Triggertrap Long Exposure HDR Tutorial

The Triggertrap Mobile, including the associated dongle and cable, together form a remote control to operate your SLR camera using a smartphone ( iOS or Android). Triggertrap supports more than 300 camera models and the App has more features over other smartphone camera remote control. Normally, when you do long exposures without any remote, your camera is limited to 30 secs. Some other brands have a limit of 1 minute. For Long Exposure HDR, you often need more then 30 secs to capture all your brackets. For example: When your basic exposure is 20 secs, your +2 exposure will be 80 secs. To get this exposure, you can put your camera in bulb mode and keep track of the exposure with a stopwatch. Most people will use the stopwatch on their smartphone to do this.

Wait a minute…..you’re taking a picture and holding your smartphone to make sure you have the correct exposure time. Wouldn’t it be great to have the phone control the camera and stop the exposure at the correct time? This is exactly what Triggertrap does.

 ttcables

Below you can see a set of brackets taken with Triggertrap in LE HDR mode. The 3rd image is my middle exposure. The Triggertrap app asks for your middle exposure time to calculate the other exposure times, depending on the amount of brackets you want and with the exposure steps you have set in the app.

brackets

To get the right exposure you need to check your camera’s histogram. When using the histogram, you can check that you have captured all tonal values. Normally when you do night photography, the in build camera lightmeter doesn’t work well. It will calculate a faster shutter speed, resulting in a slightly under exposed photo.

Correct your shutter speed

When you use Triggertrap LE HDR, your camera should be in bulb mode and in manual focus, but before we set the camera in bulb, we need to find out the correct shutter speed (Exposure time). For this we keep the camera in M-mode and check the light meter on the LCD or in the ocular. Make sure you don’t use spot metering, but instead, set your camera to matrix metering. 

Turn your dial for the shutter speed so that the light meter reads “0”. We know already that this will give us a under exposed photo, so we keep turning the dial until we are 2/3 or 1 stop over exposed. This works great when the shutter speed is 15 secs or less. Let’s say we have a shutter speed of 20 secs and the light meter is in the middle. We need to over expose 1 stop to get all the tonal values inside the histogram. Turning the dial won’t help because it stops at 30 secs. Now we need to do a little math to find our base exposure.

For every stop we need to over expose, we need to double the exposure time. So, 20 secs will become 20 x 2 = 40 secs. To under expose 1 stop, we need to divide the exposure time by 2.

Next step is to set the camera in bulb mode, turn on the live view and start focusing. Remember that when you use Triggertrap, that the camera needs to be in manual focus. By using Live View focusing, we can get sharp images when the autofocus fails to focus due to low light conditions. Now that we are focused and the composition is set, we are ready to dial in the values in the Triggertrap app.

For this example the values are as follows:

FullSizeRender
  1. Dial in the middle exposure – (40 secs)
  2. Set your number of exposures – (5)
  3. Set your prefered EV step – (1)

This will result in 5 bracketed exposures:
10, 20, 40, 80 and 160 secs.

When your shutter speeds are getting to long, you can always increase your ISO. Keep in mind that the fastest shutter speed, when using Triggertrap in bulb mode, is 1/16 sec.

zaanse schans

The final edited photo

If you don’t have Triggertrap yet, you can find out if your camera is supported by using the cable selector here.

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Michiel
Photographer at Behind The Lenscap

Michiel Buijse is a land- and cityscape photographer based in The Netherlands. He is a Nikon ambassador. Michiel also gives photography and post processing workshops.


Michiel

Michiel Buijse is a land- and cityscape photographer based in The Netherlands. He is a Nikon ambassador. Michiel also gives photography and post processing workshops.

104 gedachten over “Triggertrap Long Exposure HDR Tutorial

  • november 1, 2014 om 4:39 pm
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    Thanks! Just bought one based on your tutorial and the endless possibilties…

  • november 3, 2014 om 2:53 pm
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    Thanks a lot Haje Jan, I just love the endless possibilities in Triggertrap!!

  • november 3, 2014 om 8:28 pm
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    thank you for a great tutorial, really well explained. I'd love to see a follow up article on how you process the five images to get your final brilliant image. Triggertrap is certainly very versatile

  • november 3, 2014 om 10:30 pm
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    Nice article! How do you get around Long Exposure Noise Reduction when using Triggertrap?

  • november 4, 2014 om 9:16 am
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    Thank you Garry, I turn LE Noise reduction off, otherwise the times keeps counting down before all your shots are taken. I prefer to do noise reduction during post.

  • december 4, 2014 om 1:46 pm
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    Michiel, do I understand correctly that the triggertrap allows you to create more exposures then your basic camera setting normally would allow? e.g. I am using an entry level camera (550D) which in bracketing mode would only allow 3 exposures, can this via triggertrap be overruled to e.g 5 exposures? Would love to know before I'll meet you in Amsterdam in Januari. (writting in English so non-dutch speaking can understand).

  • december 5, 2014 om 3:31 pm
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    Marco, with my my old D5100 I was able to take 3 brackets using the bracketing function on the camera. With Triggertrap you take brackets in bulb-mode. The app controls the camera shutter speed and you will be able to take more brackets. In the app you can choose up to 15 brackets if you want to. Normally I just take 5.

  • december 5, 2014 om 3:35 pm
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    Thanks, sounds like an easy decision to me. You'll see me with the triggertrap in Jan.

  • januari 17, 2015 om 5:08 pm
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    Michiel. do you push the button only1 time for 5 pictures and Triggertrap do the rest? By the way Maastricht is also a great Town for your Workshop haha.
    Thanks

  • februari 18, 2015 om 3:20 pm
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    Yes, John. It only needs one toch on the button to take all brackets. By the way, I'm in Maastricht on march 13 with the workshop.

  • mei 18, 2015 om 8:57 am
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    Hi Micheiel, very helpful info! thanks!

    i have a couple of questions.

    i was trying some long exposure shots with Lee big stopper yesterday.

    somehow the camera wasn't allowing triggertrap app to go beyond 30 seconds
    It was on Manual mode and was taking in values set in Manual mode.
    I was under the impression that the triggertrap app overrides the values set in Manual mode
    Should the camera be on Bulb mode??

    Also, there was a lot of noise on 25 second exposure shots.
    Had set ISO to 100 and needless to say cameravwas on a tripod.
    Is this a known issue?

  • juli 15, 2015 om 4:21 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Kiran, sorry about the late response. The camera has to be in bulb mode to make brackets with the Triggertrap app.
    And I don't know what caused the noise with a 25sec exposure on ISO100. Could be a sensor problem.

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