KNOW THE RIGHT SETTINGS
Different times of day and different situations require adjustment of your camera settings. You need to be aware and sensitive to the changes in your frame to make the necessary changes. Many times, long exposure shots turn out either overexposed or underexposed, so you lose crucial details in the image.
Personally, there are two key settings that Jeryl keeps constant whenever he takes long exposure shots. These are the ISO and the aperture. Firstly, he sets his ISO to the camera’s optimum quality (usually at ISO 100 or 200). Then, depending on the subject matter for the shot, he keeps aperture at f/8 or f/9 to ensure that all the details within the frame is in focus. Anything more or lesser than that tends to result in the loss of certain details that might not be visible to the naked eye, unless zoomed in on screen later.
The last setting to take note of is shutter speed. The longer the shutter speed, the longer the shutter stays open and thus the greater the amount of light that enters the sensor. In some cases, this results in overexposed images. One way of ensuring that the image is not overexposed, is to look at the Exposure Value (EV) meter on the camera after setting the shutter speed. If you are taking a long exposure shot of the cityscape, having the EV meter read just slightly below zero will enable you to retain the city’s details while not overexposing the city lights, which may get overexposed if it’s above zero.
When you get exposure right, there is usually little adjustment required. The details of the image are retained, so Jeryl simply adds a gradient filter in Lightroom to bring down the exposure of the sky. This in turn brings out the colors and details. He also brought down highlights and increased shadows to enhance the details of the cloud movement. Lastly, Jeryl says to remember to enable lens correction to your image, as that helps to remove vignetting.