How to take long exposure photos on your iPhone

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Photo: Thomas Picka (Shutterstock)

Long-Exposure photography allows you to create truly stunning photos iIf you want to capture light trails, a starry sky or exaggerated movement in your photos. While your iPhone doesn’t give you the same long-exposure tools a DSLR would use, there are multiple ways to get a longexposure shot taken with the Camera app or with a third-party option.

Use the stock Camera app for long-exposure shots

The default Camera app on your iPhone has a few tricks up its sleeve, and long-exposure photography is one of them. For daytime shooting, iOS has a longexposure effectwhich, though not true a long-exposure image, works well (think portrait mode versus a real camera bokeh).

Until use the longexposure effect, you need to enable Live Photo in the camera app. To do this, open the Camera app and tap the circle icon in the top right corner. Live Photo is enabled when the icon is yellow. Now take a photo and then open it in the Photos app. Press Live button in the top left corner and select Long exposurewhich stitches together the various frames captured during the Live Photo to create a long-exposure effect.

Besides not being a true long exposure, this method is also a bit tedious. You don’t have the option to quickly view your photos and you have to go into the Photos app and process each photo individually.

If you want to capture trails of light or try your hand at astrophotography, you’ll need an iPhone that supports night mode. iPhone 11 and newer models (excluding iPhone SE) support this feature and it is automatically enabled in the Camera app in low light conditions.

However, to maximize night mode for long exposures, you’ll need to put your iPhone on a tripod or keep it on a stable surface. When iOS detects that your iPhone is perfectly still, the Night Mode switch will automatically show you an option to take long-distance shots.exposure shots up to 30 seconds, up from the usual 10 second maximum.

These photos may not be as good as those taken with a DSLR camera, but they are quite impressive for a phone camera.

Use third-party apps for a long timeexposure photos

Even in 2023, your iPhone’s stock Camera app doesn’t give you enough control over your photos. If you want granular control over everything, you should try a third-party camera app like Cam with slow shutter speed ($2), Ghost ($5), or Pro Cam 8 ($10).

Slow Shutter Cam is Hyper-aimed at long-exposure photography. If that’s all you need from a camera app, it’s a pocket-friendly option that does a great job with these types of photos.

Specter is also targeting long-exposure photos, but it uses AI to help you take better photos. The app can even remove clutter from your photos so you can focus on the subject or background rather than people you don’t know.

On the other hand, Pro Cam 8 is a full-fledged camera app that can also last a long timelighting photos. If you’re looking for a camera app with a manual mode that lets you control shutter speed, ISO, exposure levels, etc., Pro Cam 8 might be a good option for you.