While I was on holiday, I tried to make use of my tripod to take a long exposure shot of Lago di Ledro. I put my Nikon d3300 on shutter priority with ISO of 100/200 and ss of a few seconds, however the camera warned me that subject is too bright and the picture still came a tad too bright (not all white but not to my liking). What should have I done in that scenario to take a better photo?

Edit: Would a UV or CPL filter have helped?


You have a few options - and they all boil down to getting less light into the camera:

  1. Smaller aperture using a smaller aperture (higher f-number) will make the image darker, it will also increase the depth of field (usually a good thing in landscape photography) and will reduce sharpness if you push it past a certain value (test with your own camera/lens combination to see where the softening get too bad for your taste).

  2. Lower ISO but don't get into the "extended ISO" range (on Canon lower than 100, not sure about Nikon)

  3. Time of day around sunrise and sunset it's darker outside so you can get longer shutter speed, also, the light is usually softer and more directional.

  4. ND Filter an ND filter is basically "sunglasses for you camera" it cuts the amount of light without affecting colors and lets you increase exposure time without changing other parameters

  5. Faster shutter speed this is last because you wanted a slow shutter speed, but if you can't use any of the other options you'll have to compromise on shutter speed.

You also have some options in post-processing, they are generally not as good as getting it right in-camera but are way better than nothing:

  1. Reduce exposure in post If the image isn't too bright you can use software like Lightroom to reduce the exposure and recover the image.

  2. Stacking Take multiple images with the longest shutter speed you can, then average them in software, this causes blur that is similar to the long exposure blur.


If you were using Shutter-Priority exposure mode, you would have wanted to set your EV compensation down -1 or -2 stops, depending on how overexposed your shot was.

Even better would be to set your camera to Manual exposure mode, pick the shutter speed you want, and manual dial your aperture down (higher f/number) until you achieve the desired exposure level. I say "better" because on shutter-priority, EV compensation only allow you a -2 stop compensation, whereas using manual exposure allows you as much latitude as you want.

  • very helpful links! I should try Manual mode next time, however I was afraid the ss and aper would not "match" – rikket Oct 16 '14 at 14:10

What you are looking for is a ND filter (Neutral Density).

They comes both as a fixed value f/stops and as a variable filter.

Which as it says either takes a fixed value of light or a variable amount. I own a variable which after a few test shots can be matched any lighting situation. The fixed amount ND filter, only matches the particular situation where light (shutter + av + iso (+ev)) comes to this level.

I'm googling a few youtubes: Money saving tips , Beginner DLSR

I was actually looking for a youtube where some scientists walked through the details of ND, and pending how you turned the two layers, light could or could not travel through the barriers.

Polarization (getting close), Bingo, the scientist explaining it.

The way I see it. The problem with fixed stop is, as you found you picture was slightly burned out. I don't know the situation you were in, but I'll speculate you needed 5 stops in you setup. So could have bought a f/+5 stops ND filter. But tomorrow you see a similar shot you want. This lighting is different so, with the setup you lay out, you need a 15 stop ND filter. Bam your f/5 is plain out of luck, because you still need 10 stops and the image becomes blown.

  • Yeah this - I love my variable ND filter for daytime stuff, like lightning pics during the day. Works great! – Jasmine Oct 13 '14 at 17:36
  • At least until accurate color is critical... Both fixed ND filters and variable ND filters (which are really two stacked polarizers, not ND filters) have their advantages and weaknesses. ND filters are much like zoom lenses: The best ND filters come very close but don't quite get there in terms of the image quality of fixed ND filters that cost a fraction of the price. – Michael C Oct 14 '14 at 0:00
  • Maybe that's why I have 5 different fixed ND filters for two lenses :) – Jasmine Oct 14 '14 at 1:08
  • @Jasmine My comment was more directed at the answer than your comment on it. The answer fails to acknowledge the differences in performance between ND and variable ND filters and seems to be saying two stacked polarizers are just like true ND filters plus they can be adjusted for density. That is simply not the case. Far from it. It also infers that one variable ND filter is a more cost effective solution than multiple ND filters. That is also usually not the case. – Michael C Oct 14 '14 at 7:17

Narrower aperture and ND filter are your options. You could control the aperture in your lens or camera. Being a beginner you could try the cheaper ND filters available in eBay which comes from China which costs nothing much compared to the real cokin P square filters. Which comes with a bunch of filters and ring adapter. Quality could be bad but not tooo bad for a start. Below is the link to one of that type http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&id=200979459491&alt=web

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