Long Exposure Photography Choices: Focus
I was shown a spot in Newark, New Jersey that I never knew existed.

Like with all things photography, there are decisions to make. In today’s long exposure photography choices article, I am going to talk about focus.

When you are framing for a long exposure photograph, it is important to find something that is not, will not, and does not move. The reason is because if you focus on an object that moves, then you might find the entire photograph to be blurred.

In the photograph above, taken at Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey – I had my lens focused on the church in the distance.

I did this because the light from sunset was hitting in nicely,and added a subtle glow that was perfect for the long exposure. Something worth noting is how to focus on a subject in an awkward spot when framing like that. You see, looking through the viewfinder my camera does not have a focus spot on the exact spot where the church was in my framing.

So instead of re-framing, focusing on the church and then re-framing again I used live view. Live view, at least in the Nikon cameras, has the ability to focus on any spot you see on the LCD. It’s a neat trick to help verify that the exact point you want in focus, truly is in focus.

You might be wondering why not just rely on my eye and manual focus. Well, typically I do manual focus. However, having that verification from the camera that I am on-point is a nice thing. Especially with my bad eyes.

To sum up this multi-tip:

  • Find something perfectly still to focus on
  • Use live view to help with focusing on any object in the scene

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great tips Scott, and a beautiful photo! I use Live View almost exclusively when my camera’s on the tripod, mainly for the reason you mention. I can pick a spot and focus. It also opens the mirror up so that it doesn’t have to do it after pressing the shutter!

    1. Hey Jim – definitely a useful tool! Double check your live view / mirror though because I know with Nikon’s the mirror drops and then reopens even if Live View is on while pushing the shutter button. That could be the same with Canon cameras – but I could be wrong too!

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