Slow, Slower, Slowest

In normal photography a fast shutter speed is a normally a good thing. Faster is better.   Everything, everyone, everywhere in the shot is crisp and sharp.  Sometimes you must shoot with a high shutter speed to get a proper exposure.  In bright, harsh light,  even with apertures of f/22 or higher, you must shoot at 1/1000 or higher to avoid having your photos look like the cover of the White Album.

Of course the opposite is true in low light. Even with the aperture cranked wide open you have to lower the shutter speed dangerously below 100, even with the ISO raised as far as you dare.  If you are using a tripod its not too bad. If you’re hand holding your camera, you pray the image will be acceptably sharp. You’re also stuck with a relatively narrow depth of field which may not be ideal. Whichever situation, you are making a compromise. You’d rather shoot faster – or slower – but you just can’t.

But a slow shutter speed can be good. And slower can be better. I’m talking several seconds slow; even several minutes slow. Very, very, very slow…..

Take, for example, all those ubiquitous “slow water” shots. While you can get a nice effect at 1/30th, you create a magical capture at one second of exposure or more. Another cliche shot using a very slow shutter is car lights on a busy highway. A several second exposure produces lines of color made from the moving head or tail lights.

Then there’s lightning. I admit I used to be stupid enough to marvel there  were photographers so nimble with the shutter they could capture lightning flashes. I learned, of course, such captures are made by leaving the shutter open for a long, long time.

Although most slow shutter shots are taken in very low light, with the use of neutral density filters even regular daylight shots can be “slowed down”. One of my own slow shutter speed exposure of a Tremont waterfall was taken in late morning shunshine.

I’ve created a gallery of well done photographs taken with shutter speeds of four seconds to 135 minutes. In each case the use of a very slow exposure creates an original, pleasing effect.  Each gallery photo lists its shutter setting. Enjoy:

NOT SO FAST:  Slow Shutter Shots

Here’s a Flickr group of slow shutter captures.

This piece is a good explanation of exposure

What did you expect? Here’s one of my slow shutter ( 4 seconds) shots:

One Response to “Slow, Slower, Slowest”

  1. very educational and that picture looks fantastic

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