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35+ Long Exposure Ideas and Inspirations

Long exposure photography is fun. Once you take off from the basics of Long Exposure photography, you keep on flying. And, after you broaden your expertise in the general Long Exposure ideas, there’s no way back. For me, Long Exposure photography is much more fun than other general photography.

But, there are times when you might find yourself badly stuck hunting for subject ideas to shoot. This doesn’t apply just to Long Exposure photography but it is tougher.

The bitter truth, Long Exposure ideas are pretty limited. Unlike general photography, you can’t take Long Exposures anywhere you want. Sure, there are thousands of ideas but again, they might be limited depending on where you live.

So, in this article, I’ll be taking you through some of the best Long Exposure ideas and inspirations with an example photograph. They should help you in some way to find your next subject.

And, let me tell you something. Some of these examples will include the kind of images you normally see. And you’ll be amazed to know that those kinds of photos are achieved with Long Exposure photography. Long exposure photography is huge.

So, before you jump on, note that I’ve categorized all ideas and examples according to the type of Long Exposure photography. So, under each type, there’ll be subtype and their example.

Long Exposure on Water


Let’s start up with one of my absolutely favorite kind of Long Exposure subject. That is, of course, the coast. There’s something about coasts that really set my mood. Have a look at some examples.

coast long exposure ideas
Shot by Ludovic Charlet, this is an excellent example of Long Exposure Photography on a coast. Beautifully framed with dramatic clouds that triggers a moody vibe.
coast long exposure ideas
Shot by Photo by Alen Rojnic, this is another one of the beautiful Long Exposure ideas that fully takes advantage of the golden hour.

As you can see, shooting long exposure on a coast or rocks in general is one of the great long exposure ideas.


Another one is the most popular Waterfall photography. If you’ve ever shoot waterfall and shoot it as still, you missed a fun. Long exposures on waterfall really shine with that silky looks that water droplets create. Look at some examples.

waterfall long exposure ideas
Photo by Gerald Lobenwein, this is a beautiful example of Long Exposure ideas on the waterfall. Those clouds and perfectly framed waterfall looks one of a kind.
waterfall long exposure ideas
Shot by Robert Lukeman, this is one of my favorite Long Exposure photograph. Just look how stunning that color hue looks on the blurred water.
waterfall long exposure ideas
Photo by Nathan Anderson, this image portrays how different Long Exposure photography is from General Photography. Just beautiful.

Those were some of the most epic long exposure shots of the waterfall. Take inspiration from those images and put them into your list of long exposure ideas.


Moving on, a bit different from the previous one. Let’s say the previous one and this one are neighbors. Yes, I’m talking about river. Let these images explain themselves.

river long exposure ideas
Photo by Annka, this is how beautiful a river looks when you mix your creativity with the beauty of nature.
river long exposure ideas
Shot by Cosmic Timetraveler, this is another marvellous example of Long Exposure photography on river with moody sky and butter smooth river.

So that’s all about Long Exposure ideas related to Long Exposure photography on water. As always, what I believe is our creativity is our limit.

Long Exposure with Lights Trails

Highway Trails

Highway light trail is one of the famous long Exposure ideas. The idea takes help from all available lights on the highway . See the examples.

highway trail long exposure ideas
Photo by Trushots, this image perfectly plays the example of Long Exposure on Highway trails. Beautiful.
highway trail long exposure ideas
Photo by Charl Folscher. What I really love about this picture is how the photographer blended the black and white with colorful light trails. This is really good inspiration.

Those examples are enough to understand the potential of your creativity. Good luck.

Light Painting

Another one of the much trended Long Exposure ideas is Light Painting. This is a great idea if you really want to blast the Instagram algorithm. Yes, I’ve seen it happen. Inspire yourself with these examples.

light painting
Shot by Teefarm, I was literally stunned by this image when I saw it for the first time. To create a final image like this, I can only imagine how much motivation and work is required for it. Hats off to the photographer.
light painting long exposure ideas
Shot by Jan Mares, this is the perfect example of the saying ‘creativity is your limit’.

So as you saw, light painting really makes a normal photograph look stunning. Why not try today on the highway nearby?

Night Photography

General Night Photography

Now, this is pretty straightforward. I am pretty sure you’ve seen a night photograph before. No, I am not talking about flash photography. The reason night photography fits here is simple. That’s because night photography (in some way) is indirectly long exposure photography. Because yeah, the camera needs to suck up the light for some seconds to enlighten the night. Let these images explain.

Photo by Rudy and Peter Skitterians. This image perfectly shows what night photography looks like
Photo by Nathan Anderson. Yes, it is long exposure photography and it is also night time. You got the idea.

Nowadays smartphones are killing when it comes to night photography. But, human creativity is always above algorithms. Be creative.


Now, this is fun. I mean Astrophotography is one of the most complex sub-genre of Long Exposure photography. Not only it produces stunning end results, but it is also one of the most expensive and tough genres of photography. If you’re an absolute beginner to Long Exposure photography, you might have to go through a certain learning curve. Astrophotography is tough but it is not hard. Have a look at some inspirational astrophotography long exposure ideas.

astrophotography long exposure idea
Photo by Bryan Goff, this is one of the most stunning astrophotography image ever. If this doesn’t inspire you to get it and start shooting. I don’t know what does.
astrophotography - long exposure school
Photo by Lars Nissen. Just look at this image. How tiny do you feel when you think about our galaxy? Think about it.
deep sky - long exposure school
Photo by Wikil Images, this stunning photograph is a perfect example of what I was talking about earlier. No doubt this is visually stunning, the amount of work that goes to create images like this is tremendous. Hats off to the photographer.

Those are just a few examples of Astrophotography. Astrophotography has a huge list of sub-genres; stars to galaxy and what not. Learn it, try it and I’m pretty sure it’ll not be that hard for you. i have an upcoming guide related to Astrophotography. Stay tuned for that.

Star Photography

Now this sub-genre somehow clashes with the earlier sub-genre – astrophotography. But, the potential of Star photography is so huge that it surely deserves a different spot. Look at some great examples.

stars - long exposure school
Photo by Patrick Carr. This is what I was talking about earlier. Mr. Carr has some serious level of talent.
stars - long exposure school
Photographer unknown. But what impressed me most about this image is the lend between the sky and the earth. It just looks majestic. And, let me know if you now the photographer who shot it. The credibility of work is the biggest asset for an artist.

So, those are just a couple of examples tat portray the star photography. Let the night fall, go out, point your camera towards the sky and suck up those lights.

Long Exposure on Day Sky


long exposure beach
Photo by Tim Hill. This image really shows how a small motion can make a dramatic dfference.
long exposure ideas
Shot by Kanenori, it is perfect example to portray long exposure ideas on clouds.

Other Long Exposure ideas

Long Exposure on Street

You might be already familiar with street photography. Yes, it is huge and it is dense. If you want to make your street shots stand out, use this trickery. Yes, use motion. Motion can be achieved with the help of Long Exposure Photography. Look at some examples.

street long exposure photography
Photo by Ekrulila. This image PERFECTLY tells a story about a random street in Turkey. This is what you can achieve with Long Exposure instead of plain still if you’re onto street photography.
street long exposure photography
Shot by Oleksy, it perfectly shows how a split second of Long Exposure can bring a dramatic change in your picture. This is an excellent shot.

Those are just two examples of street photography with Long Exposures. The goal here is to give you an idea and you got it. Try to be a little bit more creative with your subject by adding some motion and that should bring you some good results. Don’t forget the tripod though.

Long Exposure on People

Now this sub-genre might clash with the Long Exposure on street but you need to understand that street not only contains people. And this genre is specific just to people. I mean, the subject is the group of people or a single person.

street long exposure photography
This is an excellent example of Long Exposure on street shot by Brian Merril. The picture is enough to describe itself.
street long exposure photography
Photo by Skitterphoto. This is a genius piece of art. Not including a color makes it much more dramatic and it tells some kind of story.

So, that’s how you capture the everyday rush of people and tell a powerful story. All you have to do is to slow down your shutter speed and capture whatever your frame gets. Easy as that.


Keep checking our INSPIRATION GALLERY every few weeks for new ideas and inspirations. It’s completely free. Every single Long Exposure photographs used by Long Exposure School will be there soon.


So, those are some of the ideas that would give you some way if you’re really stuck because of ideas. Again, I’m reminding this for the 10th time in the single article, creativity is the limit. Play around different camera settings and use different techniques and venues. And make sure you have some basic equipment required for Long Exposure photography. If not, read this.

if those long exposure ideas really inspired you, let me know in the comments below.

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  1. Salu

    I think this article is absolutely perfect for photographer and who are beginner and are not more related to camera..thank you..hope to see new article soon

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