I would love to start playing around with long exposure photography, more specifically light painting.

Sadly I don't have any camera except the iSight built into my Macbook Pro and my mid-range Android phone (I'm in college. Money doesn't really exist for me).

Does anyone know of a way to take long exposure photos using either a Mac or a good Android app that can?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ One of the problems with long exposure is that it requires a very firm surface. Also, it requires a sensor without alot of noise. Both of those are going to be very difficult in a phone or a macbook. A camera has a screw to connect it to a tripod, making the problem easier, but I don't know how you'd do it with a phone... Hmmm. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 29, 2011 at 22:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have to agree with Pearsonartphoto, your limitations on hardware are going to make it difficult to do. It may help to define what you mean by long exposure as, for some, it's as little as a fraction of a second, for others it's minutes or hours. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Jan 29, 2011 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ The two platforms you're asking about are so different that I think this would be better as two separate questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jan 29, 2011 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PearsonArtPhoto For Phones, there are very cheap tripod adapters. Or one could just lean the phone against something \$\endgroup\$
    – jng224
    Aug 6, 2020 at 12:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ 9 years later. Have you graduated from college? Have you found some of the camera apps available for cell phones that allow variable shutter speeds? Have you ever thought about FILM? Does money exist for you now? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Dec 4, 2020 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


Looks like there is an app that allows you to control the exposure and shutterspeed of the iSight:


  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, the shutter speed setting is only available on external iSights. \$\endgroup\$
    – Evan Krall
    Jan 30, 2011 at 0:31

Based on your budget-related clause, I'd guess you don't have a very current phone, either, but just in case:

It's now possible to sideload the Pixel camera app on (nearly) any Android 9 or 10 phone with compatible camera hardware -- this includes night exposures up to one minute, and may (for compatible phones) include astrophotography mode up to several minutes. I know the night photo mode works on my three year old first-gen Pixel, even though it's not officially supported by this app version; I haven't yet been able to test astro mode.

Some phone models require a specially modified version of the camera app, while others don't, so you'll need to search specifically for your model to be sure you get the correct version of the camera app, but at least the night vision mode is now supported on most phones with high quality cameras made in the past 2-3 years.


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