Long Exposure on iPhone


Today’s Question: You recently answered a question about different camera apps for the iPhone and mentioned that some apps enable you to capture long exposures. Is there a way to capture a long exposure with the built-in Camera app without having to use a different app?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can create a long exposure with the built-in iPhone Camera app by enabling the Live Photo capture option and then changing the effect to Long Exposure.

More Detail: The ability to capture long exposures with the built-in Camera app for iPhone and iPad mobile devices is a bit of a “hidden feature”. It doesn’t provide as much flexibility as some of the other apps I recommended in Monday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, but it does provide a basic long exposure effect.

The effect is supported as part of the Live Photo capture option, which captures something of a moving photo that is similar to a brief video clip. To enable Live Photo capture tap the icon for this feature, which has a set of concentric circles similar to a target icon. With Live Photo turned on the circles will not show a slash across them, with the slash showing up when the feature is turned off. In older versions the icon would also turn yellow when it was enabled.

With Live Photo enabled capture a photo in the normal way, but you’ll end up with an animated photo. In the Photos app open the Live Photo capture, and tap the popup at the top-left that shows “LIVE” by default. From the popup select “Long Exposure”, and the image will convert to a long exposure effect created by blending the multiple frames of the animated photo capture.

Note that in older versions of iOS there isn’t a popup for the Live Photo effect. Instead you would swipe upward on the photo to reveal the metadata details below, where you would also find the Live Photo effect options.

The result created with the Long Exposure setting for a Live Photo capture doesn’t provide the flexibility of some of the other apps that enable you to adjust the effective shutter speed of the long exposure effect, but this Live Photo approach does provide a basic capability with the built-in Camera app.

Note that you can review my recommendations about alternatives to the built-in Camera app for iPhones on the blog here: