How to Take Long Exposure on iPhone: A Step-by-Step Guide

Taking long exposure photos with your iPhone is like capturing magic in your pocket. It’s the trick that lets you turn a waterfall into a silky smooth masterpiece or capture the hustle and bustle of city lights in a way that makes them look like they’re dancing. Sounds cool, right? Well, you’re in luck! Here’s the scoop: you’ll need a tripod, the right light conditions, and to use either the iPhone’s built-in camera settings or a third-party app. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of making this happen!

Step by Step Tutorial for Taking Long Exposure on iPhone

Before we start, let’s understand what these steps will achieve. Long exposure photography involves leaving the camera’s shutter open for an extended period, allowing more light to hit the sensor. This results in capturing motion in a still photo, creating a unique, artistic effect.

Step 1: Set up your iPhone on a tripod

Mounting your iPhone on a tripod ensures stability for the long exposure shot.

Without a steady hand or surface, your photo will look like a blurry mess rather than the cool, artsy image you’re aiming for. A tripod is your best bet to avoid camera shake and capture a crisp photo.

Step 2: Choose the right lighting conditions

Find a scene with a good contrast between static and moving elements under low to moderate light.

Long exposure works best when there’s a clear difference between the moving parts (like cars or water) and static parts (like buildings or rocks). Too much light will overexpose the shot, and too little won’t capture the movement well.

Step 3: Use the iPhone’s built-in camera app or a third-party app

Open your preferred camera app, ready to set long exposure settings.

The iPhone’s built-in camera app has a ‘Live Photo’ feature that can be converted into a long exposure shot. Alternatively, third-party apps offer more manual control over the exposure settings.

Step 4: Set your exposure time

Adjust the exposure settings to control how long the shutter stays open.

In the iPhone’s native camera, you’ll convert a Live Photo to a long exposure after taking it. With third-party apps, you can set the exposure time before taking the shot. The longer the exposure, the more movement you’ll capture.

Step 5: Take the shot and edit if necessary

Press the shutter button and wait for the exposure time to elapse, then edit your photo to perfection.

After taking the shot, you might want to adjust the contrast, brightness, or saturation to make your long exposure photo pop.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a stunning long exposure photo that captures movement in a still image.

Tips for Taking Long Exposure on iPhone

  • Use a remote shutter or the camera timer to avoid shaking the phone when you press the button.
  • Experiment with different exposure times to see what effects you can create.
  • If your photo is too bright, try using an ND filter to reduce the light coming into the lens.
  • Make sure your iPhone is fully charged or bring a portable charger, as long exposures can drain the battery quickly.
  • Be patient and take multiple shots to ensure you get one that you’re happy with.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time of day for long exposure photography?

The best time of day is during the ‘golden hours’—shortly after sunrise or before sunset—when the light is softer and more diffused.

Can I take long exposure photos without a tripod?

Yes, but it’s very challenging to keep your hands steady enough. It’s recommended to use a tripod or stable surface.

Can Live Photos be converted to long exposure shots?

Yes, in the ‘Photos’ app, swipe up on a Live Photo and select the ‘Long Exposure’ effect.

Do I need a special app for long exposure on my iPhone?

Not necessarily. The built-in camera app can take long exposures using Live Photos, but third-party apps offer more control over the settings.

Can long exposure damage my iPhone’s camera?

No, taking long exposure photos won’t harm your iPhone’s camera.


  1. Set up the iPhone on a tripod.
  2. Choose the right lighting conditions.
  3. Open the camera app.
  4. Set the exposure time.
  5. Take the shot and edit.


So, there you have it—a comprehensive guide on how to take long exposure on iPhone. It’s not just about pressing a button and hoping for the best. It’s about understanding the dance of light and time, and using your iPhone as a wand to cast a spell on the scene in front of you. It’s a skill that requires patience and practice, but once you’ve mastered it, the creative possibilities are endless. Imagine transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary, capturing moments in time that the naked eye can’t see. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a curious newbie, long exposure photography is a fascinating technique to explore. So, grab your iPhone, find a captivating scene, and start experimenting. Who knows? You might just capture a piece of magic that’s uniquely yours.

Join Our Free Newsletter

Featured guides and deals

You may opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Policy