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Long Exposure in Landscape Photography

by Yan Zhang

Long exposure is one of the primary techniques that landscape photographers often apply in their practice. There are various scenarios for long exposure photography: creating silky smooth water surface for seascape or lake view shoots, making a moody sky with dramatic cloud movement, or blurring flowers or trees in the wind for getting a dreamy effect. 

On the other hand, there are some scenarios where a long exposure is the only option to make a decent shot.  For instance when we photograph waterfalls, we rarely use a fast shutter speed; or when we take star trail pictures, we unavoidably have to open our camera shutter for a sufficient long time.


“Star Trails of Namibia” by Karen Deakin

Under a low light condition, we usually don’t need to place a neutral density (ND) filter in front of the lens to reduce the light for a long exposure, but other than that, ND filter is most essential for achieving a long exposure effect, although sometimes graduated ND or polariser filters can be used to reduce the light as well as to handle difficult light conditions.

In recent years, more photographers stopped using ND filters to take long exposure photographs. Instead, they often take a large number of ordinary shots with the same composition, and then merge these shots into one in Photoshop, so that the resulting image virtually has a long exposure accumulating all those individual shots’ exposure times together. 

There are quite a lot of tutorials available online about how to take long exposure landscape photographs. But I believe that 1X is an excellent place for people to get inspired and learn all kinds of advanced photography techniques.

In the following gallery, I selected 15  1X long exposure landscape images. I think each of these images is very unique – it not only exhibits the photographer’s personal aesthetic style, but also demonstrates the creativity and advanced techniques in long exposure photography. I am sure these images will inspire our 1X audience and beyond.

Carrasqueira II” by Jesús M. Garcia


“Trollstigen” by Jiri Paur


“Heaven of Rocks” by Gunarto Song


“Reflection” by Miles Morgan


“Crests and Valleys” by José Antonio Pérez


“Skogafoss” by Jingshu Zhu


“Tiu Kelep” by Adhi Prayoga


“Waterfall of clouds” by Dominic Dähncke


“Rivers of Clouds at Moonlight” by Roberto Bertero


“Star Trails” by Edy Santosa


“The sea is emotion incarnate” by Yvette Depaepe


“The View from Above” by Joshua Zhang


“A Night at Kirkjufell” by Simon Roppel


“High tide” by Peter Svoboda, MQEP


Very beautiful work :)
thank you
Thank you! So nice....
Amazing images ! Great article !
Wonderful serie, this images are a marvel, thank Yan for this splendid article !!!
Beautiful gallery, congratulation to all photographers. Big thanks to Yan Zhang for this fine article. Cheers, Yvette