Over the days leading up to the 25th of December I’d like to give something to everyone who stops by my blog. These tips cover camera settings, flash, lighting, software and gear. I’ll be providing a pair of tips each day until 25th December.

#37 – Bulb mode

bulb mode

What is bulb mode, when do you use it?

Bulb mode opens the shutter for as long as the shutter button is pressed. It’s used for extra long exposures greater than 30 seconds, and when the shutter must be opened for an indeterminate time.

bulb mode dial

Virtually all EOS cameras can be set to bulb mode, either by selecting manual exposure mode and turning the main dial to beyond the 30s exposure, or by selecting the B position on the mode dial for the cameras that have a specific bulb mode – the more advanced models.

bulb mode

I selected bulb mode, for this light trials long exposure. I wanted to be able to close the shutter as soon as the vehicle moving through the shot had moved out of the frame. This was to stop any other vehicles moving in the opposite direction from appearing in my frame. I knew that it would take something like 10 or 15 seconds for the shot, but the speed of the vehicles was a little variable.

You will certainly need to use a tripod for very long exposures, and a cable release is also very handy. Canon remote releases that connect with a wire to the camera have a running lock, that locks the shutter open, until the lock is released. The TC-80N3 timer controller has a timing module that can time the bulb exposure for you to the nearest second. This is ideal if you need a specific shutter open time. Lastly if you connect your camera to the Camera Connect App, you will see the time increment on the smart phone screen while the shutter is held open.


#38 – Creating focus on your subject with Lightroom

When I process my photos in Lightroom, I use the radial adjustment tool with a preset to help create a subtle hotspot over the main subject in the frame. The works by darkening the surrounding area and also reducing the sharpness too.

create focus

These are the settings for my create focus adjustment brush preset. I use these with a radial adjustment in most cases, applying the adjustment to the area outside of the radial selection.create focus

This subtle adjustment darkens the surrounding area of the picture, making the subject brighter and what your eye is drawn to. As you can see I also reduce the sharpening, and add some noise. This adds a second focus to the owl in this case as it will be the sharpest element in the picture.

create focus

You can see the subtle change in the side-by-side photos above, the adjusted one is on the the right. It may not work for all subjects but it does help with many. You might think that this tip excludes you if you don’t have Lightroom, but most programs offer this kind of subtle adjustment, even DPP has selective adjustment to create a similar result.


Here’s a few more festive fifty tips

Festive fifty – day #18
Festive fifty – day #19
Festive fifty – day #22
Festive fifty – day #14

About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag