“4. Make manual long exposures
“For this exercise, you’re going to take full advantage of digital photography’s instant feedback, and use it to play with making manual long exposures.
“With your DSLR mounted firmly on a tripod, set the ISO to 100, set the aperture to the smallest opening (the largest f number like f/22 for example), and set the shutter speed to Bulb mode. When the camera is to Bulb mode, the shutter will stay open for as long as the shutter button is held down, but it’s a better idea to attach a wired remote shutter release to prevent camera shake.
“Once you have your composition and your focus set, press and hold the button on the remote to hold the shutter open for a few counted seconds. Just guess how many seconds will be required based on the light level. Then, check your results. If the image is too bright, try again, but count half as many seconds. If the image is too dark, count twice as many seconds – or more, if necessary. Do this over and over again, in different scenarios and lighting situations. This practice will hone your ability to read the levels of light present at any given time.
“You’ll get the most interesting results if there is a certain amount of movement in your frame, such as drifting clouds in the sky, crowds of people, or running water. The longer your exposure is, the more blurred that movement will appear to the point where water may seem like nothing more than mist, and people will disappear from the image altogether. If you have a solid neutral density filter your exposures can be even longer, creating more extreme effects.”
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Anne McKinnell is a photographer, writer and nomad. She lives in an RV and travels around North America photographing beautiful places and writing about travel, photography, and how changing your life is not as scary as it seems.