Long exposures using video

One trick I sometimes use when I need long exposure times but I don’t have a tripod with me is shooting video.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Shoot handheld video using “quite short” shutter time
  2. Stabilize the video in DaVinci Resolve or some other video editor
  3. Export images from the video editor
  4. Edit the images together


Use shutter speed that is short enough to hide trembling of your hands, but otherwise as long as possible. With wide angle lenses it’s possible to use longer shutter time. Same is true when the closest thing to the camera is further away.


Many video editor and compositing apps have features to stabilize footage. DaVinci Resolve for example allows locking the camera to make it feel like it was shot using a tripod. This will work quite nicely if there’s not too much movement in the video AND you have used short shutter time. Long shutter times can show up as movement streaks within individual frames if your hands tremble.

Export & Edit

Some editors have also features to combine many frames into one. This is normally used as a special effect to e.g. give footage drunken feeling. For stabilized (virtually locked) shot it will do all the work to combine the frames together and you can export just a single frame to be perfected in any image editor.

If you can’t combine the frames in the video editor you need to export multiple frames and then combine them.


Here are two images of Sir Henri’s waterfall in Norway (Google Maps link). One uses video and the other is just a single image. We were just quickly visiting the waterfall, so I didn’t have a tripod with me.

Sir Henri's waterfall, Norway Sir henri's waterfall, Norway