Long Exposure Photography

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Downtown Skyline

Creative exposures

Nothing beats a creatively exposed photograph. I have always admired photographs that engage the viewer’s eye and prompts him or her to react a certain way. Even before I started getting into photography and taking it very seriously. The type of photographs that somehow force the viewer to spend a little extra time in an attempt to fully digest all of the elements that make them “creative” exposures.

I have been exposed to “long light trails” type of photographs a very long time ago. And I have tried to create “creative” photographs using the various point-and-shoots before, where I have attempted to write names or make shapes using a small source of light.

Shutter speed is a powerful tool that could be used to create “creative” exposures and take one’s photographs to a whole other level. When understood and used correctly, depending on what you, the photographer, are trying to convey, you can expect some stunning results.

I am very happy I got to read a bunch of photography books, that were amazing at making me grasp this concept of long exposure photography.


Last Saturday, I decided to take a trip to downtown Houston, about 25 miles away from my place, to take this photograph that I have been imagining myself taking while reading about long exposure photography. I wanted to get a shot of the city skyline behind the freeway. I wanted to use a slow shutter speed  in order to capture the cars’ light trails. Now, I do not go downtown very often, so I was not sure what location would allow me to get the shot I have been envisioning. Also, I could not afforded spending half of the day walking around and trying to figure out the best spot. So I used good ol’ Google Maps along with Google Earth, Street View and all that Jazz and landed on the best spot ever. I made sure my camera battery is charged, grabbed my lenses, cheap tripod, and headed out.

Upon getting onsite, and to my surprise, the one spot for the ideal image has a chain link fence that is a good eight feet tall and goes across the whole road over the freeway. I walked across the a few times and the only spots I could take a photo are on both sides of the street, which is not really ideal for what I wanted. After deciding to  walk a third time from one side of the road to the other, and right in the middle, I was surprised to see two big holes in the fence. I immediately realized that I was not the first one to discover this spot, and some GENIUS ran into the same issue as I did and figured out a way to fix it, by cutting holes in the fence :P.

Excited and all, I pulled my “cheap” tripod that I bought off Amazon for no more than $15. -I did not know how important a tripod could be when I purchased it-, mounted my Canon to it, and was shocked to find out the tripod did not reach any of the openings in the fence that the photographers before me had already made. I am not even going to start with how full of rage I was. But, I have managed to capture the shot below that I am quite happy with.

The lesson I learned from this is that I have to do my research as soon as possible and invest in a good quality tripod that I can use for years to come without having to worry about it.

The next day, I took a longer trip this time to Kemah, Texas, which is about 55 miles away from where I live. This time, I went down there to take another photograph that I had in mind. This trip on the other hand, went very smooth as I was well prepared and there were no chain link fences to ruin my day. Below is the photograph I took, which is probably one of the top 3 photos I have ever taken.