Rad A. Drew Photography: Create Long Exposure Images with Live Mode in the Native Camera While Handholding Your iPhone

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Create Long Exposure Images with Live Mode in the Native Camera While Handholding Your iPhone


iPhone 13 Pro Max, Native Camera Live Mode 

Until recently making long exposures of moving water like the ones in this blog could only be done with a "big" camera, a tripod, and often, a neutral density filter to limit the light during a long exposure. 

No more!

All of the images on this page were made handholding various iPhones and using the Native camera's Live Mode. (See Examples below)

Characteristics of Apple's Live Mode

Live mode is part of the Native camera, so it requires no additional apps (so no added expense) and produces a JPEG file (or HEIF file depending on how you've set the default in your camera settings). 

However, Live Mode will not produce a RAW file. 


If you prefer working with RAW files as I do, there is a Lightroom Mobile option that allows you to create long exposure photos in RAW file format! I like the added creative control a RAW file affords when processing and the ability to print larger with integrity. I'll be doing a webinar on the topic on Monday. Follow this link for details and registration: Webinar on Lightroom Mobile Magic on Monday, May 23!}

And, you don't need the latest iPhone to use Live Mode. It's available on almost all iPhones. The image examples below feature photos made with the 7 Plus, 10XS Max, as well as the 13 Pro Max.

Generally, the later the iPhone version, the better the technology (larger sensor, bionic chip, etc.) and the better the image may be technically, but the earlier iPhones do great job creating Long Exposure photos. 

How to Create Long Exposure Photos in the Native Camera's Live Mode

To make a long exposure with the iPhone's Native camera follow these steps:

  1. Open the Native camera by tapping the icon: 

  2. Tap the "bullseye" icon to turn on Live Mode

  3. Hold the camera steady while taping the shutter button.

Notice when you turn on Live Mode (above), RAW is turned off. (This is only on the iPhone 12 and 13 models that have ProRAW). The yellow live button flashes on the screen and disappears. The only way you know Live mode is on, is to notice that there is no line through the Live Mode icon.

Next locate and open the image in the camera roll. At the top of the screen you'll see the label Live

Tap Live to reveal a menu of options, with Long Exposure at the end of the list:

Tap Long Exposure and your image will be transformed into a long exposure photo:

That's all there is to it! Take a look at the examples below made with various iPhones as far back as the 7 Plus. 

If you have any questions about the content here, I invite you to email me here


Examples of Native Camera 

Live Mode Photos

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone XS Max

iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max

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