Using a slow shutter speed allows you to achieve amazing results in photography. It is a slow shutter speed that can show the starry sky, and plumes from the lights in your photographs. That can turn water into steam, and make ghosts out of people. The most important thing in shooting with a long exposure is that static, frozen elements and objects must remain in the frame. Here are five ways to use slow shutter speed to get great photos.
1. Plumes of Lights
To capture the plumes from the lights, it is better to shoot at dusk or night. Since the brightness of daylight negates the light from any artificial light source. Any moving light source, whether it be headlights or lanterns, fire, etc… will give a trail in the frame when using a slow shutter speed. Find a scene in which the movement of the light source will occur. Compose your shot using one of the composition rules and start shooting. The camera must be mounted on a tripod. Be sure to turn off the image stabilizer on your lens or camera, if you have one.
It is worth turning off the stabilizer during any shooting from a tripod, otherwise, the slightest breath of wind will make the stabilizer work, introducing shake into the frame.
Camera Settings. ISO, in this case, you need to set the minimum. It is better to shoot in RAW format so that later there is a large margin of strength in post-processing. You can shoot with long exposure in different modes. But if you are not very familiar with the camera yet, then you should start with the shutter priority mode, which is designated as S or TV.
Depending on the ambient light, select the desired shutter speed. As a rule, exposures of one second or longer are enough to show long trails of light. The camera will set the aperture itself according to the metering. Take more shots with different shutter speeds to understand at what shutter speed the trail will turn out to be more interesting.
Where to Remove the Loops?: Near a busy highway, at a fire show, in an amusement park.
Do not forget that light trails are just an element that enhances the scene. Remember the composition of the frame.
2. Water Dynamics
Another interesting use of long exposure is turning water into steam. This type of shooting with a long exposure can be done both in low light and during the day. But for daylight shooting, we need a darkening ND filter. This filter reduces the amount of light entering the sensor through the lens. Therefore, the camera will assume that it is night. And that needs a slower shutter speed to properly expose the frame. ND filters come in different degrees of darkening or, as they say, different densities. The degree of darkening is measured in exposure steps or stops.
Each step or stop of the ND filter attenuates the light entering the camera’s matrix by exactly two times. Here is what the marking of each filter ND2, ND8 means:
- 1 Step = 2 =ND2 (light attenuation by 2 times)
- 2 Steps \u003d 2×2 \u003d 4 \u003d ND4 (light attenuation 4 times)
- 3 Steps = 2x2x2=8 = ND8 (light attenuation 8 times)
- 4 Steps = 2x2x2x2=16=ND16 (light attenuation 16 times)
- 10 Steps = 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2=1024 =ND1024 (light attenuation 1024 times)
What to Shoot?: Fountains, waterfalls, streams, sea surf, etc…
3. Ghost People
Use moving people and slow shutter speeds to capture interesting shots. In places where there are a lot of passers-by, you can get interesting shots. To do this, you need to blur them with a slow shutter speed, but it is better to leave one person sharp. Simply place your assistant in a crowded area, such as at a pedestrian crossing or near an exit from public transport, and ask him to stop. Such a contrast of blurry people in motion and one frozen it will allow you to get excellent shots.
Also, motion-blurred people can be used to enhance landscapes. For example, I got such a dramatic cityscape.
Where to Film? Pedestrian crossings, public transport stations, subways, and similar crowded places.
4. Shooting with Panning
To show the dynamics of a moving object allows a wonderful technique of shooting with wiring or otherwise – the panning technique. The point of the technique is to guide the camera behind a moving object while the shutter is open. This means that you capture a moving object in the frame, press the shutter button, and follow the object along the way.
Here, as a rule, shutter speeds no longer than two seconds are used. In most cases, a shorter exposure is sufficient. Often shooting with panning can be done handheld, the main thing is to follow a moving object as evenly as possible in one plane without jerking up or down.
5. Shooting the Starry Sky
Shooting the starry sky is divided into two types. Shooting static stars and shooting trails from stars. There are many methods for both types. I’ll tell you about the most popular.
A – Shooting Static Stars
It is important here that the stars remain dots as we see them with our own eyes. To do this, we need to calculate the required shutter speed. And it will depend on the focal length that we will use. I hope everyone understands that due to the rotation of the earth, the stars float across the sky. So we need to catch that period at which their movement will not be reflected or will be reflected a small extent in the final image.
To do this, we use the rule of 600. To calculate the shutter speed at which the stars remain dots, we need to divide 600 by the focal length of the lens with which we will work. For example, we are using a 14mm lens, which means that the maximum shutter speed we can use will be 600/14~42 seconds. And then everything will depend on your camera and lens aperture.
You will have to use ISO within 2000-6000 units. If your camera allows you to shoot at such ISO with non-critical noise, then great. If the noise is very noticeable, then you can use software solutions such as DXO PureRAW 2, which allow you to minimize the noise in the RAW file. Or shoot a series of frames of 5-10 pieces, and then reduce the noise using the median addition method in programs such as a sequencer.
The second method allows you to deal well with noise even when using amateur cameras and slow lenses.
B – Shooting Star Trails
Everything is a little different here. We use ISO between 100-800. The aperture can be covered up to f/6.3-f/13 and shot with shutter speeds of 30 minutes or longer. Or use the method I described above. Shoot stars in dots, but in a series of 50 pieces, and then all this can be glued together in the same sequencer and get trails. But here you need an intervalometer remote control that can open the shutter for the right time without pauses in the shooting.
Where to film? If you want the Milky Way in the frame, it’s best to move out of town where there is no light pollution from the city. Also, the night should be moonless. In addition, the visibility of the Milky Way will depend on the time of year and your geographic location. To detect it, you can use one of the many applications for your smartphone, such as SkyGuide.
Remember that the starry sky is just a beautiful background. Don’t forget to build an attractive scene using composition rules.
Using a slow shutter speed will help you get amazing shots. These are far from all tricks with a long exposure. I’ve only taken apart the ones that I use all the time.