How To Use Your Camera's Bulb Mode

Here are a few subjects you can capture more creatively with the Bulb mode.

07/12/2012 - 00:00

With compacts and DSLRs having more features, options and settings than ever before it's easy to miss a couple when you're looking at what your new camera can do. However, one setting, which is found on most DSLRs nowadays, that can be left behind simply because some people don't know what it does should be looked at a bit more closely.

What setting am I talking about? Well it's the Bulb setting and it's one you should really get to know how to use if you want to get a little more creative with your photography.

The Bulb or B mode can be found on quite a few Pentax DSLRs, including the K-5, K-5 II and K-5 II s which happens to be weatherproof, something which is very useful at this time of year when we are more likely to get wet! The K-30 also has this feature and you can currently claim £50 cashback when you purchase a K-30 with any Pentax lens.

This setting gives you more creative freedom as unlike other shutter speeds which restrict your exposure times, Bulb mode allows you to lock the shutter open for minutes, hours or longer if you really want to. Just remember your remote or cable release as you need to keep the shutter button pressed and one of these will allow you to do this without touching the camera which can cause shake.

Do make sure your camera's battery is fully charged or if you're using disposable batteries that they are fresh as this mode can drain power quickly, plus if the battery dies before the image is written to card all that time you have been waiting will have been wasted. Remember, in cold temperatures the battery will run down relatively quickly too.

Fireworks

When it comes to subject choices, there's plenty to have a play around with, including fireworks - a subject you may be trying to capture once Big Ben strikes it's last chime on the last day of the year. You can capture single explosions of fireworks quite easily with exposure times of around 1-4 seconds. However, for a shot filled with colourful explosions you'll need to use Bulb mode. Switch to a wide angle lens if you have one as it'll be easier to capture a series of explosions and will help with composition. It can be a little trial and error with this form of photography but if you watch a few go up in the air you'll soon have an idea of where you need to aim your lens. Once set up, switch to Bulb mode and keep the lens covered with a dark piece of card, or something similar, until a burst appears. At this point, uncover the lens then put the card, or whatever you're using, back in place again until another burst occurs. You can keep this going for as long as you like but once finished, do remember to stop the exposure.

In the city, try photographing architecture as even the most boring of floodlit buildings can come to life when shot in Bulb mode. If you have a big wheel in your town or city you can use longer exposure times to capture the movement of the wheel as a circle of colour when shot at night. Plus, the longer exposure times should mean that anyone who happens to be moving through your shot on the busy street won't be recorded on to your camera's sensor. You may also find foreground rides popping up around wheels and Christmas markets at this time of year which can be blurred into colourful lines that exaggerate movement when captured at night with the Bulb mode.

Lisbon station
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk

While you're out in your town at night you should take advantage of busy roads and shoot some light trails. This is when you use long exposures (making Bulb mode ideal) to turn headlights into long streams of colour. Just set up above or next to a busy stretch of road, put your camera on a tripod and switch to Bulb mode. It's worth noting that street lights can end up looking like overexposed, white circles in your shots as they don't move, however most of the time it isn't a problem and it can actually look quite effective, particularly on cold, foggy evenings.

If you're feeling really creative why not try light painting. This is where you use a torch, LED, lamp, or whatever other portable light source you have to 'paint' your scene with light. Once you've opened the shutter you can paint shapes in the air, Christmas stars and holly work well at this time of year, or apply your 'paint' to other objects in the scene. Tools such as light wands can be used to create abstract pieces of work that have various colourful lines and other shapes decorating the shot too.

Our last subject is star trials and when you have a clear night, this is something you can capture in your own backyard. Although, if you live in a busy city there may be too much light pollution so you may be better off heading for the countryside. You don't want it to be too cold either as frost will start to form on your lens after a while, plus it'll become uncomfortable for you too.

Put your camera on a tripod, aiming the lens at the pole star, open the shutter on B and keep it open for... well, quite some time. Stick to smaller f/numbers (over on ePHOTOzine it is suggested you start at around f/5.6) and start with an exposure of around 10 minutes. If you find the effect isn't great, go for a longer time, increasing the length until you produce a result you're happy with.

Star Trails
Photo by Peter Bargh.

Related Photos

john111

Link Posted 11/08/2018 - 07:15
Here is the sign in option in the search engine delete bing search history completely. So why you don't use use in the better way like some time if you need to check the history and want to manage it then this option will work for you.

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 22/09/2018 - 07:51
Yes i am totally agreed with this article and i just want say that this article is very nice and very informative article.I will make sure to be reading your blog more. You made a good point but I can't help but wonder, what about the other side? !!!!!!Thanks blog posting service

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 24/09/2018 - 20:28
If more people that write articles involved themselves with writing great content like you, more readers would be interested in their writings. I have learned too many things from your article. web developing agency
Last Edited by saqibkhatri on 24/09/2018 - 20:29

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 30/09/2018 - 17:16
Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our. paper writing service

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 04/10/2018 - 08:58
I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy. healthy weight loss

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 13/10/2018 - 07:06
I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy. Puisi dan Sastra

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 24/10/2018 - 18:57
Great post but I was wondering if you could write a little more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thanks in advance!
moi

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 29/10/2018 - 06:40
This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. Capital Gains Tax Advice London Accountants

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 03/11/2018 - 08:59
นั้นจะเป็นอีกหนึ่งการลงทุนที่น่าจับตามองเป็นอย่างมาก FIFA55dd

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 04/11/2018 - 16:25
Recently, I have commenced a blog the info you give on this site has encouraged and benefited me hugely. Thanks for all of your time & work.
celebritynetworthupdates

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 08/11/2018 - 08:37
Great write-up, I am a big believer in commenting on blogs to inform the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world wide web!.. urban radio stations in marbella

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 13/11/2018 - 16:26
You have a real ability for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article. I agree with your way of thinking. Thank you for sharing. Roberto Hroval

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 17/11/2018 - 10:58
Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually realize what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my site =). We could have a hyperlink change contract between us! his explanation

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 17/11/2018 - 12:49
Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up. community

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 20/11/2018 - 13:49
Thank you for very usefull information.. Best 7 LED Headlight

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 20/11/2018 - 17:27
A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post.
VIP Financing Solutions Reviews

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 22/11/2018 - 13:39
Whenever I have some free time, I visit blogs to get some useful info. Today, I found your blog with the help of Google. Believe me; I found it one of the most informative blog. https://happynewyear-2019x.com/

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 29/11/2018 - 12:40
Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information. ketoconazole hair loss shampoo

maryamkhan980

Link Posted 02/12/2018 - 16:56
Quickly our own web site will, no doubt definitely turn into well regarded together with practically all running any website family members, due to its careful content and evaluate posts. Outplacement London

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 11/12/2018 - 15:55
Easy Quran and islamic learning any where and any time. Learn Quran Online via Skype for kids and adults. Our teachers planned the comprehensive lesson to make it easy for the students.
Skype Quran Classes

saqibkhatri

Link Posted 13/12/2018 - 13:05
I gotta favorite this website it seems very helpful . smm panels list
Add a Comment
You must be registered or logged-in to comment.