Have you ever thought about how to get a nighttime shot of the city with intense, fiery light paths? Well then read on my friends! This blog post is for those who want to understand how to shoot long exposure shots in the basics, as well as those of you who’ve joined EYExplore’s Tokyo By Night Photo Adventure and also wish to recap the settings and techniques you already learned.
The camera setting allows you to control the length of time the shutter stays open, and therefore how much light comes into the camera. The secondary impact of the shutter time is motion blur. The longer the camera, the more motion blur you can get.
With the basics out of the way, let us move on into the settings we desire to get a typical night time long exposure shot in the city. Our goal is to keep our shutter open for as long as possible in order to allow the traffic to leave fine long trails of light in our photograph. Let us go with a normal shutter speed for this purpose: 4 seconds. This means the shutter stays open for 4 minutes to catch light, which can be quite a long time. If we don’t believe our other 2 settings carefully, then we will likely be left with an overexposed picture. In most shots on our photograph experience in Tokyo, this means we will need to produce the aperture smaller and lessen the ISO.
A good aperture setting for this shot could be f/11 (remember–a bigger aperture number usually means a smaller aperture). At this time, we have reduced the quantity of light coming to the camera substantially. The secondary impact is that we have a wide selection of Field, meaning things have been in focus.


Next, we need to think about our ISO setting. We are trying to compensate for the large amount of light coming from throughout our 4 minute exposure, so we need to keep the ISO quite low. Most cameras these days may do 100 ISO in the bottom. Going with the cheapest ISO also has the extra benefit of reducing noise / grain in the photo.
So, let’s watch the configurations for a typical night long exposure photograph: 4 minute shutter, aperture f/11, and ISO 100. And that’s it! From that point you may adjust the aperture a bit (say between f/8 and f/16) and work on the shutter time, anywhere from 1 second to 15 seconds depending on how much light is in the scene. I’d gloss over a few details, so in the future, I will go into more detail and cover some advance techniques.