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Nokia Pro Camera has been designed for one purpose; to make you a better photographer.


Its intuitive interface and added features make it possible for you to take control of all of the camera settings you need to take a truly amazing shot. In a five part series, we’re guiding you through how to make the most of Nokia Pro Camera. Today’s tutorial is about low light and long exposure.

You know when you’ve looked at a photo in a magazine, or on the TV, and it shows a car driving at night and the red tail lights leave a light trail? That’s created using a long exposure time.

The photos you’ve seen would also certainly have been taken using a DSLR or other high-end camera.

However, it’s now possible to take photos with great light trails using your Nokia Lumia 1020Lumia 925, Lumia 920 and Lumia 928 (with Amber update) using Nokia Pro Camera.

You can see an interactive example on how long exposure time will look like in the tutorial found in the Nokia Pro Camera application.

Long exposure to create light trails


Photo credit: Marcus Olsson

In order to create light trails, you’ll need two things; a moving, illuminated object, and a dark environment.

Decide what you want to take a photo of and get yourself in a safe and sturdy position. Remember, if you’re taking photos of cars, don’t get too close to the traffic.

With your camera in hand, and Nokia Pro Camera active, tap on the exposure icon – it’s the second from the right at the top. Alternatively, you can bring all the settings into view by sliding the on-screen camera shutter key in from the right. Again, it’s the second dial from the right.

By sliding the exposure icon up and down, you’re selecting the length of time you want the exposure to be set at.

When it’s right at the bottom, it’s on auto, and Nokia Pro Camera will decide what’s needed at the time you take the shot, but auto won’t work for creating light trails.

In order to create light trails we need a long exposure, so crank the exposure setting up to about one second – to start with.

Line up your shot, remembering to keep a very steady hand, press the camera key and wait for one second.

If you’ve timed it right and a car was passing during that one second, you should see a light trail coming from the car lights.

Low-light-and-long-exposure_02Photo taken using a Nokia Lumia 925

Thanks to the OIS (optical image stabilisation) on the Lumia devices, you can use one second quite comfortably without much interference from hand wobble.

However, if you want to increase the exposure time right up to the maximum of four seconds, you’ll get a much better result if you use a tripod mount. The less wobble, the better the shot.

Additionally, Nokia Pro Camera includes the shutter delay function to do away with any wobble. Once you’ve mounted your Lumia on a tripod (perhaps using the Nokia Camera grip), set the shutter delay and stand back; the camera will activate itself with no finger prodding.

Depending on how you want the final photo to look, you can also adjust the ISO levels. The higher the ISO number the brighter the scene. ISO also introduces noise, so the lower you can keep it, the more noise-free images you will get. We’ll have more on ISO in a future post.

Light trails can also be made at home. Turn off the lights, find a light source and start playing. Here’s one I made with a flashlight by setting the ISO to 100 and using a four second exposure time.

Photo taken using a Nokia Lumia 925

Long exposure for eerie water effects

While long exposure times can be fun for creating light-trails, you can also use long exposure time to create mysterious water scenes.

As with any long exposure shots you’ll need to be prepared to take a photo when the light level is low, as leaving the shutter open for a prolonged time (letting in too much light to the sensor) will result in a whitewashed photo.

If you’re near a beach, a river, or any body of water that’s flowing, you can create an eerie effect – think murky waves rolling onto a rocky shore.

Position yourself so that you can remain as still as possible. Maybe lay on the ground, if possible, or lean against a wall. Again, you need as little movement as possible.

Photo credit: Marcus Olsson

Set up your Lumia beside the flowing water and adjust the exposure settings as explained above.

For this shot, you may even need to use the full four second exposure time, so using a tripod with your phone may be the best method.

However if you plan to use a long exposure in your photos, just remember that you need low light and the camera needs to remain as still as possible.

Happy snapping!