo, And to me it's added an a lot bigger element of fun into the photography. This was a so interesting back story. Um, I went out to this location which is just outside of Portland, only on the gorge, and got wet suits, and you climb over this massive logjam to get to it and and then you climb over this massive logjam and then as you walk down into into this little canyon area, eventually the waters over your head. So you need a dry pack and you're swimming everything. So I'm thinking if there's any point in time in the in this day, I'm going to get her. This is going to be the photo shoot. And I did you know, we were careful and we made it out. Everybody was OK. So then later on that day, we drive down the coast and we go here, and this looks This looks a lot more treacherous than it is really? On your walk out here, it's just rocks. All right. So if you're careful when you're just walking on the rocks, you're good. If you get too close to this, you definitely don't want to get hit by wave. But there's a little area to jump across. And me being stupid. Just got my camera on, got my backpack on, got my tripod and me being stupid. I was really more concerned with getting across it and never really looked what was on the other side. And there's a rock about, like, this big. My ankle hit it, rolled it right over. So I was standing on one leg when I took this photo trying to avoid having to put pressure, but just funny how Ah, yeah, I think I'm gonna get hurt here when I'm climbing over logjams and swimming through water and I get hurt in a stupid place anyway. All right, Eso there's another one. Clouds, streaky clouds. So you do you have You know, you have a 5 10 15 22nd exposure and you'll capture the movement in the clouds. There's a similar shot to where we want the other night, but you could see all the lights as they kind of converge into downtown. So if you do, you know 15 20 32nd exposure and capture those lights. It really makes for a nice photo. Um, also So we're talking about why long exposure to simplify to simplify. So when I think of most of long exposure is done. The water, okay, It's generally gonna be most of what are long exposure photos and and what it will do for you is it will simplify your scene, right? There's a lot of moving things going on when there's water around you. And a lot of times we strive to find something of interest in the photo. The photos Generally not just gonna be water there. There's something there. There's a rock tree. There's a piling or whatever it happens to be and what long exposure helps you do. It's simplify the scene so that you can really concentrate on what types of pieces of images are inside that photo. So in an example like this, this is Ah, this is in Bandon, Oregon, and you know, kind of mid day. You can see the blue in this guy kind of a little bit of an overcast day, but there's all these thes old docks in these pilings and everything that that air there, a buddy of mine and I were kind of walking through town, and we saw this from like, that's kind of cool. So you walk over and you see all these things in the water, and it's kind of neat and you take a picture and this is what you get. And I think what happens in our minds is, is when we're standing there were not necessarily seeing frozen semi Ripley water, right? We're kind of absorbing the whole thing. And we see the feeling we see the water as it's moving. And we see the scene of these beautiful, this gorgeous patterns of these pilings and everything. And and you take the photo and it doesn't It doesn't represent what you what you were thinking when you saw that You look at it and you're like, man. So now put a neutral density filter on, get a longer shutter speed, Same photo locked down on a tripod, same exact location, and you get that very, very different. That's before that's after. So that's what I'm talking about with this stuff. That, to me, is really what opens up a whole new world for, ah, for some of your shooting possibilities. Another reason. Drama and interest, clouds and movement. All right, so this is this is actually downtown Seattle. All right, take my camera. Look up in the sky point. That's a shop, but a little bit of post processing for some black and white. A little bit of contrast and whatnot. But most importantly, a longer exposure. You could get something like that. So big difference other than the black and white, I think what really makes it is the movement. All right, look what it does to the light. You can see how it just kind of it makes you really concentrate on the light in the photo, because now everything is moving. So you don't have the clouds reflective in here necessarily. But, you know, you can see kind of the larger areas of light happening inside the photo. All right, So what works? Best? Best scenes for long exposure. Kind of alluded to it earlier, but what works best, So I think water is gonna be the number one thing. All right. Anything with water that that is probably 80 90% of what are long exposure scenes air really gonna be. So you're generally going to look for something with water. You're gonna I'm always looking up in the sky. So when I'm out there shooting, if I see something and I look up and I see clouds moving. I'm I'm going to kind of see how I can incorporate that into the photo. Ah, lot of times it depends, too, because just because you can doesn't always mean you should. Just because the clouds are moving doesn't mean let me put my filter on and make him look streaky. A lot of times it really depends if I've got gorgeous, gorgeous clouds, your beautiful puffy clouds that have gorgeous light in them. Sometimes I'm not gonna do anything with it because that looks good in and of itself. So a lot of times it really depends on the scene. You know, the less like the less color than I start looking into the clouds. But if the clouds air moving, I'm thinking of how I can use those in my photo, talked about lights, car lights and then stars. So, you know, go back to a photo that we saw earlier. When I see, especially when I see more rough waves, the waves that actually, you know, we'll push the water up the sand and back and you see it receiving back in to me, that's like, get out the long exposure get out the filters. That's that's number one because the more the more turbulent the waters, the more that it's pushing the water up and down the sand, the mawr, those patterns that you're gonna get. And it's like you're like a kid in the candy store. You can walk around on a beach and you can literally they're all over. You can get a different photo every single time. And it is you're trying to capture different things. So it becomes more of a game and trying to figure out what that water is going to do. Follow those patterns and and see what you can get from. But when I went t this location, this was once I looked through my photos. It's like this one jumped out at me immediately, right? Cause we've got we've got a cool object that we're taking a picture off. But when you see the way that that water just kind of curves and lead you right into it, it just kind of makes it a perfect candidate for streaky clouds. All right, so do long enough exposure and and you get those clouds that appear to have those those streaks in what I'm usually looking for. And we'll talk about this a little bit later, too. Um, but what I'm usually looking for is I'm looking for some type of movement toward me When clouds air streaking and they're going side to side, Then they kind of just look like their streak inside the side, which which is kind of neat. But when the clouds air coming toward you are moving away from you to me, it's a lot more dramatic, all right, it's actually coming out at you, and that's what that's what grabs me when when we start looking at things like that. Lights. So this is downtown L. A, um, set up on a tripod, get a long enough exposure, and you can capture all those moving lights. But then you keep everything else. Still, when you put that motion into the photo, but then you have this still aspect of it. I think it creates a nice stuff. I put this in here because I wanted to kind of get out of front. This is the one thing we're really not going to talk about today. I consider this more star and astro photography than I necessarily do long exposure photography. Not going to talk about today, mainly because I don't shoot it. And I don't shoot it because I just personally don't care for the style. It's just everybody's got their personal preference, and it's like whenever I see that I'm like, Why are the stars moving? I never look up in the sky and see the stars moving. So why are they moving? So it's Ah, just ITT's not a personal preference of mind, So we're not gonna cover much of that today. Okay, So before we jump into the gear, that's questions. Anything going on back there? My question is, Is it pot? Have you done long exposure inside in order to use whatever ambient light may effect and an interior? And I know that you're landscape photographer, but are there times when you could see that this would be an application for inside as well. I mean, how do you mean effect an interior? So an example? Um, I've been in spaces that are really cool architecturally inside, and if the architect has done a good job with light, then the light can play on whatever the details are inside. And so I would be. I'm not capturing movement, but I'm capturing the richness of the light and the detail inside. I haven't eso. What I would say is, I don't know that I don't know that that richness of the lights gonna change over 30 seconds. So I would say that just a well exposed photo will probably capture. Most of it would be worth a try. What what can happen is if you're taking a picture of an interior that's got changing light like maybe there's a cloud outside in the life changing. There's some interesting effects that you'll get from the changing because it'll happen outside to if you're out there and you're shooting a long exposure on like a partly cloudy day and the sun's coming in and out and there's maybe a mountain or trees or something like that. And so imagine over the course of 60 seconds, imagine light changing where it's hitting on different parts of a photo. It looks pretty cool. So you could I could see the same thing happening on an interior. Everybody we got online. Yeah, we have a couple questions. Don't take this. Take. All right, get into the gear because the craving, pride getting some creative questions. Want to get into the gear? The questions are going Private flights. Do you have any compositional suggestions for long exposure Pictures? Like compositional suggestions would be I am gonna I'm gonna probably load the photo with whatever that long, long this is whatever you know, whatever. Whenever I'm taking the long exposure for, I'm probably gonna load the photo with that. So in this example here you can see the clouds are streaky, so I'm front loading the photo. 2/3 of the photos. Really? The clouds here, um, again, You could see now we got some streaky water, So at least half of the photo to kind of go back through it, go back through a couple of different ones here. I mean again. 2/3 of the photo is is the long portion of that same thing with this one. Although this is a need shot zoomed into, but as we go through some of those photos, you can see I'm compositionally. I'm usually going through to try toe to show off what the best part is.

Class Description

Long exposure photography helps you to create truly dramatic images. In Mastering Long Exposure Photography with Matt Kloskowski you’ll learn how to capture images in which water appears to move and clouds streak across the sky.

Matt is a landscape photographer and the best-selling author of over 20 books on photography, Lightroom, and Photoshop. In this class, you’ll watch Matt at work in the field as he demonstrates his favorite techniques. 

You’ll learn about:

  • Camera settings for capturing extended exposures 
  • Helpful photography equipment and apps 
  • Post-processing long exposure images 

Matt will discuss which filters work for long exposure photographs and he’ll show you how to create images that seem to move and convey the passage of time.

If you've been wanting to create dramatic images, Mastering Long Exposure Photography with Matt Kloskowski is the class for you. It'll open you up to a whole new style of captivating fine art photography.



I always enjoy the opportunity to learn something new from one of my favorite teachers, and Matt rarely disappoints. The material that he covers in this class on long exposures will give the viewers enough tools and techniques to get them on their way to creating quality captures. He gives many tips how to overcome some of the most commonly found issues and pitfalls that long exposures can include. If there was any disappointment in what I received, it would be the duplication of the "bonus" material (except for the 'cheat sheet') from the class I had purchased the day before. I might add that "Photoshop and Lightroom for Landscape Photographers" is a great companion to this class and is also worthy of purchase. The second disappointment, at least for me, was Matt's not including long exposures that involve capturing the night sky... stars, Milky Way, Moon, etc. THAT would be a perfect opportunity for CreativeLive to jump in and put a class together. I would be willing to bet that it would be HUGELY popular. Just a thought! Again, a big 'thank you' to Matt for another solid presentation. I'll be tuning in to his next presentation.

D Kelly

Excellent class! Great for beginners who want to learn LE photography. I started experimenting with LE last Fall and this course totally reinforced everything I learned. I loved the "hands on" demonstrations in the field and how each frame he shot was explained. His excellent explanations of how to use the filters was very good. An easy going instructor who made what is often a confusing subject very easy to grasp.

Karen Witter

I have loved all of the classes I've taken from Matt, and this class was no exception. Matt explains everything so clearly and then beautifully illustrates what he means. I learned a ton from this class. I love how practical he is, as well as his engaging manner of teaching. I highly recommend this class if you're interested in taking pictures where you want to convey motion which, as he explains, is how our eyes really see.