When your camera is on a tripod or an alternative support like HandlePod, it is important to avoid touching the camera to fire the shutter for long exposures. Pressing the shutter button can cause vibration and blurred photos even on a sturdy tripod. The quick solution is to set the timer to two seconds. This is enough time for vibrations to settle down. However, there are times when a two second delay is not desirable, fireworks for example. Two seconds is long enough to ruin the timing and miss the burst.
Long exposure situations that involve moving subjects require a remote shutter release to get the timing right. These devices are either wired or wireless RF or infra red. RF models have a transmitter and a receiver that connects to the camera. Infra red models activate a sensor on the camera. All DSLRs and many other cameras include remote release capability. Google offers an extensive list of remote release devices.
Wired modes can be more expensive and may include advanced features like shutter setting controls or even time lapse. However, you are limited by the length of the cable. Wireless infra red or RF units let you shoot from a reasonable distance. This is an advantage for self portraits. Click here for further information on remote release an reviews of devices.
A remote release is essential when using bulb mode. DSLRs and other advanced cameras usually offer a maximum timed shutter opening of thirty seconds. Longer exposures require the bulb mode in which the shutter stays open as long as the release is pressed. Some cameras open the shutter with one push of the button and close it when the button is pressed again. In any case you never want to touch the camera to open the shutter for long exposures, especially in bulb mode. It is best to use a remote shutter release.
A bit of history—the word “bulb” comes from a device invented around a hundred years ago. It was a rubber squeeze bulb attached by a rubber hose to a pneumatic plunger. When the bulb was squeezed, the plunger activated the shutter which stayed open until the bulb was released. The term “bulb” remains on digital cameras today.
For long exposure low light photography consider using a remote release when your camera is supported by HandlePod or any other camera stabilization device.