Most photography uses extremely fast shutter speeds, only allowing light into the camera for a fraction of a second, but when longer exposures are used there can be some remarkable results. Static objects are revealed in heightened detail, while anything moving becomes a blur.

Long exposure photography can be turned to any number of subjects, but there are some areas where it produces particularly impressive images. At nighttime, long exposures can reveal things invisible to the naked eye, while moving lights become streaks and trails. Images of water have a strange mist-like appearance as the liquid motion is blurred.

The technique of ‘light painting’ is the use of a long exposure while moving a light through a dark scene, recording the light source’s path, or shining light onto objects in the frame to highlight them. This post collects 30 examples of amazing long exposure photographs to astonish and inspire.

Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park

The long exposure used to capture this waterfall at Jasper National Park in Alberta results in a creamy softness of the cascading water in contrast to stillness and clarity of the rocks.

By Alaskan Dude

 

Frozen Light in a Snow Weekend, Manzaneda

Photographer Paulo Brandão used an exposure of 124 seconds to allow the camera to capture the ghostly light playing upon snow and trees in a forest at night. The picture was taken at Orense in Galicia, in northwest Spain.

By Paulo Brandão

Bright Atlanta

This stunning image captures the bright lights of downtown Atlanta by night, with streams of traffic flowing past illuminated skyscrapers.

By Nrbelex

Crematorium

This gorgeous sunset over the Mediterranean on Andalusiaos Cost del Sol was captured on a Nikon D80 with an exposure of five seconds, creating the delicate fluff of the blurred waves and the deep colouration of the sky and clouds.

By SergioTudela

Zippo

A 15-second exposure was used in for image of a Zippo lighter being struck, picking out the metallic detail and the trails of sparking flint.

By Liber

Under the Milky Way

This beautiful image was achieved with a long exposure to capture the stars of the Milky Way and glowing atmospherics of the sky above Nevadaos Black Rock Desert.

By Jurvetson

Lightning on the Columbia River

During a thunder storm a long exposure may be used to capture the moment of a lightning strike, such as this awesome shot of an electrical storm over the Columbia River at Astoria in Oregon.

By Phatman

Bursting

This image captures a fireworkos intense explosion of colour and light, the trails of the flames shooting into the night sky and reflected in the water below.

By Jule Berlin

Blue Death

The photographer achieved this intriguing image by training an ultra violet light on a deathstalker scorpion and using a long exposure, revealing the detail of the creatureos armoured body.

By Furryscaly

Canfelip II

A long exposure shot of the night sky reveals the motion of the Earth by tracing the movement of stars, with the trails revolving around a point above the planetos axis. In this image of a rural ruin, we also see the bright orange ambient light illuminating the atmosphere that would be otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

By Aitor Escauriaza

The Wizard

This magical-looking self-portrait was captured with an eight-second exposure. The flash was placed inside a spherical glass lampshade, and after it fired the photographed moved in front of the camera and painted light on his face with a torch, creating the ghostly blur to the right of the image.

By Sean McGrath

You Will Never Forget

The long exposure used for this image emphasises the gaudy neon colours in New Yorkos Times Square, and the blurred motion of traffic and people in the bustling street.

By Josh Liba

Brooklyn Bridge

This is another photograph of New York, this time of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the lights of the streaming traffic warmly illuminating the heavily riveted girders.

By Laverrue

Travelling Stars

This brilliant shot shows the motion of the stars in the sky above Nepal over a period of one hour and 15 minutes.

By TheDreamSky

Tight spin

Setting a long exposure and then tossing and spinning the camera with the shutter open produced this amazing photograph. The trails of light create a spectacular form of geometric abstraction.

By Aaron Wagner

Capsalou

The motion of surf at the wateros edge becomes almost smoke-like in this beautiful photograph of the Costa Daurada at Salou in Catalonia.

By Aitor Escauriaza

I Hate Rainbows! It’s a Curse!

This impressive piece of light painting was made by leaving the shutter open and then tracing an ark with a torch, and then popping the flash to reveal the modelos features.

By Lomo-Cam

Swing +3

Light and motion are great subject material for long exposure photography, so fair ground rides offer plenty of potential. This image was captured using an eight second exposure, with the rides becoming discs of solid-looking light.

By Auburnxc

City at Night

The streets of Sao Paulo have the appearance of burning light below the solid forms of tower blocks in this fantastic image.

By Szeretlek_Ma

The Top

Another image where fun fair rides become wheels of bright light, with ghostly people moving through the crowds during the Queenos Day celebrations in Amsterdam.

By Pear Biter

Lovers Outlined and Luminated

This explosion of light and colour was made by outling the models with rainbow sparklers, with visually electrifying results.

By Lomo-Cam

Startrail

This image shows star trails in the sky above English woodland at Abinger Common. The stars were recorded for about an hour and a half, and the trees and bushes were painted in with torchlight. The white streaks in the lower part of the sky are the paths of passing aeroplanes.

By Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel

Chrystler et al.

This magnificently detailed long exposure cityscape captures the bright lights of Manhattan, with the sparkling Art Deco shape off the Chrystler Building glowing brightly in the middle of the image.

By Kennymatic

A36

The white headlights and red rear lights of traffic travelling on a motorway through Franche-ComtȦ in eastern France emphasise this compositionos dynamic perspective.

By ComputerHotline

Water Garden Steps

The ethereal, misty quality of the flowing water, the subtly contrasting orange and blue tones on the stone gardenos forms, and the glowing warmth of the plunge pool all combine to create a peaceful, tranquil ambience to this image.

By Burningphotography

Vancouver West End

In this image, a 15-second exposure revealed the paths of cars on the streets, while a slightly fish-eyed lens emphasises the lines of perspective, all creating a pleasing sense of depth.

By Stewart

Light Writing

A superbly executed piece of light painting across a lakeside veranda and the subtle evening colours make this image a truly sublime piece of long exposure photography.

By Cordey

The House

The eerie shapes of an old house and leafless trees are set against the creamy texture and warm tonality of an evening sky in this photograph. The house was built in 1903, in Summerland, British Columbia.

By Bulliver

Swanson Creek

Dappled in morning light, the motion of a stream becomes a misty blur as it cascades over boulders in the Californian woodland of Swanson Creek.

By The_Tahoe Guy

Light Painting

To achieve this breathtaking piece of light painting a lump of burning super fine wire wool was spun and recorded with a long exposure, another incredible example of this type of photography.

By ThoreauDown