Cars cruising on MRR2 as the sun slowly sets.

INSTEAD of selecting a shutter speed fast enough to stop motion and produce a sharp photo, some people choose a slow shutter speed to introduce “blurriness” into their photographs.

This type of photography is called the shutter speed photography and it allows you to be really creative with your pictures.

One can shoot light trails, do light painting, turn night into day or introduce motion blur to create a more interesting and dramatic photo.

There is no fixed definition to slow shutter speed as it varies according to the amount of light, the subject you are shooting and the kind of effect one wants to achieve.

However, I think that shutter speed lower than 1/30s can be considered slow.

Slow shutter creates ghost like effect on walking pedestrian, creating an interesting photo.

To create a slow shutter photo, switch to S or Tv (shutter priority) on your program dial and choose the right shutter speed to create the photos you want. However, it is best if you shoot in manual mode if you have a better understanding of shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

For compact camera users whose equipment do not have any of these three modes, switch to night scene – you can still somewhat achieve similar effect.

Here are some tips for slow shutter speed photography:

Slow shutter speed is able to smooth out water surface and create interesting reflections.

Interesting subject or location
It is best if there are moving elements in a slow shutter speed photo as that helps to enhance the “blurry” effect you often see with this style of photography.

Use a tripod
It is very difficult to hold your camera steady especially when you are shooting at shutter speeds lower than 1/30s. Hence, a tripod is a must when it comes to this kind of photography. Also, set up your tripod on a flat surface to ensure that your photo is horizontally balanced. If you do not have a tripod, set your camera on a flat surface instead.

Running water turns into silk like cloth when shot at slow shutter speed.

Small aperture value
Use a small aperture value (F8 to F22) for maximum depth of field. A small aperture value will also allow you to choose even slower shutter speeds for a properly exposed photo.

Low ISO value
Since you will be shooting with a tripod, there is no reason to shoot at high ISO value.
Choose a low ISO value for a clean image and even slower shutter speed.

Remote release or timer
Even though you are using a tripod, the slightest touch from your finger when you press your shutter button will create movement in your photo. It is best if you set your camera to a 10 second timer or use a remote release to control your camera from afar without touching your camera.

Mirror lock up
The flipping mirror mechanism is best switched off to prevent vibration since slow shutter speed photography is extremely sensitive, even to the slightest movement. By enabling mirror lock up, there is one less moving part to worry about. This is only applicable if you’re using DSLRs though.

Depending on how long you set your shutter speed, a lot of time is spent waiting for the
camera to capture the image. There are photographers who expose their cameras up to several hours, just to get one photo.
Sometimes, there are simply no cars or human subjects in your image to create the effect you want and you have to wait until the perfect opportunity comes along.
I once read about a photographer who spent almost three months shooting thousands of long exposure photos of his favourite city just to get it right.

Trial and error
Slow shutter speed photography – and photography in general – requires a lot of trial and error.
Some days, the weather is not too kind. Some days, the light is not right. Some days, the subject is not there. There are many possibilities that can ruin your slow shutter speed photo and you just have to keep trying.
That’s all the tips I have for you now, so pack your gear and get creative with slow shutter speed!

The writer blogs at and tweets at @jasonmumbles. Don’t forget to send him some of your best slow shutter speed photos.

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