Whereas there is no fixed definition of what constitutes "long", the intent is to create a photo that somehow shows the effect of passing time, be it smoother waters or light trails. A 30-minute photo of a static object and surrounding cannot be distinguished from a short exposure, hence, the inclusion of motion is the main factor to add intrigue to long exposure photos. Images with exposure times of several minutes also tend to make moving people or dark objects disappear (because they are in any one spot for only a fraction of the exposure time), often adding a serene and otherworldly appearance to long exposure photos.
A long exposure photo of a watch in the dark. Note the appearance of the second hand as it rotates, showing that this was a 30-second exposure. The hour hand (which has only moved barely) is clear, while the minute hand is slightly blurry from a half a minute of movement.
When a scene includes both stationary and moving subjects (for example, a fixed street and moving cars or a camera within a car showing a fixed dashboard and moving scenery), a slow shutter speed can cause interesting effects, such as light trails.
Long exposures can blur moving water so it has mist-like qualities while keeping stationary objects like land and structures sharp.
Uploaded: Nov 15, 2015