My introduction to long exposures

While looking for a photo for this blog I ran across the first long exposure shots I took on random instances while at Disney World. According to my Lightroom catalog, I came home with 1,586 shots from that week and still have yet to process the bulk of this. However, when I came across these I remembered how much fun it was taking them and decided to share. I guess these may not be considered professional or technically sophisticated in any photographic capacity, but thats not the point. Turning light sources into something artistic and abstract out of sheer luck is something that you cannot do by taking control. Not knowing how a long exposure shot is going to render after (finally) releasing that shutter button can seem like a backwards and terrifying process for photographers who are obsessed with precision... but who doesn't love a surprise now and then?!

Flotsam and Jetsam, 15mm, f/8, 3.2sec, iso 200 
Next time you are bored (preferably at night), turn your camera to bulb mode, go out and find something bright/shiny and photograph it for a random period of time... Wave your camera around. Rotate it. Jump. Run. Jump while running. Run while rotating, waving, and jumping (j/k dont do that last one you might get hurt). The point is to not really have an idea of how things are going to turn out until you are out there. Sometimes the results are bad and do not have any sort of positive composition. But... usually with a little experimentation or sometimes by blind luck you can come up with some pretty unique photos. I recommend doing this especially if you have never used the bulb feature on your DSLR or micro four-thirds digital camera. Even if you do not enjoy this type of photography it will expose you (pun intended) to this great setting that you can then utilize for something else. 

Chasing dreams, 50mm, f/1.8, 1.5sec, iso 200
When I was first reading about the EM5 I did not have any idea what the "live bulb" or "live time" modes were.. I figured they were features that I wouldn't use because I did not fully understand what they did. It was only after I read articles on astro-photography that I understood their usefulness. Going from a minimal photographic background to the EM5 was a bit of an undertaking at first. I had done a lot of research on photographic principals, but putting it into action required something more. Nevertheless, I did not experiment with bulb mode for a while after getting my first "grown up" digital camera because I was busy learning how to apply other basic photographic principals. 

Vortex, 15mm, f/8, 2.1 sec, iso 200
One day sometime before my partner and I's trip to Disney, I told myself "Self, you are gong to learn how to use bulb mode" and pulled up the EM5's user manual. As confusing and useless as that thing sometimes is, I did learn that I had to be in manual mode in order to access it (I am pretty sure now, all cameras are like this). Once if figured how to engage it I played with it for some time that day with no real results besides blurry pictures and kinda forgot about it. It wasn't until while on the road to from Miami to Orlando, I took my first long exposure shot at night. I am going to spare you with the streaky car lights photo because that has been done and done again (see one of my "overdone" examples here), but I was instantly hooked.

Pentagon, 50mm, f/1.8, 3.3 sec, iso200
Some readers may think all of this is a bunch of crap because I had only minimal control over the composition... but thats fine, photography is subjective and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Personally, I think being creative and having fun is the most important thing. If you do enjoy this type of abstract work and are interested in creating your own I would suggest you visit an amusement park. They have ALL SORTS OF LIGHTS!!! Everywhere you turn there is something neon and flashing at you. Moving cars are also another great way to get this effect. Disney was the perfect environment to experiment and some shots were taken LITERALLY running from one ride to the next.

Don't go chasing waterfalls, 15mm f/8, iso 200
For a less abstract take on this subject matter see EXOGRAM's flickr. He has created some very elegant nighttime shots that I am a big fan of. Finally, thanks for checking out my blog and reading all of this!!

-Sam D.


Dumbo, 50mm, f/1.8, 3.3 sec, iso 200
Space Mountain, 15mm, f/8, 1/10*, iso 200 
Bass fiend, 15mm, f/8, 1.8 sec, iso200 
Confetti, 15mm, f/8, 5sec, iso200 
* for "Space Mountain" the shutter speed I don't think qualifies as a long exposure, but is below the recommended 1/effective focal length which in this case would have been 1/30 shutter speed.  
Sam Dorado