Long Exposure Photography at Doha Corniche

January 18, 2019

We all know that a photographer’s job is to ‘paint’ an image with the light available to him or her. Since light and weather conditions are beyond our control, the reward for capturing the perfect moment is priceless, at least emotionally. But capturing the perfect moment is not the only thing that makes photography special and a little unique compared to the real world. Things like slow shutter or long exposure, the use of a variety of filters, and techniques like focus stacking, high ISO in low-light, panoramas and vertoramas, Brenizer’s method, and many more add a special flair to photos, that is almost magical because we can’t see it with our own eyes.

Long exposure is one of the simplest techniques to show movement over time in a single shot. It transforms an ordinary scene into something a lot more appealing and beautiful. On December 21, 2018, I conducted a long exposure photowalk in Doha, Qatar during the early hours of the day before sunrise. The location chosen for the photo walk was Doha Corniche, because it offers an unobstructed view of the amazing skyline above the sea.

Participants’ Shots

You must have seen the smiling and happy faces of the wonderful group of shooters in the photo above. Now let me show you some of their images from the photowalk, and then I’ll share with you a few tips on long exposure photography.

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Doha Sunrise . . . #doha #sunrise #qatar

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Photo credits: Shaji Chandran


Photo credits: Karthi Thangaiah


Photo credits: Manjri Saxena

Long Exposure Photography Tips

If you only follow these simple tips, your long exposure shots would come out much better: 

General Guidelines
  • Use a tripod to keep your setup perfectly still.
  • A remote shutter release is very useful to avoid accidental shaking when pressing the shutter button. But if you do not have one, you could just use the “self-timer” feature on your camera to delay the shutter release. Alternatively, if your camera supports wifi and has a compatible smartphone app for remote shooting via wifi, use it and you are golden.
  • If you want to make the water look silky smooth, you should aim for an exposure of 30 seconds at the very least, but longer would be better. A 120-second exposure is sure to get you a very pleasing effect on water.
  • Most cameras don’t let you go beyond the 30-second shutter in Manual shooting mode. In order to go above, you will have to switch to “Bulb” mode, and a remote shutter release (or wifi shooting) will be required. 
ND Filter Recommendations

Long exposure photography is difficult without ND filters, especially if you don’t want to be shooting at the maximum apertures of f/22. And even at f/22, obtaining slower shutter speed is just not possible without an ND filter because of increasing ambient light level. Therefore, I recommend the following:

  • 5-stop ND: Ideal for use during golden hour to achieve a longer exposure above 30 seconds without going to f/22
  • 10-stop ND: Many people consider it a bit of a specialized filter because of its light stopping power. But I have personally found a 10-stop filter to be useful in many situations and throughout the day. You may use it after sunrise (after the golden hour) and get beautiful long exposures of more than 30 seconds in the presence of strong available light.
  • 3-stop ND: Many people suggest this density of ND filter. But I personally believe a 3-stop to be restrictive and useful only during a specific time of the day, such as the blue hour or a few minutes before. 
In-camera Long exposure Trick

There are times when you may not have an ND filter with you. Luckily, some cameras offer a neat feature that allows you to capture long exposures in-camera without any ND filter. Here is how you can do it on certain Nikon cameras:

  • Press the menu button
  • Then go to Shooting menu
  • Scroll down to “Multiple exposure” / turn it on / choose “single photo” / and the method should be “average”
  • no of shots is up to you. Some cameras like D8xx series allow up to 10 but others only up to 3.
  • Set your camera to self-timer mode.
  • Now when you click the shutter it will take the number of shots you selected and then merge them to create an equivalent longer exposure

The same can be achieved on some Canon cameras as well so just google it and try it out.

My shots from the Photowalk

Have a look at the examples below for some inspiration. You can see more on my Instagram channel, and if you have any questions regarding the shots or in general about photography, do not hesitate to dm me or comment below.

And that’s all for today. Now get your cameras out and shoot some long exposures. 

Stay Connected

If you would like to get updates regarding future workshops and photo walks, please follow me on the following social media channels:

Instagram: hammadiqbalphoto

Facebook: Hammad Iqbal Photography

Hope to see you in the future. Keep shooting!