Let us add some creativity to our photography with some dreamy feelings or a completely different view on something, maybe a river or a car night adding the feeling of a slow effect, like time slowing down. What can we do to take our skills a little bit further? Enter, the slow shutter speeds. A technique used by loads of people to really add a different view on how you would normally see something.
The idea is basically this. Normally when we photograph outside in the daytime we may have a shutter speed between 1/200 or faster, maybe 1/2000. But what if we had a shutter speed of say, 2 seconds or even 30 seconds. The effect we get is all the small objects remain sharp and all the moving objects blur to create an image of a time period. For example, the photo below:
The effect is like a small mist forming over a calm sea. If the shutter speed was longer, the water mist would be more solid but the horizon light could become overexposed. The next example is drawing light trails. The same technique applies, long shutter speeds and a very stable camera (tripod).
On a normal DSLR camera in the daytime getting down to very slow shutter speeds needs practice and patience. Here are some settings to start with and try.
- Camera to Manual Mode
- ISO Locked at 100
- Aperture as small as it will go. Maybe up around f16/f22. We want to reduce all that light coming in.
- Find something that moves. A running tap possibly.
- Set your tripod up, aim and focus the camera.
- Press the shutter button down halfway to get the exposure reading, the exposure bar will show whether you need to increase or decrease the shutter speed.
Obviously, this will work indoors in low light, but what about outdoors in the middle of the day? This is where filters come in. These are little see-through plates that screw into the end of a lens to reduce the light coming in. The particular filter for this is called ‘Neutral Density Filter’ or just ND for short. These filters mean that shutter speeds can go well over 30 seconds, sometimes a few hours. But to start with, reduce the ISO right down and make the aperture as small as possible. This will force the shutter speed to be a lot longer.
TIPS on Slow Shutter-Speeds
- The camera needs to be stable, a reasonable tripod is fine but stable.
- Lock the ISO at 100 or lower is possible.
- Tiny aperture, up at the f16/f22 area.
- Aim for a shutter speed over 2 seconds
- Be aware of light. This can become very overexposed in the still part of the composition.
- Start at home with a low light area and maybe a swing light.
- Definitely, practice for this.
The last tip refers to practice but also patience. You will have loads of over-exposed and under-exposed photos, but when it comes together, the photo will look awesome.