If you love to photograph at night (or even if you are scared), bulb mode by all means is one of the best shooting modes for you. It lets your creative juices flowing. The simple mechanism of holding down the shutter release for as long as you need greatly help in trying out different techniques like light painting or photographing the sun-stars off the city streetlights. There are other creative ideas as well that you can employ by befriending your camera’s bulb mode. But as they say first things first, so check out how to use the bulb mode before heading towards the list of creative ideas. I’ll wait for you.
Welcome back! Now that you know how to use the bulb mode, its time to check out the cool, creative shooting ideas with bulb mode on.
Photographing lightning has to be fast and quick. To get the brightest light streaks, you have to keep the shutter open for the shortest possible time — unless of course if you want to capture multiple thunderbolts. Your camera’s bulb mode allows you to make the exposure only for as long the light strikes, i.e., the fraction of the second. Once the exposure is made, you can immediately get ready for shooting more of it.
Photograph Street Light & Light Trails
Photographing the urbanscapes and cityscapes towards the evening is a great idea for putting bulb mode to work. The rushing traffic and still street lights make for an exciting combo of static sunstars followed by the light trails.
Graffiti & Light Painting
Light painting and light graffiti has become the design paradise for cool dudes out there. And you can see designers sweating in Photoshop to create beautiful light painting effects. However as a photographer you can try this effect in-camera as well. Darken the room such that there are no traces of light except for the flashlights used for drawing, painting or illuminating the subject. And get ready to capture some amazing effects. You can either draw some beautiful design with the lights or simply illuminate the subject as in this example. The photographer waited until it was completely dark and “painted” the rock and leaf with light from a flashlight. [Exposure: 30 seconds]
Shooting Amazing Star Trails
Capturing the amazing star trails requires you to expose for long. Switching to the bulb mode allows you to go ultra long on exposures thus paying you off with some beautiful spirals. Don’t worry if the clouds are scattered all over the sky. In fact, cloudy nights act as an added benefit. The floating clouds make the images more dramatic and interesting.
Beautiful colors, subtle smoke and colorful lights emitting of the fireworks look great at long exposures. You can either go for ultra long exposures or simply open the shutter for as long as the cracker bursts. So, if you don’t already have a cable release or haven’t yet tried out the camera’s bulb mode for shooting the fireworks, this year’s 4th July is the good day to give it a try. I’m already getting excited to fill the frame with sparkling colors of the fireworks. BTW how about checking some tips and examples for inspiration — Fantastic fireworks photographs and How to photograph fireworks.
Dramatic Seascapes & Smooth Waterfalls
Photographing the seascapes and waterfalls during the dawn and the dusk is a lovely reprise. The blue hour magic is on the play at these times. So, keep your shutter open for a little longer for capturing stunning seascapes and seamlessly smoothened waterfalls. When shooting the seascapes on cloudy evenings, the scene looks more dramatic — the calm seascapes amidst the motion of the clouds add dramatic effect to the scene.
So, how are you employing your camera’s bulb mode?