Aug 19, 2014

DSLR How To: Beating the 30 second timer with BULB mode

Tags: Canon DSLR shoot beyond 30 seconds shutter speed  
Any DSLR user knows that the maximum shutter speed is limited to 30 seconds. I see many good photographs on 500px.com that boast a shutter speed of 100+ seconds. I have tried searching for tips on the internet as to how I can enable my camera (Canon T3i) to do it. I wondered if it is only possible by upgrading to a more expensive camera, or investing on a intervalvometer device which allows an user to perform advanced timer exposures (like star trails). The answer, as I discovered later on, is quite simple. You need to use a mode called BULB, which works pretty much like how a filament bulb does. You turn on a switch, which 'exposes' its surrounding, and you turn it off. 

A BULB mode requires a user to press the shutter, and then press the shutter again to turn it back off. The interim period is the total exposure. The below picture is taken like that, where I started the exposure and stopped it after 124 seconds
Note:

  • The BULB mode only works in Manual mode, not even in Tv or Av. You need to shift to manual mode, increase the shutter speed to the maximum, beyond 30 seconds, and it will show BULB. 
  • The BULB mode can be used only in low light conditions, unless you employ special gears such as ND Filter.
  • To prevent camera shake, BULB modes must be used along with a tripod, and a remote shutter (or cable release or wireless remote) to trigger the shutter. The picture in the example used both.
Good luck with loooooong exposures. Post any questions you may have, or link to your existing pics.

I am a hobbyist photographer. I publish my work here and here

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