Long exposure creates stunning and somewhat surreal images. It smooths out a waterfall or water fountain, draws a trail of a light or even it can make people or cars disappear! This probably would be one of the things that iPhone can’t match up with DSLR since smartphone camera don’t have actual “shutter”. Is it really so? Since iPhone Xs is now capable of full 1-second exposure and it has like built-in automatic photoshop inside already, I can create pretty awesome looking long exposure-looking shots.
I have been looking for a few options to make a great long exposure photo with iPhone. So I have tested 4 different ways to shoot a long exposure photo with iPhone. Here in this part 1 will show the easiest way, the Live Photos with the built-in long exposure effect. Later I will cover three other camera apps to so this trick; ProCam 6, Slow Shutter Cam and Lightroom CC.
These are 4 ways to take an interesting long exposure photo you can easily try with your iPhone. But I want to clarify that all of these methods are not exactly a long exposure in sense of a long shutter speed you can select with a traditional camera. It is more likely a long exposure effect mimicking the effect of long shutter speed. All other camera apps that can do similar effects are all digitally modified effects since there are no moving parts to regulate the length of exposure in a mobile camera. In fact, mobile photography is a computational anyway.
By the way, don’t forget to use a tripod if you have one around or secure the camera in a stable place. I used a tripod with flexible legs and strapped tight on a heavy bench to shoot the sample shots. I carried this tripod with me all the time and it works in the most situation where I would need a tripod. Also enable self-timer when you use this feature except for the Slow Shutter, which already set for self-timer in default.
Without third-party apps
First up, the Live Photos for a long exposure. This would be the most known way to take a long exposure photo for iPhone users since iOS 11 when Apple added this feature. Just open up Camera app then make sure the Live Photos option is on, then take shots. Make sure to use a tripod or something that will keep your camera dead still. Also, use self-timer to avoid any shakes you will make when the button was touched. If you have any remote or even Apple Watch, you can remotely execute the shots without shaking the phone. Once you are done taking a shot, open up the photo you just took and swipe up then it will it will give you 4 effect options which are only available for the Live Photos. Scroll right and pick “Long Exposure”. That’s it. Super simple.
Basically, the Live Photos is a very short video recording. I believe it records 1.5 seconds before and 1.5 seconds after the white circle shutter button is tapped. I could say this would be equivalent of 3-second exposure but not sure how this effect is generated inside iPhone. Here is the result. Oh, one more thing, you know that you can actually edit this “3-second video” to make it short by tapping “Edit” button. I thought if I make it shorter then make a long exposure from it, I thought it would make a different result. But NO. regardless of a length of it, the result of the long exposure effect is exactly the same. It would be cool if different though.
Next in Part 2, I will start off with the ProCam 6, one of three third-party camera apps that are capable of a long exposure. Well, I should say a long exposure “effect”. Stay tuned!
Before you go…
iPhone creates an interesting motion blur effect but how does a long exposure shot look in a traditional camera anyway? Any such different characteristics? So I also took a picture of 1-second exposure with my Canon DSLR for a comparison. So this is how it looks. What do you think about the difference?
A quick and simple video of how to create a long exposure photo in iPhone.