Long Exposure with Smartphone


Today’s Question: You mentioned that it is possible to simulate a long exposure effect with a smartphone using certain apps. Can you recommend an app for the iPhone that provides this feature?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The app I’ve been using to capture long exposure effects on the iPhone is called “Slow Shutter” by Cogitap Software. In addition, if you have upgraded to iOS 11 or later you can create a similar effect using the Live Photo feature.

More Detail: The “Slow Shutter” app by Cogitap Software enables you to exercise a fair amount of control over the effect you’re creating, such as by adjusting the overall shutter speed you want to achieve. You can use this app to capture long exposures in real time.

In addition, with the release of iOS 11 the iPhone can now create a long exposure effect using the Live Photo feature. To use this option, first capture a photo with the Live Photo option enabled. The icon for the Live Photo feature looks something like a target, with several concentric circles. That icon is yellow when the feature is enabled, and you can tap the icon to toggle the setting.

After capturing a photo with the Live Photo feature enabled, review that image in the Photos app. Then swipe upward from near the bottom of the screen to bring up the Details screen for the image. Under the Effects heading you can swipe through the various options, and choose “Long Exposure” to create a long exposure effect.

In both cases the image you capture isn’t truly a long exposure, but rather a composite created from multiple frames blended together. The Live Photo feature, for example, essentially records a brief video clip, which consists of multiple frames that can be blended for the long exposure effect.