Cameras today can offer shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 sec. However gong slow – using an exposure of one second or more – can offer more creative options.
Subjects such as moving water or clouds will blur during a long exposure, producing images that convey motion with added visual interest.
There are two ways to generate a creatively long exposure; you can shoot in low light (at dawn or dusk), when the exposure is naturally long, or you can use a neutral density (ND) filter to lengthen the exposure.
These filters absorb light in various strengths, up to 15 stops, allowing you to create long exposures even in good daylight. Your camera’s TTL (through-the-lens) metering will normally compensate for the filter’s density, adjusting the exposure time automatically.
For this assignment, try shooting different things, such as people or vehicles, and experiment with different shutter speeds, using the ND filters of varying strengths.
Also, try different ISO settings to control the amount of movement recorded. What effects do you like best? Settle on your favourite subject and approach, and use them to create a portfolio of ‘Go Slow’ photographs.
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- Avoid Auto ISO when using ND filters or shooting in low light.
- A sturdy tripod is essential and triggering the shutter remotely will eliminate the risk of any camera shake; use a remote shutter release or set the camera’s self-timer.
- Focus and frame your shot before attaching the ND filter.
- Remote shutter release
- Neutral Density (ND) filters
- Smartphone app such as PhotoPills
- Many cameras have long exposure noice reduction, which is usually activated when exposure length exceeds eight seconds. This works by making a dark frame of the same duration as your exposure. Be aware that you will be unable to take photos while this is happening. The function can be switched off via the camera’s Setup menu.
- The longest automatic exposure for most cameras is 30 seconds. For exposures longer than this, you will need to select Bulb mode, which allows you to open the shutter for longer exposures.
- To help you calculate longer exposures using the ND filters, use a smartphone app such as PhotoPills.