Long Exposure Photography

Why do Many Landscape and Cityscape photographers go for Long exposure?

Dubai canal b&w

To answer this question, I would like you first to see the two images below and find out the difference between both and your reaction toward each one of them.

I believe the long exposure gives you such kind of feeling you get when you see a fine art picture or paint whereas the other image could be captured by any cell phone with just a good composition.

As an artist, you always seek the beauty in your photography, and that’s why most of landscape and cityscape photographers use the long exposure technique to gain such result while no one else could create that unless he knows this technique. Look at the stretchy clouds and the silky water, have you noticed the vehicles have been disappeared? This is the magic of long exposure photography.

The above photos show how long exposure creates a beautiful motion effect in the waterfalls.

Long Exposure in Black and White

When you don’t have exciting colors in the sky, go for Black& White.

I have taken the above two images at the Dubai Canal on the bridge and while walking around, I found the below beautiful composition with the leading line to the bridge which as you notice, the long exposure created with the bridge reflection in the water a shape like an eye containing most of the back buildings within.

How to photograph Long exposure?

To understand how, you need to be aware of the many elements involved in long exposure photography. These elements are: Equipment, settings, Timing, configuration and many which we are going to explore in a bit high level of details as the topic is vast, but by following the steps, you can start your journey.


1. Tripod,

Long exposure practically means that you are going to open the shutter for a long time than you usually do. Thus, you need to have a strong, steady tripod in the first place.

2. ND Filters( Natural Density filter)

Practically, the cameras are not designed for long exposure, by keeping the shutter opened for a long time, the volume of the light that hits the sensor will be massive, and the picture will be by no doubt overexposed. That’s why the ND filter, in this case, comes to help to block the light and enable us to open the shutter for a longer time.

ND filters, Filter’s holder, adaptor rings and hardbag to carry and protect the filters.

But, you need to be careful while buying the filters, you need to get a good brand and the holder to be comfortable and practical in use. There are many kinds of filters come with the gasket at their edges to prevent the light from affecting your exposure” Lee has this gasket” I, myself use Lee filters and NISI. Both are closed to each other in term of quality and price. But to me, I have replaced the Lee holder with NISI as NISI is more straightforward and practical in use from my perspective.

Filter with a gasket to prevent the light leaks

3. Gaffer tape.

It is a tape used by professional photographers and available online. This tape is dark enough to prevent light leaks as you should use it to cover all the possible area could cause light leaks meanwhile it is clean and doesn’t leave any gum behind when you remove it.

4. Shutter Release Cable:

As you are going to shot a long shutter based photo and you have already fixed your camera on top of a steady tripod as mentioned earlier, you don’t need to shake your camera by pressing the shutter release button yourself especially if you know that you need to keep pushing for more than 1second to minutes. This remote will keep your camera static.

The Moment Of Truth: How to shot for long exposure?

Now you have your camera set on the steady tripod, attached the shutter release cable remote, fixed the filter’s holder on the lens, and you are ready to go.

Before you attach the filter you need to get a proper shot with proper exposure.

  1. First of all, don’t forget to get the best composition you can because it is essential to plan your shot as it will be a long exposure. Your shot has to have a purpose in your head in advance.
  2. Turn lens stabilizer off in your camera( your camera is fixed on the tripod, you don’t need the stabilizer)
  3. Adjust the focus preferably to be manual. Meant, you need to turn off the autofocus to avoid keeping the camera trying to adjust the focus after attaching the filter.
  4. Chose the right F stop first, my favorite f stop is between f8 and f16. This does give me the sharpness I need and great depth of field.
  5. Adjust the relative shutter speed accordingly to give you the right exposure.
  6. Don’t forget (the lower the iso, the lower the grains/ noise and the sharp is the photo. It is preferred to be 100 or lower).
  7. Once you have the right exposure, shot the first image. this image will be your starting point.
  8. Now it is the turn of the filter’s job. Use the Bulb Mode to control the shutter speed. (this mode is beyond the 30 seconds shutter time) Now you need some math to calculate the number of stops you need to add to the shutter time to compensate for the missing light. To make understandable, if your shutter speed on the photo you have taken in 7 1/125″ and you intend to use 3 stop ND filter that means you need to open your shutter further by 3 stops meant your shutter should be 1/15″ and if the filter is 6stops, you should lower the shutter by 6stops to be 1/2″. However, there are many apps for exposure calculation in the Apple store and Android that gives you a quick estimate. No need to memorize any configuration, but you got the idea.
  9. Once the Shutter speed is set, shoot your first photo with the filter, I take more than one shot with the same exposure and then start to play around the f stops and the ISO. This will help you during the post-processing.

What about the Mirror Up technique?

Sometimes photographers use this feature to avoid the blurring caused by the camera shake due to the movement of the mirror up and down while pressing the shutter button. Such functionality is usually followed when there is a telephoto lens even with a heavy, steady tripod.

I don’t remember how many times I have used it. only once or twice because the blurry in the picture is hard to be noticed. However, it is your choice.

Mistakes you should avoid!

  1. light leaks: To prevent the light leaks like what you see in the below photo, you need to block all the light would reach to the sensors other than the light trough the lens/ the filter so you need to check if the filter has no casket, you need to cover the space between the filter and the lens by gaffer tape. Another area where you expect to get light leaks is the camera viewfinder, and there is always a piece of rubber either built-in or mobile to cover the viewfinder for this purpose. Make sure to have it block the viewfinder or else use the gaffer tape if you missed it.

2. Dust, dirt on the lens or the filter, always keep your equipment clean as possible as you can. A piece of soft fabric will be your rescue in this mission. Before you shoot, make sure that all the glasses are clean and shining.

Finally, feel free to play around the F value and the ISO, you can make a bracket of three pictures and blend them and examine them. It may end up with something new primarily if you use luminosity mask technique to get the High Dynamic Range.

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Question! In your opinion, Is the night photography long exposure?

You can also check (Master The Composition )

Master the Composition (Part 3)

Pattern, Textures, Anchor points and the Rule of Odds.


It is just a repetition of lines, shapes curved, etc…. something repeated in a very systematic sequence to create a sort of graphic image. You will find such a pattern in architecture, with nature, and even people sometimes create some kinds of patterns.



Anchor point

In the landscape, it is essential to create a balance in the scene. One of these ways of creating such balance is the anchor points. Anchor point also keeps the viewer’s eye within the frame it takes the eye back and forth within the frame. Once it goes to the main object, it takes the eye back to the beginning of the photo. Meant to the anchor point.

Waterfall Nepal
IIn the above photo, the waterfalls lead the viewer eye to the mountain at the back but the rock at the bottom grab the eye back to the start.
UAE sunrise Fujairah
IIn the above photo, you see the horizon lead to the island. Also, the slow-motion in the water takes the viewer eye to the island too, but the rock at the bottom of the scene takes the eye back to the beginning.

Rule of odds

The Rule of Odds is based on framing your subjects in an odd number. You may have the object surrounded by to other objects. It has been proven that the eye gets comfortable with the odd number of objects.

It is not necessary to have the odd number of objects like 3 or 5, but sometimes you may have 4 or 6 number of objects, but they grouped to have an odd number of groups. The two photos show the difference between the four subjects and the three subjects as a group.

My advice always to everyone is to take photos as much as you can before, even going through these kinds of rules or tools. By doing so, you will train your eye to see and feel the beauty. Afterward, you learn those tools. Once you master them, you can break them. But it makes a huge difference when you break the tools that you know.

See Part Two


Master the Composition (Part 2)

In part 1 we talked about the tools of the composition and how to get the best frame using these tools. we talked only about the rule of third.

In this part we are going to talk about:

Framing, Layers, Leading lines


It is about how to create a frame like the above trying to surround the interesting subject with a frame to narrow the eye to the center of the s


Don’t you think that Layers create depth in the scene? the difference in the color tones and their levels create a feeling like it is a 3D photo. you feel that you are inside the picture

Leading lines


In the above black and white image, the curve creates a nice leading line to the center of the scene and then two other curves create somehow an eye surrounding the buildings and their reflection.

Check the above picture, you will find the edges of the lake act as curves leading your eyes to the end of the scene.

Diagonal lines

Straight Lines

In the above picture, the lines starting with a wide distance and it became narrow the more you go into the scene give you the feeling of the depth due the perspective created by these leading lines. these leading straight lines take your eyes to the end of the photo.

See you in Part 3

Master the Composition (Part 1)

How important is the Composition?

I had a discussion with a friend of mine who is not a photographer when he asked me, why does the image taken by a photographer looks better compared to the one captured by non-photographer?and that clicked something in my mind, it is about the quality of the picture, but what is the quality of the picture?. and how could we produce a high quality image? Maybe the equipment is the key? or the skills of the photographer or the timing or maybe the quality of the light, the direction of the light. in reality, all of the above have an impact on the quality of the picture but what about the composition? let’s talk about the composition in more details and find out if it is important to the image or not.you may believe as I do, that the good composition makes the eye, any eye comfortable with the image. that is the most important part. then you can talk about the rest of the elements what create the image. in order to understand the composition, we need to know something about what they like to call it rules. many photographers and I would like to call them tools or guidelines cause you can break them later but my advice is to master them first! 

In this series, I will try to cover as many as I can,

  • Rule of Third
  • Curves
  • Framing
  • Layers
  • Lines
  • Shapes
  • Patterns
  • Perspective
  • Texture
  • Anchor point
  • Rule of Odd

Rule of Third

The above picture has been taken in 2014 from Dubai Marina capturing the iconic landmarks (Borg El Arab and Burj Khalifa) from the seaside. you will find 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines dividing the photo into 3 horizontal sections, 3 vertical sections, and 4 strong points. As per the rule of thirds, you should place your subject in one of these intersections where the vertical lines cross the horizontal ones. but when you photograph moving the subject or human or even birds or animals, you need to consider their moving direction or where they are looking at as below,

This picture has been taken in Georgia in 2016 in one of the hotels there. the statue if you notice look at the right side. so that is better to keep the space in front of him not behind him. Notice that keeping space in front of the subject where it is direction seems to be, help to improve the composition.

Another example of the rule of thirds and the direction is in the above image which is actually has been taken by mobile phone(The same concepts apply to mobile photography). It doesn’t mean that you cannot break such a rule. sure you can. however, let’s stick to what we agreed on to master them all first and then go break them. at least you know what you break ūüėČ
Next time will talk about some other tools of the composition See you then. Have a nice photography time!

See you in Part 2

How to create a Panorama in 3 steps using Lightroom.

Cairo Panorama Sunset

The Photo has been taken from The Cairo Tower (Arabic: ō®ōĪō¨ ōßŔĄŔāōßŔáōĪō©‚Äé, Borg Al-QńĀhira) which is a free-standing concrete tower in CairoEgypt. At 187 m (614 ft), it has been the tallest structure in Egypt and North Africa for about 50 years. It was the tallest structure in Africa for ten years until 1971, when it was surpassed by Hillbrow Tower in South Africa.(Wikipedia)

The photo consist of 5 Portrait photos. I have tried with the security to allow me using the tripod as I wanted to take a long exposure sunset but they justified their rejection cause of the limited space at the top of the tower which was true. it was a bit crowded where it will be a challenge to use the tripod for long time. Anyhow, I decided to capture the whole sunset scene using the panorama technic, I shot 5 photos with around 20%  overlap in order to cover all the information, then blended them together in Lightroom. 

just right click and select :-> photo merge -> Panorama.

Then, you will get this screen 

Just push the boundary wrap slider to be 100

And Finally, we obtain the below result.

After merging the five photos and obtain the above final image, export it to the photoshop and complete the post-processing. 

Have a nice photography time!

See also (Master the composition)

Photography and lifestyle


The Photography Business Lifestyle

The photography business is actually a lifestyle business. You will live a life through photography that will make you feel like a brand new person because you have time to live the life you want. You will find that there are many photography online business models, and you might want to start a lifestyle business that allows you to do some things outside of your normal job that still involve photography. Photography is a powerful profession, and it will help you be as creative as you want while also helping people.

1. The Photography Online Business Models

The photography online business models are those that allow you to advertise yourself on your website and through social media, helps you make appointments with clients online, and saves money for the client. You can do all your editing using digital software, and the lifestyle business that you have created allows you to create a work space in your home that only includes your computer or your photography equipment.

2. The Lifestyle Business Option

The lifestyle business option is one that allows you to work for n

o one but yourself. You can decide who you will work with, and you have creative freedom because you do not have a boss. You can use a website and social media to show off the work that you have done, and you will find that the lifestyle business gives you time to think and be with your family. You set your hours, and you can fit all your clients into the times that you have chosen. This also means that you can save money on the business because you can decide how to put together all your services.

3. The Creativity Options

The photography online business models are very powerful because they provide you with the chance to be as creative as you want. You might want to talk to the people that you work with on special ideas that they have, and you also must ask these people if they have any special requests. These customers will allow you to show off how creative you are, and photography online business models help you market in inexpensive ways.

4. Social Media

Social media is the place where you can advertise your business, and you can do all this from your mobile device. You do not have to buy ads that cost too much money, and you are not required to make your website look like it came from a large corporation. You should populate your social media feeds with pictures that you have taken with your clients. You want people to see that you have the skills to make them look great, and you might have many people follow you on social media before you start working with them. They will get used to seeing your pictures, and they will call on you when they need help with pictures.

5. Online Order Systems

The photography online business models include online ordering. This means that you can create a place where people buy prints of your own work. You could sell prints from special events to people who attended the event, or you could take artistic photos that you sell as prints. You might have t-shirts made, swag, and other items that people will buy. You can market yourself as a place to buy creatively, and you can run all of this out of your house because there are other companies that will actually fulfill most of these orders for you.

6. You Have Extra Time

You have extra time to live your life because you are making more money every day. You can work with people on big projects because you can set aside time for them, and you must plan for time with your family. You can decide when to go on vacation, and you can get your own health insurance for a good price in the modern market. There are many people who will want to have their schedule set up around the photos they take, and you can take some time to scout locations, take pictures pro bono for your friends, and to make time for social gatherings.

7. Conclusion

The best part of this lifestyle of creativity is that you are in complete control of what you are doing. You can take pictures for a living, and you can enjoy the lifestyle more because you can set up time to do everything you want to do. You can make more money online, and you get to set your schedule. Someone who wants to have the photography business set up online will find that they can completely change their life, change how they interact with their family, and allow for a high level of creativity. This is the best thing that you can do when you love taking pictures.