Have you ever thought about experimenting with Shutter Speeds on your camera? You can achieve some interesting effects by using slower than normal shutter speeds. Unfortunately not all camera’s are able to do it but most SLR’s and higher end compact camera’s can.  You will need a tripod or stable surface to keep your camera nice and still.

You can achieve some very interesting patterns and effects by using slower shutter speeds than normally required to capture the action. Lower light conditions are usually required to achieve the slow shutter speed effects. The image above  was taken from a stair case at twilight in a large crowd.

 The lower light enabled me to use a slow shutter speed to blur the action. The faster movements are more blurred and ghost like and the movements not quite as fast, have slightly less blur to them.

You may have seen a similar technique used on photographs of moving water, such as a waterfall or stream. It can produce some very interesting dreamy looking effects.

The image to the right is a photo I did late in the afternoon of a small waterfall at a nearby park. I used a shutter speed of 15-30 seconds to create the effect of the softly blurred movement of the water. Because there is no movement in the rocks they remain nice and sharp.

You can also combine slower shutter speeds with a burst of flash to show both movement and capture detail in an image.

The following image is at a Christmas Concert at twilight. My son had a light up candle that had various colours within the light. We had a wonderful time experimenting with shutter speeds of around 1/10th of a second, and using a burst of flash to capture more than just the light trail.

The slower shutter speed enabled the light trail to be captured, and then a quick burst of flash allowed the image of my son at the end of the exposure to be nice and sharp. The light trail shows because it is brighter than the surroundings and it appears on the image first, with the darker elements needing the help of the flash to be seen on the image. The quick burst means it is nice and sharp.

You can do some wonderful light trails just using the slower exposure without the flash. Because the bright object such as this candle or sparklers is so much brighter than the surroundings, it makes a trail on your image leaving the rest of the exposure dark. Experimenting with shutter speeds is a lot of fun. I encourage you to do it, because it teaches you a lot about the effects of light on your images.
 

© Robyn Gough 2010, All Rights Reserved

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