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5 Tips for Better Mobile Long Exposure Nature Photography

Our Moment Pro Camera App just got sexier. Introducing Slow Shutter, a new king of long exposure. Set your shot, start your blur, and post that fire.

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Long Exposure Nature Photography

5 Tips for Better Mobile Photos

Our Moment Pro Camera App just got upgraded. Introducing “Slow Shutter”, a new kind of long exposure. Set your shot, start your blur (trails or motion), and post that fire.

  • "Motion Blur" to smooth out movement in your shots.
  • "Light Trails" to turn lights into colorful streaks.
  • "Long Exposure" shots saved as Live Photos.

No matter if you’re an experienced nature photographer with a keen act for long exposure techniques, you know that there is still a ton to consider before approaching the idea of slow shutter landscape photography. The following five tips are some things that we’ve learned along the way to introduce our newest Moment Pro Camera App feature: "slow shutter". Get ready, get stoked. Take advantage of these five tips and apply them to your own work.

As always, be sure to tag us on Instagram and show off your latest skill sets with long exposure by hashtagging #ShotOnMoment or #MomentCamera.

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Smooth, milky waters.

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Use Filters For Maximum Effect

Many must-have photography filters, such as polarizers and strong neutral density (ND) filters, can produce effects that are time-consuming or even impossible to replicate digitally. Not only can they protect your lens and enhance a wide range of colors, but they’re known for helping ensure accurate exposures to your images and add overall impact to your photos and videos.

UV and ND filters are a must-have for any photographer, mobile or not. UV filters are most commonly used to protect the front of your lens. A first line of defense against scratches, rain, dirt and dust. For this reason, most photographers leave it attached to the lens all the time. But the filter also plays an important role in filtering through UV Haze. Not a huge problem when you are taking pictures at sea-level, but as you hike into higher altitudes the filter definitely helps cut through the haze to increase contrast and improve color. Neutral density (ND) filters play an important role for filmmakers and photographers because they allow you to precisely control the amount of light passing through the lens for greater creative control over exposure. For filmmakers, this means shutter speeds that match your frame-rate while maintaining the depth-of-field you want. For photographers, it means you can reach longer exposures or achieve a shallow depth-of-field in bright sunlight.

Check out our favorite filters in our shop and see which ones best suits your needs here.

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Smooth and uninterrupted.

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Look at your scene before reaching for the camera.

When you arrive at your final location, our first instinct is to grab our camera and start shooting. However, take a moment to consider your scene before juggling the math, exposure times, the cluster of tripods, and the numerous filters. Take your time setting up the exact framing and dive deep into what your focal point will be. Don’t become too fixated on getting the water perfectly smooth, instead — focus on the proper framing of the water to produce a stark contrast and make the scene visibly exciting.

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Bold greens and creamy waters.

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Maximize Shooting with Morning and Evening Light

Prioritize your shooting time by utilizing morning or evening light. The gorgeous vibrant golden hour provides a warm glow, whereas the blue hour suggests cooled temperatures and ominous, moody lighting techniques. Either will provide a magnificent addition to your imagery. Light can make or break your photography, especially the way it might hit your subject matter (i.e., the brightness levels on the water droplets in a waterfall). We suggest using an ND filter for such conditions. Although it’s theoretically possible to capture stunning long exposure photography during midday light, it’s generally not the best time to shoot and we wouldn’t recommend it.

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Utilize the Rule of Thirds

Nature photography heavily relies on the rule of thirds to establish an excellent composition.

The rule of thirds is a standard tool to help improve photography. Merely divide the frame into nine separate squares that are three horizontal and three vertical containers. Many phone manufacturers have included this tool as a display in Live Mode, but can easily be adjusted if turned off. Check your phone's manual to see how to turn on this feature.

The idea of this rule is to place one or more of the essential subjects of your scene along the lines of intersection of the lines within your frame. Unless you want to mimic Wes Anderson's aesthetic of placing your item in the middle, placing it just off center will more often than not lead to a more attractive composition.

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A mountain stream running through an abandoned silver mine

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Near blue hour.

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Enhance The Scene By Editing

When it boils down to post-production processing long exposure nature photography, we recommend focusing on three different areas of the image: 1.) color cast by the ND filter, 2.) the removal of any dust spots, and 3.) straightening the horizon. All three are made readily available for adjusting in any mobile or desktop application, including VSCO or Lightroom. Bring up the saturation, take the highlights down, and increase the sharpness ever so slightly to maximize the results.

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Happy Shooting!

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