Ideal Camera Settings to Click Long Exposure Photos in Day Light

long exposure photos day time

Clicking long exposure photos at night is something which you might have been practicing intentionally or due to low light conditions. Challenge your creative skills by clicking long exposure photos during day-time, and trust me the results would be interesting and unusual.

Do you know you can capture long exposures without using the ND filter and manage to get well-exposed photos? I am not stating that the points I am going to discuss in this post would eliminate the use of ND filter, but they can surely allow you to slow down the shutter speed of your camera to capture long exposure shots.

You might have been using high shutter speed to capture moments while clicking photos during the day-time, but why go by the usual way all the time? By making some exposure changes in your camera, you can possible click long exposure photos to show movement in your frames. The camera exposure depends on three factors which we are going to discuss below: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

long exposure day time

ISO sensitivity

The ISO value that you set on your camera defines the sensitivity of the camera sensor. The more the ISO number, the more sensitive the camera sensor becomes to light thus resulting in more grains. As you increase the ISO number by 1-stop (e.g. from ISO 100 to ISO 200), the sensitivity of the camera sensor increases by double. Similarly, when you reduce the ISO number by 1-stop (e.g. from ISO 200 to ISO 100) the sensitivity of the camera sensor reduces by half.

So in order to click a long exposure shot, you need to set the ISO value to the minimum so that less light enters the camera sensor. Using the ISO value of 50 or 100, whichever is the least value available on your camera, is the ideal choice.

Aperture value

The aperture value that you define on your camera controls the lens opening, which therefore defines the amount of light entering through the lens on the camera sensor. The bigger the lens opening, the more the light would enter into the camera. Similarly, the smaller the lens opening the lesser would be the amount of light entering into the camera.

To click a long exposure photo during the day time, you will have to ensure that the minimum light enters the camera through the lens opening. Therefore you will have to use a higher aperture value such as f/16 or f/22 in order to keep the lens opening as small as possible.

Shutter Speed

By adjusting the shutter speed on your camera, you can control the duration for which the light would enter the camera. Using a fast shutter speed such as 1/500 sec, your camera lets you freeze the motion in your photo. In order to show the movement of your subject or to click long exposure photos, you will have to use a slow shutter speed while clicking the photo.

But how to get slow shutter speed during the day time to click Long Exposure Photos?

As discussed above, the exposure of the camera is controlled by Shutter Speed, Aperture opening, and ISO sensitivity. The first thing that you need to ensure is that the ISO value is set to the minimum value possible, it would be anything between ISO 50 and ISO 200 depending on the camera model. This would allow the camera sensor to be less sensitive to light, thus allowing you to increase the shutter speed.

Once you have set the minimum ISO value, you need to close the aperture opening in order to let in less light so that the shutter speed can be increased. You can set the aperture opening to the minimum possible by using the highest aperture value available on your lens, anything between f/16-f/32 would be idle.

Once you have set the minimum ISO value and the maximum aperture value, you have made the best possible scenario to slow down the shutter speed in order to click long exposure shots. If earlier you were getting a shutter speed of 1/200 sec at f/4, by using the aperture value of f/22 you can slow down the shutter speed to 1/5 sec and click long exposure photos.

Alternative: Use Shutter Priority Mode to click Long Exposure Photos

If you have just started using a DSLR camera and are not well aware of how to use the shutter speed, aperture and ISO together, simply use the shutter priority mode and get started with long exposure photography in day light. Depending upon the available light and the shutter speed that you chose, your camera will set the aperture value and ISO. This enable you to concentrate on the frame and execution of the shot rather than worrying about exposure values.

Example 1: I clicked this image at round 5:30 p.m. by using the shutter speed of 10 seconds, as I had set the ISO at 100 and the aperture value at f/16.

long exposure day time

EXIF: f/16, 10 sec, ISO 100

Example 2: In the photo shown below, I knew that the photo that I want would be captured using the shutter speed of 1/10 second so I switched my camera to shutter priority mode. Then I set the shutter speed to 1/10 second and the camera automatically defined the aperture value as per the available light, which was f/9.5. I had manually set the ISO to 100.

long exposure day time

EXIF: f/9.5, 1/10 sec, ISO 100

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About Author

Kunal Malhotra
Kunal Malhotra, a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog: The Photography Blogger. Some of his favourite genres of photography are Product, Street, Fitness and Architecture.