iPhone photography: How to take dreamy long exposure photos with your iPhone camera

Andrew Hoyle/PJDM

The iPhone 11 Professional’s triple digital camera array takes a number of the finest photos you will get from a telephone, and even the iPhone SE‘s single digital camera captures wonderful photos that belie its inexpensive value. However hidden inside these telephones, particularly ones launched after the iPhone 6, is a inventive trick that permits you to remodel your on a regular basis photos into dreamy lengthy publicity pictures.

An extended publicity {photograph} is any picture the place the shutter has been deliberately left open lengthy sufficient to blur the movement within the picture. Search for photos of waterfalls and you will undoubtedly see photos the place the raging torrent of water has been smoothed out into this otherworldly circulation — that is a protracted publicity picture. 

To take this type of picture with a DSLR digital camera, you often want a tripod to maintain the digital camera regular and a filter that blocks out mild. That is typically required as a result of leaving the shutter open for a second or extra can let in an excessive amount of mild that the picture turns into too vivid.


A typical picture taken with the iPhone 11 Professional (left) and the identical picture, with the lengthy publicity mode enabled (proper). 

Andrew Hoyle/PJDM

The iPhone makes use of a unique and way more crafty method, nonetheless, that does not require additional tools. It makes use of Reside Pictures, a function that turns a nonetheless picture into a brief animation by recording a number of seconds of video whenever you hearth the shutter. 

By analyzing which objects are shifting, the iPhone captures the motion and blurs it. It is also in a position to acknowledge what is not shifting (a rock or a wall, for instance) and makes an attempt to maintain these objects sharp and in focus. It is a good methodology as a result of it helps you to seize lengthy publicity photos in even vivid mid-day solar with out utilizing a tripod or filter. Take that, DSLRs. 

This is how one can get began.


The speeding water makes for a lovely blurred topic, whereas the rocks stay static and sharp.

Andrew Hoyle/PJDM

Know what makes a superb lengthy publicity shot

Not every little thing works as a protracted publicity picture. A detailed-up of a flower blowing within the breeze will simply grow to be a blurry mess, whereas an image of a static automotive will simply stay, nicely, static. 

What you want is a scene the place there are each static and shifting components. Waterfalls are frequent topics because the speeding water might be blurred whereas the rocks throughout will stay stable. Any physique of water, actually, can be a superb topic to experiment with. 


The usual shot (left) appears like several previous, forgettable snap from a Disney park. However a protracted publicity (proper) transforms it into an ethereal picture that basically reveals off the motion within the scene.

Andrew Hoyle/PJDM

It’s also possible to attempt busy metropolis streets (keep in mind your social distancing!). The lengthy publicity impact would preserve the buildings and roads sharp and glued within the picture, however the individuals strolling throughout might be blurred into ghostly figures, which might look atmospheric and dramatic. 

Activate Reside Pictures

Getting a protracted publicity picture requires the motion that is recorded in a Reside Picture, so it’s important that the mode is activated when taking pictures. It is situated within the high proper of the display within the digital camera (when held in portrait orientation) or the highest left (in panorama orientation). You will see an icon of two circles surrounded by a 3rd dotted circle. If there isn’t any line by means of it, then Reside Pictures is activated. If there is a line by means of it, faucet the icon and you will see the message “Reside” seem on-screen in just a little yellow field. 


Be certain this icon does not have a line by means of it.

Andrew Hoyle/PJDM

Hold regular

Though the iPhone does not require a tripod to get a superb lengthy publicity picture, you may get one of the best outcomes in case you preserve the telephone as regular as doable whereas it is taking the Reside picture. I counsel resting the telephone towards a wall or another fastened floor whereas taking pictures. If it’s important to maintain the telephone in your hand, I discover that tucking my elbows in towards my physique and holding my breath helps lower movement blur whereas taking the shot. 

It is a good suggestion to take a number of pictures too, hammering the shutter button when you maintain the place. This fashion you may enhance your possibilities of capturing at the least one picture that is secure sufficient to provide a lovely lengthy publicity.


Swipe up in your Reside Picture within the gallery and activate the ‘Lengthy Publicity’ impact.

Andrew Hoyle/PJDM

Create the lengthy publicity

When you captured your Reside Photos, it is time to remodel it into the precise lengthy publicity. Open the picture you have settled on in your gallery and swipe up. This may carry up a panel known as “Results” the place you’ll be able to loop the movement within the video into gifs. Swipe to the top of the consequences panel although and you will see one known as Lengthy Publicity. Faucet it. 

It will take a second or two, however you may shortly see how any movement in your shot has been blurred into the dreamy impact you are after. You’ll be able to then zoom in to verify that it is nonetheless good and sharp. Be at liberty to use the identical impact to others pictures you took of the identical scene, simply in case they labored out higher. 


I did not intend to make this shot a protracted publicity after I first took it, however as a result of it was a Reside Picture, I used to be in a position to return later and switch the lengthy publicity mode on.

Andrew Hoyle/PJDM

Verify your library

Earlier than you sprint out to search out your nearest waterfall, take a look by means of your library to see if you have already got photos that will work. The wonderful thing about utilizing the iPhone’s lengthy publicity device is that you simply need not use it when you’re taking pictures. You’ll be able to return and apply it to any lengthy publicity picture you have taken up till now. 

Maybe you visited Niagara falls or Havasu Falls in Arizona a number of years in the past and also you occurred to have Reside Pictures activated when taking your pictures. You’ll be able to swipe up and activate lengthy publicity on any of these pictures. You’ll be able to even go into your “Reside Pictures” album in your gallery to see all of the pictures you have obtained in your telephone that may be remodeled into lengthy exposures. My recommendation? Put a superb podcast on, settle into a snug chair and see what dreamy pictures you’ll be able to dig out of your library. 

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Andrew Hoyle