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Help with long exposure shots

edited April 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
I have read the part in manual about long exposures, but I just can't figure out how to take these shots. I want to take my daughters senior pictures and these are the shots I want to take. I'm a beginner, so please explain things thoroughly. I don't know much at all about my new camera yet. Thank you so much!


  • edited April 2016
    If you want to take a shot up to 30 seconds, you can do that either with shutter priority or manual mode. Set the shutter speed to what you want, and either calculate aperture and ISO, or let the camera do it with S priority and auto ISO. You cannot get slow shutter speeds in the automatic and scenic modes. There is a limit to how slow you can get in normal light.

    If you want longer shutter speeds in ordinary light (for instance, to blur moving water in a background), you must use the lowest ISO possible, the smallest aperture possible (looking out for diffraction loss with apertures smaller than f/16 or so - remember with aperture numbers, larger number = smaller aperture, less light), and if you still can't get the speed low enough, you'll need a neutral density filter on the lens to darken it.

    If you want to take shots longer than 30 seconds, it's very difficult without getting the infrared remote (which is very inexpensive).

    With the camera alone, the "bulb" shutter setting holds the shutter open as long as you press the button, which makes it very difficult to hold steady even on a tripod. With the IR remote, when you put it on "bulb" the shutter opens on the first press of the button, and stays open until the second - a true time exposure. This is the only way to implement it on the D3200.

    With the VR kit lens working correctly, if you're lucky you can hand hold down to about 1/4 second, though that depends also on focal length and personal ability. The slower you go, the less likely a shot is to be sharp, and when you approach the limit, you'll get more misses. Practice a lot, and shoot and erase prodigally. Any slower than that you will need a tripod, and it will help either to use the self timer or the remote shutter release too. It's almost always easier to hold steady with the viewfinder than it is with Live View.

    I am not sure what need you would have to make shots longer than 30 seconds for a senior picture. If a person is in the shot, it will be very hard to hold steady for that long. If you want to capture movement, of course, that's something else again.

    If you want to capture movement and get a sharp image at the same time, study up on slow sync and rear curtain flash. It's tricky to get right, but interesting effects can be had if you do. You can find examples of this on Google.

    Make sure when consulting the manual that you download the PDF file from the CD or the Nikon website, as the printed manual is incomplete.
  • edited January 2017
    Another consideration to add to those given by @Bruto. I have a fellow photojournalist friend named Ron Tarver who some time ago took a trip to India. He employed a guide, and upon arriving at the Taj Mahal, realized that getting a shot of it alone was going to be impossible. He asked his guide if there was any time it was void of tourists, and was dismayed to find out that it is such a popular attraction, that it is always open to the public so, here's what he did.
    Putting a small hole in his lens cover, he proceeded to do a very long exposure; two hours to be precise. When he got the photo (used film and a locking shutter release) back from processing, there was no-one in the photo.
    His guide thought he was magic.
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