Long Exposure Photography using your iPhone

The iPhone added a feature called, “Live Photos” in iOS 11*. A Live Photo captures 1.5 seconds both before and after you press the shutter button. A Live Photo combines a high quality image, with the before and after video clip and the audio into a single package, or Live Photo.

When you first open a Live Photo, the image springs into motion, and you see the 3 second clip. You can watch it again by using 3D Touch on the image (or a ‘long press’ on the image on iPad or other devices without 3D Touch). This is magical for photographing children, or even people. For example, I often photograph groups of people. There is always one or two people that close their eyes or morph into some odd facial expression. With a Live Photo, you can use any frame in the 3 second clip as the still photo. This is magical!

Today, I wanted to talk about using Live Photo to create a Long Exposure photo. Let’s start with how you enable Live Photo. When you open the native camera app, and frame a photo, you will see a set of controls on the left of the screen (I’m using iOS 12). The yellow button inside the red circle is the Live Photo switch. When it is yellow, as it is in this example, Live Photo is on. If you press it, it will change to white, with a line through it to indicate it is disabled.


Any image that is shot as a Live Photo includes the ‘LIVE’ indicator in the upper left corner (see the left impage below), and also added to the Live Photos photo album. You can find this album in the Albums tab of Photos.


Now the cool part: Any Live Photo can be converted to a long exposure photo. To do this, while you have the long exposure photo on the screen (as in the photo on the right), swipe up to reveal the effects screen. There are four options, Live, Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure. In the example below, I converted the photo to a Long Exposure photo.


What you end up with is this buttery flow of goodness:  


The photo is then moved into the Long Exposure album and removed from the Live Photo album.

That, my friend, is how you create amazing long exposure photographs using an iPhone. Go forth and create amazing photos!


  • Live Photo is available on iOS 11 or later on iPhone 6s, 7, 8 (and their Plus versions), iPhone X, Xs, Xs Max and Xr.

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©2018 Rick Cartwright