Long exposure photography captures time passing within a frame. With this technique, you can create a world we don’t usually see. Clouds smear, the water turns to glass, and crowds of people disappear as if by magic.

In this article, I’ll take you through the steps for capturing daytime long exposure photography.

What Is Long Exposure Photography?

Long exposure photography is opening the shutter on your camera for an extended period of time. This lets your camera capture more light.

There’s no fixed definition of “long”. I define a long exposure as a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds or longer. But long exposure settings can extend into minutes.

I started learning long exposure photography at night when there isn’t a lot of natural light. I had to leave my shutter open for a long time to gather more light. At night, I use a long exposure because it is necessary to make an image.

But during the day, there is plenty of natural light. Using a long exposure during the day isn’t a necessity. It’s about creating an effect.

There are a few steps you need to know, so you don’t overexpose and ruin your image.


To create daytime long exposure photography, you need to be able to control your camera’s settings. You can do this either in Manual Mode or Shutter Priority Mode.

Most mid to high-end digital cameras have a Manual Mode.


A tripod is absolutely necessary for capturing long-exposures.

Even the steadiest photographer to make a clear image at 0.5 seconds or longer. We naturally shake a little, and this movement shows up as blur in the image.

In long exposures, we want anything moving in the scene to blur. But we want subjects not moving to be in focus.

A sturdy tripod keeps your camera still throughout the exposure.

Neutral Density Filters

Add a Neutral Density (ND) filter to your lens.

ND filters are sheets of glass that reduce the amount of light coming into your camera. They work a bit like sunglasses for your camera.

There are different types of ND filters. The most common are 3-, 6-, and 10-stop filters. The more stops, the less light gets into your camera, and the longer your shutter can be open.

There are two types of ND filters. One kind are square with a mounting system that attaches to the front of your lens. The other type of filter screws onto the front of your lens.

When buying screw-on filters, look at the thread size of your lenses. Buy ND filters that fit the largest of your lenses. Then buy a set of step-down rings that allow you to attach the large filter to your smaller lenses. Stepping UP, screwing a smaller filter onto a larger lens, will create a vignette on your images.

I use Break through Filters, but there are other less expensive options. When buying ND filters, check published reviews for clarity. Cheaper filters may create a color cast on the image and have a vignette – a darkening of the edges.