Ideas to capture light with a long exposure

Half orb

We had a bike wheel wrapped with lights and attached a peg so it could spin in a circle on the floor. We turned off all the lights in a barn outside and set our camera shutter speed to a long exposure of around 3 seconds in order to capture the full rotation so it creates this half orb look. This image is actually three separate images masked together in Photoshop with the orb placed on different parts of the floor while my camera was in the same spot on a tripod. I then changed the color of each orb to add some variation.


Light Sketching

Such a fun idea that yields different results every time! We had our friend Garret stand outside in a dark alley and set our cameras on tripods and set the shutter speed for a long exposure of about 15 seconds to have time to sketch around the subject with flashlights. We put different colors of paper placed over the flash light to create the red and blue. In post production, I masked out any extra light from outside and made the background black so you can see his silhouette.


This second light sketch was done with the bike wheel used in the half orb photo. We had our subject sit down and someone else ran around behind him with the glowing wheel to create all the light trails because of the 30 second long exposure. In post, I changed everything to black and white because I love the stark contrast.



It’s amazing what light can do when you have a long exposure. We were outside a cabin in complete darkness. We had our model stand still for about a 10 second long exposure and used a flash light to light him and the cabin. In post, I darkened the entire photo and then masked out the darkness to create a direct focus on the cowboy.



I love astrophotography! Such a fun thing to capture and there are so many different ideas of how to make your image different. So how to do it in the dark? I used a flash light to light the trees and pond in a 20 second exposure in order to get some color in the trees and reflection in the pond. It’s also fun to mess with the white balance to get different moods. I used auto white balance but tried a few with tungsten and go a cool blue hue.


Have fun with these ideas of how to capture light! If you want some other great ideas of how to capture outdoor long exposure images check out Caryn Esplin’s website:

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