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Slow Shutter Speed Photography

by John Overmeyer

1. Low-light situations like interiors and night scenes

This is probably the most common use of long exposure to capture a scene. Use a camera on a tripod or stable base to capture as sharp an image as possible.


When shooting street scenes at night, be aware of the dynamic range of the scene. Multiple images may have to be taken at different exposure times and used in an HDR program or selectively blended, as in the above image, to get all the detail in the scene.

2. Panning

Panning at a relatively low shutter speed while following a moving subject can capture some subject sharpness and at the same time blur the background. The shutter speed that is best used is determined by the speed of the moving subject. The three following images were taken at 1/200th, 1/60th and 1/6th of a second.


3. Capturing motion blur with a fixed camera position

Smoothing waterfalls or moving water is a common use of this technique. Depending on the brightness of the scene, a neutral density filter maybe required to get the longer shutter speeds.


4. Shutter Drag

Shooting long exposures while moving or zooming can create some creative images.


5. Long exposures to capture light trails

Basically the same as #3, capturing motion blur, but capturing light in late evening or at night. This could be the capturing of car lights, fireworks, or swirling and moving lights.


6. Long exposures are also used in astral-photography

It is possible capture star trails or the Milky Way with just a camera, tripod and shutter release cable or controller.


7. Light Painting

In a dark room, objects can be lit creatively with a light source such as a small flashlight. Outdoor locations can also be lit with a good quality flashlight or LED strip light.

In the photo below, many 10-second exposures were taken. The images were then layered in Photoshop and layer blends mode lighten was used to produce this image.


Have a look at our Blue Hour and HDR Tutorial for some ideas as well.

If you have any questions, speak to John Overmeyer or John Strungat a meeting or e-mail them: jovermeyer1962@gmail.com or info@trilliumphotoclub.org