Slow Shutter Speed Photography

Slow shutter speed photography works two ways on your camera: it can be use to freeze motion so everything in the frame is nice and sharp; or it can be used to blur motion so some things in the frame will be blurred, giving the picture a unique look. You may be shaking your head at this; but sometimes I want to actually slow down my shutter speed to create blur in my image giving it somewhat of an artistic expression. These are images that probably don't exist in the real world as viewed through a pair of normal eyes; but with a slower shutter speed we can create beautiful artistic expressions that otherwise might have never been seen.

When taking slow shutter speed shots I sometimes use my shutter priority mode on my camera, which is the TV setting on my Canon Camera which stands for "time value" and I think it's the S setting on the Nikon Camera. And now with my camera in shutter priority mode I'm going to slow my shutter speed down to a 15th of a second to start with; and depending on; if you're shooting in day light or dark you might have to tweak your f/stop a bit to get a more desired effect. In lower light situation or at night you want to keep the ISO as low as possible; like around 100 because the camera is actually letting more light in with the slower shutter speed. For different affects you might try using a zoom lens and zoom in and out while you take the shot.

What I like about slow shutter speed photography is getting the contrast between the things that are in motion and the things that are absolutely "still" in the same shot. This gives you some really neat images; like the rivers water flowing over the rocks which might give the water a harsh blur with a slower speed, but at the same time the landscape around the rives water will be in focus. You can make the moving water in a fountain look like glass by using a shutter speed of about two seconds or slower with a tripod attached to your camera. This will give your image a unique look of motion being blurred; and the fountain and scenery in sharp focus, as none moving elements would be. When I use the slower shutter speeds I often set the timer on the camera or I'll use my shutter release cable to eliminate any camera shake when pressing the shutter button. But using the shutter release cable, you may want to go to a manual focus to prevent the camera from refocusing and causing your image to be out of focus.

When it comes to night time shooting I always make sure I have my tripod: this will eliminate the camera shake you may get from slower shutter speeds, but also will help you achieve, the really neat shot of blurring light motion of passing cars. You can really get some neat shots at a four second shutter speed, and if you notice while in shutter priority mode the camera calculates what the approximate f/stop will be when you set you set the camera at a desired speed. And if you want to get more creative you can take those settings and switch your camera to manual and put those setting in manually and that will give you a starting point. You can also get some cool shots at night without the tripod by using maul mode shooting at 0.8 sec at an f/6.3 and moving the camera around as you shoot the picture.

Slow shutter speed photography is just another way to be creative with your camera while having a little fun with putting some blur in your photographs. Keeping an open mind with photographic creativity is what separates photographic art from a plain snapshot.

Article by Alan Slagle

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