What Are Five Tips for Slow Shutter Speed in Photography?


Quick Answer

A photographer maximizes the effectiveness of slow shutter speed by steadying the camera with a tripod, using a remote shutter release, timing the shot, contrasting stillness and movement, and manipulating darkness and light. Additionally, a photographer should realize that experimentation may be needed to find the best shutter speed for the situation.

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Full Answer

A tripod is essential to avoid unwanted blur when using slow shutter speeds. Although blur is sometimes a desired effect, the photographer needs to be in control of what part of the shot moves and what part doesn't. A remote cable or wireless shutter release enables the photographer to avoid the involuntary jerk when pushing the shutter button. Some shots need less than a second of exposure, while others need an hour or more. A shutter timer gives the photographer the precision needed for various effects.

Anything in motion during a slow shutter speed shot creates a blur, and this can be used to simulate movement and speed. For instance, panning to follow a car at slow shutter speed creates a sharp image of the car but a blurred background. In contrast, keeping the camera still during a racing scene creates a sharp foreground and background but makes a blur of the cars. Using contrasting darkness and light, especially at night, creates unusual effects. Shooting a night city scene from a bridge or tall building causes a ribbon or trail effect with the headlights and taillights of the cars. Leaving the shutter open for an hour or more while the camera is pointed at the stars causes the Earth's rotation to produce star trails.

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