Shooting Challenge: Long Party Exposures

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New Year's Eve is this weekend, meaning that most of us are attending parties. For this week's Shooting Challenge, I want you to capture that a really long exposure. 15 seconds to 30 minutes.

The Challenge

Take a long exposure of an NYE party. The longer, the better. (And feel free to use lights for light painting, or make it natural - whatever!)

The Technique

Set your camera on a tripod somewhere no one will touch it.

You can set the exposure up to 30 seconds with most cameras. To go longer, set your shutter to "bulb" mode - the longer you hold the shutter, the longer the photo will expose for. (A remote shutter will stop you from shaking the camera while you do so.)

- Set your aperture somewhat high (f/11 or higher) to increase depth of field (to get the entire frame in focus).
- Keep your ISO low. No reason to suffer the noise of 800+ if you're doing a long exposure anyway.
- Depending on the amount of light in the room, you may very well need a neutral density filter.
- Make sure that, if you try a really long (several minute exposure), your battery is fully charged.


Now, what you do creatively is up to you. Giving guests of a party flashlights, LEDs - these options can light paint a whole room. But general blur and commotion can be fun, too.

The Example

Our lead photo by Jack Zalium is a great example of the energy you can capture in a long exposure party scene. I didn't see metadata on flickr or the photo itself, but I'm guessing we're looking at an exposure of about 30 seconds, though by the strong figure outlines it could be closer to 15. Regardless, note the ethereal energy of the shot, how it captures a moment in a different way than a quick exposure with more clarity could.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.

Send your best photo by Monday, Jan 2nd at 10AM Eastern to with "NYE" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameNYE.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameNYEWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.