Friday, August 17, 2007

Beyond the (A) Mode: Dragging the Shutter

This post will be the first in an occasional series that will give you some creative ideas for using your own Digital SLR or Point-and-Shoot camera. I know for a lot of people, turning that little dial on their camera past the "A"(auto) mode can be a little intimidating if you've never been there before, but doing so opens a lot of creative doors for a photographer.

One little trick that I love to play around with, especially when shooting indoors or in a darker environment, is called "dragging the shutter." This is basically when you decrease the shutter speed in your camera to get various blurring effects, while using your flash to illuminate the main subject so that they appear sharp. Here's an example of one that I shot at a wedding two weeks ago...

It is just a fun way to make your subject stand out, while giving the background extra energy and movement.

First you will need to find an appropriate place for this type of shot. An important part of getting this to work is making sure that your subject is backlit, that is, without any major light sources shining on them (from your perspective). The only source of light that you want to hit your subject directly is your flash. Any other lights shining directly them will cause them to appear blurred in the photo.

Next, you need to set up the camera.

Step 1: Set your camera to the "Tv" mode. This is also known as "shutter priority" mode. This mode will let you choose a precise shutter speed. Choose a shutter speed around 1/4 - 1/15 of a second.

Step 2: Turn on your flash.

Step 3: Compose your picture and snap away! You can make the blur effects more interesting by rotating, zooming, or panning the camera as you take the picture.

Now quit reading and go give it a shot!


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