Banakas | Photography

This shot was taken using a NIKON D5000 at ISO 100, f/8, for 5.30sec

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the camera setting that controls amount of time that the shutter of your camera is open. An open shutter (or curtain) is what allows the light of your subject to be exposed to the sensors (or film) within the camera. Without a proper shutter speed, your images will be either too dark or too light.

When you are out watching a fireworks show, you do not see the fireworks in the same way that you see them in an image. Typically, based on the type of firework, our eyes only see the blue, red, yellow, etc… ember that is flying through the air. We don’t see the “trail” that you see in most images of fireworks. But, because of a long shutter speed, this image used a shutter speed of 5.3 seconds, I was able to capture the “motion” of that colorful ember as it soars through the sky. Thus creating the image that you see above.

When shooting with long shutter speed, it is important, almost necessary, to shoot with a tripod. And, since you are using a tripod, set your ISO to it’s lowest setting, to help reduce the amount of noise your receive. The longer your shutter is open, the noisier your images will turn out. The higher your ISO, again, the noisier your images will be, so to help prevent noisy images, keep your ISO low when shooting with a tripod and outdoors. Your images will thank you for it.

These tips are not only helpful for shooting fireworks, which really only happen a few times a year, but can also be helpful for creating some other special effects, such as star trails, car-light trails, or even “flashlight art” (taking a flashlight and “drawing” an image in the air so the photo is being taken).

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