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How to shoot Long Exposure in Daylight?

long exposure on daylight

Shooting Long Exposures is, to be honest, hard. But, not as hard as shooting Long Exposures in daylight. The bright light condition makes Long Exposure photography tough. Yes, you can easily tackle bright light situations with various filters and camera settings but you got the idea. 

The best way of shooting Long Exposures in daylight is by using the right gears and right settings.

In this article, find out why is it tough to shoot long exposures in daylight, how can you tackle it and how can you get the best results.

Why daylight Long Exposure Photography is hard?

You already know that Long Exposure photography in daylight is quite tough compared to night time or low-light situations. To understand why is it so, you need to understand how Long Exposure photography is done.

Long Exposure photography is an idea of photography where the shutter speed is slower than traditional photography. The only difference between general photography and Long Exposure photography is the shutter speed.

To shoot long exposures, you need to keep the camera shutter open for a while so that it captures more light. This is what makes long exposure shots look buttery smooth and beautiful.

But, this is also the reason why taking Long Exposures in daylight is tough in comparison to night time or low-light situations.

Because there is already not enough light available in the night time or in low-light situations, taking long exposure will result in a perfectly exposed image. But, in daylight things change.

Because there is already enough light available in daylight, taking long exposure will result in an overexposed image.

But how come you see that Long Exposures done in daylight are perfectly exposed like in the example below.

CC George Alexandru Novac

Let me elaborate on how you can overcome issues with Long Exposures in daylight.

How to tackle it?

To overcome the issues with Long Exposures in daylight, photographers use certain strategies for perfect exposure. That includes Right Gears and Right Settings. Yes, using the right kinds of gears and right camera settings are enough to tackle long exposures in daylight and get that perfect and buttery smooth result.

Let me explain.

Right gears


nd filter
ND filter

The first step for perfect long exposures in daylight is using the right gears. Without using any camera gears, general long exposure photography is going to be really really hard. I’m not saying it is not possible but it’ll be really challenging.

And in daylight, the story doesn’t change instead it gets tougher. You always need to have enough gears or right gears more accurately in order to gain perfect exposure.

And by gears, I’m talking about Long exposure necessities such as Tripod and ND filter.

Later in this article, I’ll explain how do you get most out of it.

Here’s an article totally dedicated to the essential gears you may need for long exposure photography. 

Right settings


 In order to obtain perfect exposure on Long Exposure shots, shooting with the right camera settings or configuration is crucial. Not only it helps to make the best use of gears you used, but it also separates your results to ‘good’ long exposure shots from the ‘normal’ long exposure shots.

Right settings include using right ISO sensitivity, right Aperture, and right Shutter speed. And keep in mind, if you’re using ND filters, you may have to tweak your settings accordingly.

And most importantly how can you use slow shutter (key to Long Exposure Photography) to get most out of it. I am talking about Bulb mode. If you’ve never heard about Bulb mode before, here’s an article that you must not miss.

Here are some articles that will perfectly explain the correct usage of ND filters and camera settings.

How to get the best results in daylight Long Exposure Photography?

Till now, you understood why long exposures in the daylight are tough and that you can make use of camera settings and the right gear to tackle it.

In this section, I’ll explain how can you make use of those tactics (right gears and right settings). 

Firstly, before any kind of photography session you need to have your camera set with the right configuration according to your shooting situation and environment. The story is no different for Long Exposure photography. 

In daylight long exposure photography session, the low ISO sensitivity, smaller Aperture, and slower shutter must be balanced.

For example, if you are willing to shoot with slow shutter speed you may want to keep your ISO low and Aperture small. Otherwise, there’s a high chance of overexposed image.

I am not going to explain what settings you must be using because that will totally depend on your subject, the type of filter you are using, the light situation, and the environment you’re shooting. 

So, here’s a chart from BWVision that’ll come handy to you.

long exposure chart

Here’s an article to help you determine with ND filters.

So, make sure that you are using the right camera settings. Below are some other factors that will help you get the perfect exposure in daylight long exposure sessions.

Shooting right things

CC Ekrulila
CC Skitterphoto

Now, this is crucial if you’re a beginner to Long Exposure photography. Shooting the right things simply means choosing the right subject for your photograph. The reason I said it is crucial for beginner photographers is that I’ve seen so many beginner long exposure photographers struggling to find the right subject to shoot. 

Everyone may not live near to the waterfall or a coast so finding the right subjects to shoot is tough and it is understandable. 

But here is a catch. If you don’t have access to the subjects to shoot, try shooting whatever you find. And, it doesn’t just apply to Long Exposure photography.

If you live in an urban area, try to shoot people and night lights.

If you live in a rural area, try shooting clouds and waving trees.

Again, those are not only things to shoot. What you need to understand is that your creativity is your limit. Every time.

If you want an article about subject ideas for Long Exposure photography, let me know by commenting below.shutter

Making the best use of gears

Another one of the most important factors to get butter smooth Long Exposure shots is making use of your gears in the best possible way. 

Now, this also means that you don’t need to have high-end gears in order to get beautiful long exposure shots. It’s about how efficient can you get with the gears and equipment you already have.

That means using basic equipment like Tripod, ND filter, and Remote shutter in the best possible way with the highest level of efficiency.

Here are a couple of tips:

  1. Use Tripod every time. If you don’t have, try best to invest in the one. Tripod is must must-have for Long Exposure photography. Shaky image is Long Exposure’s biggest enemy.
  2. Get some ND filters. I can’t stress to say how dramatic change an ND filter could bring especially in daylight long exposure shots. Read more about ND filters here.


So, that’s about everything you need to know about long exposures in daylight.

In a nutshell, use right gears i.e. Tripod, ND Filters, etc., shoot subjects that fit for daylight long exposure shots, and finally shoot with right settings.

Play around with different settings to get the perfect exposure. Photo sniping is not so good for your photography game. Not related to Long Exposure but still something important to know about photography is that you learn by practicing more and more. Play around with different configurations, settings, framing and get the best out of it.

Here’s my favorite video about being flexible with your sessions.

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