My tips when it comes to taking pictures with Long Exposure:
1) Take Many Shots
I will usually take a variety of shots with different shutter speeds until I find the speed that works the best with the picture in front of me.
The above shot was taken at 1/4 sec. And for the entire night this was the shutter speed that worked with my camera and the lighting for that evening.
2) Have a TRIPOD
For any night shot, and any shot specifically designed with long exposure, a TRIPOD is a must. In Los Angeles, there are certain areas of the city that do not allow tripods, so before you go out, always research the vicinity to make sure it’s okay. Otherwise just blame dumb, and wrap up the tripod and carry it with you if security does tell you to put it away.
3) When it comes to traffic, there are no tips, but to keep shooting!
Getting that perfect traffic shot usually comes from taking many, many pictures. You can have the perfect set up and a few of those pictures will definitely come out, but the key is to take many from a variety of angles.
The shot above was taken with a Canon Powershot SX10is. It is a Point and Shoot camera, so yes, you can still do long exposures with a camera that isn’t SLR, however, the quality of the shot isn’t nearly as clear, as you can see. For me, this shot would have better if the buildings in the background would have been brighter, and even the bridge in front.
4) Observe your Surroundings
As the photographer you are control of the picture you put out. Always be aware of your surroundings, and what could make the best possible shot. Do not be afraid to do try new things, or to push yourself to new possibilities. That is how you continue to grow as a photographer. Keep learning, keep looking at scenes differently.
5) Have Fun with It
Some of the best photographers are those that see a group of people, think of a way to pose them then take the shot. When it comes to Long Exposure, take advantage of the neon lights around you. Take advantage of people walking by, or even the cars passing by. Those make for some fun shots. So, have fun with it, play with your camera, and laugh along the way.
Just a few tips when it comes to Long Exposure. I’m no expert, but I’m continuing to learn my way behind a camera =)