Slowing Down the Shutter Speed

Slower shutter speeds can make or break a picture. More importantly, if you master it, you can make a picture look like a million bucks! Below are three ways to fine tune your slow shutter techniques. Let’s check them out!

Step 1: Let There Be Light

Light plays an important part in brightening up your pictures in ways you would never have imagined. But what normally happens is we often limit ourselves to the normal lighting we’re used to seeing. Therefore, the best advice is to set your camera down on a tripod for blur-free photos and then set the camera at a slow shutter speed so that you can manually get some movement on the lights in your scene. For that, you need to experiment with flashlights, rope lights, candles, torches, reading lights or any light source you have access to. One example is getting your subject to sit perfectly still in a completely dark room. Set the shutter as close as possible to the time it would take you to walk around their chair holding a candle (approximately eight seconds). That way, you light their face entirely by candlelight. Also, if you move too quickly around them, you’ll be able to capture the floating flame. Cool, huh?!

Step 2: Capture Motion

Sometimes it’s good to be off-focus and introduce a little bit of blur. It’s particularly great if you’re trying to capture motion blur. A sports scene or any action scene will benefit the most from motion blur. All you need to do is use a shutter speed slow enough to get the movement of the subject (their head, hands, feet or something they’re holding). Of course, you may want to use a tripod for that step. Also, in case you forget to capture the motion blur, Photoshop has a filter called Motion Blur, so you can recreate the effect if you missed it while taking the photograph.

Step 3: Turning Night into Day

Yes, that can be achieved on a full moon night. All you have to do is pick a place you like the most. It could be a beach, a mountain top or tower with great aerial views of the area. Or, it could even be a busy market place. Not only do you have the moonlight to compensate for lack of lighting, but you also have a slower shutter speed to let more light into your camera. The result? Almost daylight photos that capture a lot more detail than the usual night shot. If you’re taking a photo by the beach, the colors will appear more vibrant. Also, notice the dreamy look it gives to the moving water, rendering the waves almost like low lying clouds.

All of that can be done with the power of a slow shutter speed. Who knew?!

~ Zahid H. Javali