Today, lets take a look at slow shutter speed or long exposures. Again, I love to talk about gear, settings etc… However long exposures usually happen in my head before I even bring out the camera.
Interesting things happen when a slow shutter speed is used, and the camera is allowed to be left open for a time!
Take for example the image above. I walk by this tree often. One day, I was walking by and the tide was up. The moving water around the low hanging branches fascinated me . The challenge is how do I show this neat tree to people the way I see it in my head. Answer: Long exposure.
Slow shutter speed and Landscapes
Slow shutter speeds add extra dimension, the opportunity to show motion. Anything moving will smear and blur. The exciting part is that a unique image can be created by the decision on how long to leave the shutter open. As an example, the water in the above images, and the lights in the image below. In short, take a moment to consider what is drawing your attention. If indeed it is movement in the image, experiment with keeping the shutter open.
Settings and Gear
To begin with, a sturdy tripod is usually a must. When considering a tripod it is important to look at the weight rating. Weigh your gear with the heaviest lens, and double it. For example, if the complete set up weighs in at 7 pounds, choose a tripod with a 14 pound weight rating.
Second is a good neutral density filter. These are nifty! They allow the shutter to remain open by reducing the amount of light without changing the color of the light. These are available in many options from graded to variable.
In addition to the above, a remote shutter release is always handy. Any movement to your setup will cause blurring. Examples of things to watch out for: lens cap and keeper, camera strap, cords from shutter remote or external strobe. These are all things that the wind loves to get a hold of! Above all, keep the set up as sturdy as possible.
Slow shutter speeds: Where to start?
Look carefully at the subject matter. How is the area of interest moving? The above image of Palouse Falls is taken at 10 seconds. Moving water can be tricky as the highlights can easily loose detail becoming an unsightly blob. For cityscapes with moving vehicles, start at around 30 seconds, and adjust from there to get the image you are looking for.
Finally, and most importantly have fun and experiment! Slow shutter speeds force both the artist and the viewer to slow down and contemplate an image.
Thank you for visiting! Next topic: Vacation Photos!