Certain photos can be improved drastically by using a slow shutter speed (long shutter speed) technique. when you have moving water or moving clouds in your picture. You can create a nice blurred effect to these parts of the photo, while other parts of the photo will remain steady to anchor the photo.
In this tutorial, I will list some of the slow shutter speed ideas, and discuss the suitable gear to be used, and its proper settings.
The right gear for Slow Shutter Speed Photography
Be prepared by picking up the right gear for shooting, knowing that most of your shots will be taken in a low-light environment. The following gear is what you need:
- Camera: any digital camera that is capable of shooting in manual mode and is able to adjust the settings of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.
- Wide-angle lens: Pack a wide-angle lens for the maximum amount of view from your vantage point. A wide-angle lens lets you capture more in the frame, so you don’t miss anything.
- Tripod: a tripod is the number one piece of equipment you need to shoot long shutter speed photography. It helps reduce camera shake and provides stability for your shots. The more stabilized your camera is, the less likely it is that your images will turn out blurry.
- Shutter remote: The remote shutter lets you control your camera’s shutter from a distance. It helps reduce camera shake and limit blurry images.
- ND Filter: an ND filter, or neutral-density filter, is a semi-transparent piece of glass that could be mounted in front of your lens. The filter prevents a certain amount of incoming light from passing to the optical sensor. In the case of shooting light trail photography, when using an ND filter, you can use a longer shutter speed than otherwise possible to soften the appearance of turbulent water and blur the moving water in a waterfall. It might come in handy when you want to reduce how much light is coming into your camera so that you can use a longer shutter without overexposing your photo.
Camera setting basics to capture long shutter speed
Understanding how to adjust your camera settings of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed is essential to capture long shutter speed photography. In addition, to be able to manipulate these three elements of the exposure triangle, you have to use the Manual mode in your camera.
- ISO is a measure of the light sensitivity of the digital sensor of your cameras. The higher the ISO, the more light a camera captures. Most modern cameras have ISO settings that range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600 while other cameras may have even higher ISO options. Try to keep your ISO as low as possible to avoid adding noise to your image.
- Shutter speed is the amount of time a camera’s shutter remains open to let light pass through the lens to the camera sensor. Shutter speeds range from thousandths of a second to many seconds or minutes. Slow Shutter Speed photography favors shutter speeds between 5 and 60 seconds, or more.
- Aperture controls how much light your lens lets in the camera. The aperture is also called an f-stop and is labeled on cameras with measurements like f/8 or f/22. A favorable aperture setting for long shutter speed photography is typically about an f/16.
Slow shutter speed Guide
The below list shows shutter speeds guideline for some shooting scenarios:
Fireworks: 2-4 sec
Blurring water: 1-5 sec
Stars trails: 20-30 sec
Light trails: 8-30 sec
Slow Shutter Speed Photography Ideas
A slow shutter speed photography needs careful planning before actually taking the shot. To catch amazing silky clouds you need to watch out for the weather to select the right day. Also, you need a totally dark sky when planning to shoot star trails.
Generally, an optimal time to shoot light trail photography is during blue hour. Blue hour bumps right up against the popular golden hour (the time at night right before sunset). Blue hour is the time between sunset and nightfall when shades of blue appear in the sky, as the sun is far enough below the horizon to cause blue shades of light to illuminate the sky. Low-light sources are visible during blue hour, but it’s not so deep into the night that it shrouds your whole scene in darkness,
The following are some ideas to take amazing photos with a slow shutter speed:
1- LIGHT TRAILS
Photo by Sơn Bờm
Light trail photography is an interesting and special type of photography because you’re able to depict something that isn’t actually real in any one instant.
Car light trail images capture the paths of illumination created by the headlights or taillights of a vehicle. Light trail photography creates art from moving lights; it is a type of long exposure photography that highlights the movement of light.
By keeping the camera shutter open for a long period, you can collect more light and show how that light moves across the frame.
Photo by Rudolf Kirchner
Photo by Andrei Photo
2- SILKY WATERF ALLS & SEA SCENES
Photo by Zukiman Mohamad
In order to make the water look silky and smooth, you need to use slower shutter speeds to show the movement of the waterfall. When you use a slow shutter speed, perhaps around 1-2 seconds, all of the water that moves during that time will blur itself onto the sensor. That’s what creates the silky look.
You need to try different speed settings in manual mode until you find something you like, you also need to consider the size of the cascades. If it’s a large, forceful waterfall, you can use shutter speeds like 0.5 seconds to start with. If you’re shooting waterfalls that are smaller or without as much flow, use a longer shutter speed like 5 seconds, and see how it looks.
Further reading: Photographing Waterfall Tutorial- Tips & Equipment You Should Use
Photo by NADExRioTic
Photo by Anastasia
3- SILKY CLOUDS
If you get to witness a sunrise or a sunset with puffy, stormy clouds that are lit up from underneath with colorful sun rays, creating a fiery view, including the clouds in your photographs would make the scene appear much more colorful and alive.
In fact, clouds can be so beautiful, that they could become the main element of composition in your photographs.
There is no magic formula for the shutter speed, as clouds move at different speeds according to the wind speeds, and their latitude.
Using a polarizing filter can help separate the clouds from the sky and darken the sky. Just attach the polarizing filter in front of your lens, then rotate it until you see the effect in the viewfinder. At the right angle, a polarizing filter can make a huge difference and make clouds really “pop” from the sky, by blocking certain light waves from entering the lens. If you are new to photography and want to read up more on using different types of filters, check out my article on lens filters.
Photo by Pixabay
4- Motion Blur
Photo by Felix Büsselmann
Motion blur is a long exposure photography technique that lets you convey the feeling of movement or action in a still image. Whether you want to create a sense of speed with a high-speed train or capture the abstract look of people crossing a busy intersection, motion blur lets you create a photo in a way that lets you express a new perspective on reality.
When photographing objects in fast motion, such as trains, the blur can turn the lights on the moving object into beautiful streaks of color.
Motion blur doesn’t blur the entire frame, it blurs the moving object only and leaves the main subject in focus.
Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Thgusstavo Santana
Panning is another way to depict motion in a shot. It is the opposite of the motion blur mentioned in the last paragraph. Rather than steady your shot with a tripod and blur an object in motion, use the panning technique to move your camera with the subject and freeze it in focus against a blurred background. Ideally, the subjects will be sharply defined against what looks to be a blurry moving background.
For a good panning shot, the camera should match speed with the subject and move as they do. Having the shutter open longer is key to getting a nice motion blur. A shutter speed of about 1/30 to 1/80 of a second may be adequate. While that’s not a lot of time in human terms, it makes a great difference for the equipment. This exposes the sensor to light longer. It also gives a moving camera time to capture motion.
Shooting panning needs a lot of practice to match the speed of the subject, so try first at slow-moving subjects.
Photo by Dmitriy Tarasenko
Photo by Philipp Fahlbusch
6- STAR TRAILS
Photo by Alexey Chudin
Star trails photography is Capturing the apparent movement of stars across the sky as the Earth rotates, it can give you surreal and compelling images. Longer exposure times give longer star trails.
You may use a very long shutter speed (long enough to register some noticeable star movement; at least 30 minutes). When photographing stars under one exposure, you need to do it during a new moon night (completely dark sky)
Further reading: Milky Way Photography Tips
Photo by Ehab Amin
Photo by Ehab Amin
7- LIGHT PAINTING
This technique is called light painting, painting with light, or light drawing. Since the 1880s the technique is used for both scientific and artistic purposes, as well as in commercial photography.
A light painting photographer opens a camera’s shutter and keeps it open as they draw in the air with a light source. Painting with light is a popular photographic activity mostly because it is fairly easy to achieve great results, requires little specialist equipment and you can get some really interesting results.
Besides the required gear for long shutter speed photography listed earlier in this post, a light source is required, this can be a wireless flash, torch, led tubes, or anything that emits a bright light. The more variations in size and color of the light source the better.
Further reading: Light Painting Photography Technique
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article, in case you have any questions just drop them below & I will be happy to answer you.
The featured Photo by igovar
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