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Chapter 3. Mastering Camera Controls >  Other Kinds of Exposures

Other Kinds of Exposures

You might have even more exposure options available with your digital camera. Among your choices:

  • Bulb/long exposure. Long exposures are anything longer than 1/8th second; many cameras can produce exposures of several seconds automatically. When the exposure exceeds one full second, and is created by holding down the shutter button manually, it becomes a bulb exposure (so called because the photographer used an air bulb that was squeezed to hold the shutter open). In either case, you’ll want to have the camera mounted on a tripod, because hand-holding a camera for such a long exposure will invariably produce blur from camera shake. Figure 3.19 shows a long exposure. Traditionally, a bulb exposure is one that lasts as long as the shutter release button is pressed; when you release the button, the exposure ends.

    Figure 3.19. A longer than normal exposure with the camera on a tripod created this photo in which the rock star is relatively sharp, but his fast-moving fingers are blurry.

  • Time exposure. This setting is used to produce even longer exposures, as the shutter remains open even after the shutter button is released. You must press the button again (some cameras can also be activated/deactivated using a cable or electronic release or even a remote control) to stop the exposure.

  • Self-timer. With this option, the camera waits a few seconds before taking the picture, usually with a flashing light that lets you know just before the exposure is made. Self-timers have several uses. The most obvious is that a self-timed picture taken with the camera on a tripod or other support gives the photographer enough time to rush into a photo, say, for a group shot or self-portrait. However, the self-timer is a great way of triggering the camera for longer exposures when you don’t want to risk shaking it by pressing the shutter release. Forget to bring along your tripod, but still want to take a close-up picture with a precise focus setting? Set your digital camera to the self-timer function, then put the camera on any reasonably steady support, such as a fence post or a rock. When you’re ready to take the picture, press the shutter release. The camera might rock back and forth for a second or two, but it will settle back to its original position before the self-timer activates the shutter.


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