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How to Take a Long Exposure With The Unleashed

Upon popular demand, we introduced the Long Exposure feature last summer. The Unleashed offers many technical possibilities, so it was a logical step to implement this. Thus the Unleashed replaces another essential part of a classic intervalometer – in addition to interval photography, it also enables bulb photography without touching the camera. In addition, the Unleashed also offers the possibility to define the length of the photo as desired – just press the shutter once and the rest happens automatically. More on this below. This replaced the Unleashed’s flash compensation feature, which we noticed most users weren’t using much, and made room for the Long Exposure feature. Here’s an overview of how to take stellar long exposures with your Unleashed!

Definition of long exposure photography

In case you’re new to the topic, here is a quick definition: a long exposure is any photo taken with a shutter speed much longer than usual, about 1 second and longer. This allows you to photograph very dark subjects like night skies and capture intentional motion blur in photos. The long exposure time smooths out the movement of water, clouds, cars, etc. creating very smooth, flowing effects.


Using the Unleashed App for long exposures

The first thing you need to know about long exposures are the three ways you can create one. For the first one you simply need to set your exposure time to bulb, making sure you are in manual (M) mode, and hold down the shutter button for as long as you want the exposure to be. This works well up until a certain point, but imagine holding it down for minutes, let alone hours.

Here is where the Long Exposure Duration setting comes in: it allows you to select a precise time in 1/3rd stop increments for up to 4.6 hours. Or choose time mode where you press once to open and once more to close the shutter. In both modes the Unleashed will keep the trigger pressed, so you no longer have to hold it manually. Of course you can also cancel at an earlier time. As usual, the Unleashed keeps shooting even when you close the app, or go out of range with your phone – no need to stay connected or keep the app on!


The long exposure feature is perfect for night photography, star trails, light painting and working with ND filters. For more inspiration and in-depth information on long exposures, check out our blog article about it here.

We hope this helps you better understand and use the Long Exposure function of your Unleashed. Make sure to tag us if you use it – we look forward to your shots!

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How to? – Long Exposure

How-to-do-long-exposure

As we’re reviving our blog, we were thinking that it’s necessary to introduce a series that is about photography and filmmaking itself: The terminology, the basics, techniques or hacks. At some point we might even get other photographers to post their “best-way” practice or share their newest “how-to”. Let’s see where this takes us. As our final goal is to see people flourish in what they love doing, we want to help in the best ways we can. Well… and since we’re kind of into this photography thing, we want to engage with other photographers and filmmakers all over the world. So if you love your camera or are even just getting started: You’re right here. :-)

We know, in general, there are many ways or techniques to reach a certain goal. It’s the same when taking photos or videos. That’s why, whenever we or someone else is posting something, we want to start a conversation and discuss ideas – always in a respectful way.

Well today, we want start the series off by looking into some of the basics: Long Exposures.

LONG EXPOSURES

A small excursion into the making of a photo: A photo in general, needs exposure in order to be able to show what you actually photographed. In a more technical sense: It’s the amount of light hitting the electronic image sensor – or in earlier days – the photographic film. It determines how bright or dark a picture is in the end. Obviously, it is a variable thing, so it can (and should) vary from photo to photo in order to have the “perfect” exposure (which in the end is very much subjective) or to achieve a certain effect.

In photography, the exposure that can be controlled by your camera, is determined by the shutter speed, aperture (the opening of the lens) and ISO (which basically controls the brightness and darkness of your photo). It’s a formula of three variables. For long exposures, yes, you consider all three variables, however, shutter speed is the significant factor: It is the only variable that actually has a relevant connection to time. That’s why it’s called “LONG” exposure. So the idea behind playing around with shutter speed is, that, because of the time factor, you’re able to catch (more) movement – things that happen over a period of time. And in the end, movement is what makes and creates a typical long exposure shot.

Typical scenarios where long exposures are and have been used:

Night Photography

This topic deserves an own article since it’s huge. There are many different ways to take photos at night, but one thing is for sure: If you don’t want a super dark photo and a lot of noise (because of a very high ISO), there is no other way but making use of a very slow shutter speed – because at some point the lens cannot be more open to catch more light (aperture).


Night Photography

Star Trails

Even though it’s part of night photography, catching star trails is a category of its own since it demands certain techniques (bulb mode, stacking etc.) and especially a lot of preparation and timing. The idea behind it is to catch the stars’ movement, caused by the earth’s rotation, which creates these very nice trails.

Light Painting

Here, you typically keep the scene very dark and use a light source (flashlight, fire, smartphone LED) to “paint” something in the air. Since the shutter is open and the (bright) light source is not at one place for a long time (because of the movement), you get crystal clear lines of light, even letting you write entire sentences.


Light Painting

Water-Long-Exposures

Being used in combination with the HDR technique quite often, long exposures of moving water create a very mystic/mist-like look. In combination with the – most of the time – not moving objects around, before or behind the blurry water, the photos are super interesting and definitely worth trying.

City-Long-Exposure

It’s the same principle as for water-long-exposures. This time, the not-moving elements of the photo are the buildings and the moving elements are the cars with their lights on, creating those beautiful light trails tracing the streets of the city.

Car Light Trails


So the next time you want to go out there to take photos, just go out at night. It brings tons of opportunities to be creative and to take beautiful photos that are also fun doing. Just set your camera into manual mode, try to keep your ISO down, open up your aperture and play around with shutter speed. Very important: Try to use a camera remote control so you don’t have to touch your camera. Otherwise, you might cause some shaking and the photo is not sharp but blurry.

Let us know in the comments what long exposures you like doing the most or what special tips you have for certain scenarios and effects.

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