Bulb Mode

Bulb Mode tutorial

If you have a bulb mode facility on your camera – and if you own a DLSR you should have one – you can use it best for night photography. Bulb mode is designed to allow you to keep the curtains open for long period of times. You can press the shutter button, curtain will open for an exposure that will last as long as you want. If you wish to finish the exposure just press the shutter button and the curtains will close.

The best results for the BULB settings are when you wish to see the stars sliding on the sky. For that you need to experiment with long exposure up to few hours.

Since this is a long time, you might need to purchase a remote trigger to be able to control the camera without touching it. For any longer exposure than 1/125, camera will shake due to the movement on your hand, including the pressing on the shutter button. That will lead to a blurry image.

One obvious fact is that for anything slower than 1/125th of a second, a tripod is recommended. I have met photographers shooting with 1/90 – 1/60th of a second claiming they have a steady hand, but that is just a claim. There is no way anyone can beat the sensitivity of a sensor.

Just as an exercise, you can take your tripod and camera during dark hours of the night to a location where there is anything spectacular enough to give it a try and experiment again with the camera settings in BULB mode. This is how I have discovered differences in long exposures and how much light the sensor needs even during the night to give you a complete white burnt result.

Just a word of advice, do not try long exposure during the day as you might damage your sensor.
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About Christian Tudor

professional photographer, main editor at Academy of Photography and