Photography tip: Dragging your shutter

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I originally posted this over a year ago at The Idea Room.

In photography, a good photo is often determined by perfect sharpness. However, blurring the subject is a fun way to convey emotion.  You can achieve this by slowing down your camera’s shutter speed (a.k.a. dragging the shutter).  With a slowed down shutter, any movement will cause a blur in the final image.  Make sure that something is stationary so that your photo will have both sharpness and blur. Generally, the entire photo blurred can often be considered just bad photography.

Here is an example from a recent photo shoot:

I’ll tell you the do’s and don’ts of this process.

1. Stabilize your camera.  I didn’t have my tripod, so I got a stool and set my camera down.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot hold still enough in a situation like this.
2. Instruct some of the party to hold very very still (mom and dad)
3.  The other part of the group (kids) must move quickly to show that blur/movement.
4.  Slow your shutter waaay down.

My settings for this particular shot: ISO 100 f /16 ss 1/5 sec

I set my ISO at 100 because, well, it was bright outside.  Though we were in the shade, my test shot was SUPER bright.  Because I slowed my shutter way down to 1/5 of a second, I had to compensate by cranking my f-stop/aperture way up to f/16 to darker it up.

Here is my first test shot:

Can you see it?  It’s there–lots of white!  My settings were just a guess:  ISO 320 f/11 ss1.6 second

So then I fiddled a bit and got this:

ISO 100 f/32 1.3 sec.
Better, but too long.  I can barely see the kids.  I realized that I needed to speed up the shutter for that blur I wanted. My friend also moved and she isn’t supposed to be blurry.
Then I fiddled again
ISO 100 f/29 ss .6 sec
Mom and dad are nice and still, but I still want to see MORE of the kids.
And one last shot that I really like:
ISO 100 f/22 ss .4 sec
Here is a shot my friend Kristin took of my fam a few years ago near a moving train (I found out later my hubby was freaked out we were so close).
Now go have some fun dragging your shutter!  Stand on a road and get the motion of the cars going by, in front of a moving train, on a busy street full of people, while capturing a couple engaged in the moment…let me know if you do this so I can see!  To see more of this fam above and their family portraits at home, go here.
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