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

Taking incredible long exposure photos on an iPhone is easier than you think. With just a few simple steps, you can capture stunning images that show motion in a dynamic and artistic way. You’ll need to stabilize your iPhone, adjust some settings, and let the magic happen as the camera does the rest.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a collection of mesmerizing long exposure photos that showcase your creative photography skills.


Long exposure photography has always been a fascinating way to capture the world around us. It allows photographers to portray time and motion in a single image, creating a sense of movement and flow that is impossible to capture in a standard snapshot. This technique is particularly effective for capturing scenes like flowing water, cityscapes at night, or the stars moving across the sky.

But did you know that you don’t need a fancy DSLR camera to take these kinds of photos? That’s right, your trusty iPhone is all you need to create stunning long exposure shots. In recent years, smartphone cameras have improved drastically, and with the right know-how, you can use your iPhone to produce images that rival those taken with professional gear.

Long exposure photography on an iPhone is relevant to any photography enthusiast looking to expand their skill set, as well as to professionals who may need to take high-quality images on the go without all their equipment. It’s a fun and accessible way to experiment with different photography techniques, and the results can be truly breathtaking.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Take Incredible Long Exposure Photos on an iPhone

Before you get started, it’s important to understand what these steps will accomplish. Following these instructions will help you set up your iPhone to take long exposure photos, which means the camera’s shutter will stay open longer to capture more light and movement.

Step 1: Stabilize your iPhone

Position your iPhone on a stable surface or use a tripod.

Stabilizing your iPhone is crucial when taking long exposure photos. Any movement can cause blurring and ruin the effect. If you don’t have a tripod, rest your phone on a solid surface, like a wall or a rock.

Step 2: Use the native Camera app or a third-party app

Open the Camera app and swipe to the left to select ‘Live’ mode, or download a third-party app with long exposure capabilities.

The iPhone’s native Camera app has a hidden feature that allows you to take long exposure shots using the ‘Live’ photo function. If you prefer more control over the settings, there are several third-party apps available that offer advanced long exposure features.

Step 3: Compose your shot

Frame your shot, focusing on a subject that will remain still or where you want to capture movement.

When composing your shot, look for elements that will look interesting with motion blur, such as moving water or passing cars. Keep in mind that any static elements in the frame should be sharp and in focus.

Step 4: Take the photo

Press and hold the shutter button to take a ‘Live’ photo or follow the instructions in your third-party app.

Hold your iPhone as still as possible, or ensure it’s secure on the tripod. The longer the exposure, the more pronounced the motion effects will be.

Step 5: Edit the photo

In the Photos app, find your ‘Live’ photo, swipe up, and select ‘Long Exposure’ or edit in your third-party app.

The ‘Live’ photo feature captures a few seconds of video before and after the photo is taken. By selecting ‘Long Exposure,’ the iPhone will blend these frames to create a smooth, long exposure effect.


AccessibilityWith just an iPhone, you can take long exposure photos anywhere, anytime. You don’t need to carry around heavy equipment or have extensive photography knowledge.
CreativityLong exposure photography on an iPhone allows for creative expression. You can experiment with different settings and subjects to create unique images that stand out.
ConvenienceThe process is quick and the tools you need are minimal. It’s a convenient way to practice photography without the hassle of setting up complex equipment.


Limited controlThe iPhone’s Camera app provides limited control over the exposure settings compared to a professional camera, which can restrict the creative process.
Potential for blurWithout proper stabilization, there’s a high risk of camera shake and unintentional blurring, which can ruin the photo.
Battery consumptionLong exposure photography can drain your iPhone’s battery faster, as the camera and screen are in use for extended periods.

Additional Information

Taking incredible long exposure photos on an iPhone is not just about following the steps; it’s also about understanding the best conditions for this type of photography. The ideal time for long exposure shots is during the golden hour—the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset—when the light is soft and diffused. Nighttime is also great for capturing the movement of lights, like car headlights or city illuminations.

Remember to be patient and take multiple shots to get the perfect one. The beauty of digital photography is that you can try as many times as you need without wasting film. Use the iPhone’s burst mode to capture several ‘Live’ photos in quick succession, giving you a greater selection to choose from when choosing the best frame for the long exposure effect.

You may also want to experiment with different subjects and scenes. Moving water like rivers or waterfalls can create a silky smooth effect, while stars can create trails across the night sky. The key is to find movement in the scene that will translate well into a long exposure photograph.


  1. Stabilize your iPhone using a tripod or stable surface.
  2. Open the Camera app and select ‘Live’ mode or use a third-party app.
  3. Compose your shot with a focus on movement.
  4. Take the photo by pressing and holding the shutter button.
  5. Edit the photo by selecting ‘Long Exposure’ in the Photos app or using your third-party app.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need any special equipment to take long exposure photos on my iPhone?

No, you don’t need special equipment, but a tripod can help stabilize your iPhone for the best results.

Can I take long exposure photos with any iPhone model?

Long exposure photography using the ‘Live’ photo feature is possible with iPhone 6s and newer models.

How long should the exposure be?

The length of the exposure will vary depending on the effect you’re trying to achieve. Typically, a few seconds is enough to capture motion.

Can I take long exposure photos during the day?

Yes, but it’s more challenging due to the excess light. Try using an ND filter or shoot during dawn or dusk.

What are the best conditions for long exposure photography?

The best conditions are during low light situations like the golden hour or nighttime, where you can capture the movement of light.


Taking incredible long exposure photos on an iPhone is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It’s a technique that can elevate your photography, allowing you to create striking, dynamic images with just your smartphone.

Remember to stabilize your iPhone, use the ‘Live’ photo feature or a third-party app, and experiment with different subjects and conditions. With practice, you’ll be able to capture the world in motion like never before, all from the palm of your hand. Keep experimenting, and happy shooting!