Reflections on Long Exposure

Last week’s Long Exposure challenge pushed my creative and technical boundaries. This was the first time I’ve applied the technique to LEGO photography.


My first image was inspired by the feeling of speed.  Long exposure photography usually involves moving elements. And Benny riding on his space buggy felt like a playful way to capture this.

To create a space vibe, I set up the scene with a starry galaxy poster board as backdrop and a piece of black ceramic tile as floordrop.  My main light was a Litrapro LED panel with softbox positioned just out of frame top left. And as the background light I used a bare Litrapro aimed at the poster.

To emphasize Benny (and buggy) as the subject, I set my aperture wide open at f/4 to render the background as a soft nebula blur.  I then composed and manually focussed the scene with the buggy in its final position and marked the spot a small piece of putty.

For the actual shot, I began with Benny just out of frame to the right and pushed him carefully to the marked spot.  Given the very narrow depth of field, I had to be very precise in aiming. And my early attempts felt rushed and did not work well.  To overcome this, I used neutral density filters to lengthen the exposure so that I could be more deliberate.  The final shot is a 45-second exposure. The first half with Benny in motion and the latter half in final position so that he would look “solid” in relation to the blurred trails.  It looks like he’s having fun!

Battle Ready Lucy

For my second shot, I chose another The LEGO Movie 2 character: Battle Ready Lucy.  To evoke a suitably apocalyptic feeling I imagined a scene with her riding alone across a desolate salt flat.

My setup was the same as the previous shot. Except with the galaxy poster swapped out for two pieces of paper.  A blue/gray piece on top, covering all but a corner wedge of a copper piece.

During the 5-second-long exposure, I moved the background from left to right to create a panning effect with everything but the motorcycle blurred.  It did take a few attempts to get everything aligned… and I doubt that I could ever perfectly replicate this. For me, that is both the challenge and fun of long exposure photography.  Unlike conventional photography, we are capturing an extended period of time that cannot be seen with the naked eye.  Experimentation (and patience) is key, but the results can be otherworldly!

If you want to see some more long exposure fun of last weeks challenge, have a look at instagram or join us all on Discord.


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