Slowing down your shutter speed
Slowing down your shutter speed
Not every image has to be perfectly frozen in time and 100% sharp. Slowing your shutter speed down can add a sense of motion to the images and gives you just a raw sense of energy and excitement. When you are slowing down your shutter speed you are basically doing two things. One, you are not freezing the action any longer. Depending on your exact shutter speed and the speed of the action you are going to have a slight blur around your subjects or everything might be blurry. Dancing at the reception can always be a fun time to slow down your shutter speed and capture the motion of people on the dance floor.
You are also allowing more light to be captured on your cameras sensor. So if there are small candle lights in the background that are very dim, shooting with a longer exposure will allow those lights to be seen and start to glow in the shot.
There are some really creative ways to incorporate motion into your images by slowing down the shutter. The first way is to take that flash off your camera and capture the ambient light in the room. Here is a good exercise to do at an event after you already finished your must have shots done and have a few extra minutes. Depending on the amount of light in the room try starting with your ISO at 800 and the largest aperture (I love to shoot at 2.8 or lower). With your camera set to aperture priority see if there is enough light to shoot at 1/60 second. If your light meter in the camera says that will give you enough light then shoot a few frames at 1/60th. If that isn’t enough light then try to raise your ISO until you can shoot at 1/60th.
After you have a few frames shot then raise your aperture by one stop (which will drop your shutter speed down) and shoot a few more frames. Keep doing this until you have shot some frames that are over 1 second in length. When reviewing your shots compare the amount of blur you get in the shots at each stop, everyone has personal preferences as to how much blur and ambient light they like so keep shooting until you know what images you like and can use that setting as a starting point for your next shoot.
Another way to get creative slow shutter images is to use your flash just to freeze your subject but still shoot with a slow shutter speed to let the background light get exposed. Depending on how slow of a shutter speed you use (usually under 1/15sec) you will get a motion trail around your subjects as they move as well as some background blur. This can look really cool for dancing shots and add a lot of movement to the image while still freezing your subject so they are recognizable.
This image was taken at a wedding near the end of the reception. Everyone was having fun on the dance floor and I wanted some images that really captured the mood of that part of the night. I slowed my shutter down to 1/2 second and got out on the dance floor right in the middle of the action. I had one flash on camera set to bounce off the side wall. This flash was set to ETTL and powered down 2/3rds of a stop. The flash will freeze the subject so she is sharp. But the ambient background is exposed at 1/2 second and since I am not on a tripod you get those great light trails and movement in the image. To add to it I normally am purposefully not trying to hold the camera steady and moving around myself quite a bit.
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If you would like to see how I photograph wedding receptions with off camera lights, check out this post: Creative lighting for first dance photos.
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