Slow Shutter Speed Photography
No one can hand-hold a camera steady at very slow shutter speeds. In this case, the photographer must find a way to steady the camera. Long exposures are almost a different kind of photography, as they require special equipment and even a new way of looking at a scene.
A tripod has been standard equipment for photographers since the beginning. Light, portable, and flexible, this three-legged device can be carried and positioned virtually anywhere. You can adjust each leg to accommodate almost any terrain, and a movable tripod head allows you to make fine adjustments to the camera's position. Tripod head movements include swiveling, tilting, and raising and lowering.
If a tripod is securely positioned, it is possible to take very slow exposures of many seconds, minutes, or even hours. These kinds of exposures are often quite useful for landscapes and architecture. See the color pages for shots of buildings at night taken with a tripod.
There are a number of different types of tripods to choose from:
Standard tripods: You can find a variety of tripods, from flimsy to robust, and there are a variety of adjustments available.
Tabletop tripods: These tripods are quite steady when positioned on a table or a bookshelf or a rock wall. You can carry these small tripods outside your camera case. A cable release, which screws into the shutter button and allows you to gently press a plunger at the end of a long cable to avoid moving the camera when the shutter is tripped, makes it easy to get that shot once your camera is set up.
Monopods: As the name suggests, a monopod has only one leg. Seasoned photographers use these because they allow maximum camera movement while providing some stability. These are often used in candid situations such as high school football games. However, the photographer must be careful to keep the camera steady, as the monopods do not have the stability of tripods. It is pointed at the end so it can be stuck into a soft surface, but the base is not broad enough to allow the monopod to stand independently.
This “bad” shot of a computer monitor was taken with a shutter speed that was too high. Use a slow shutter speed to get decent shots of a TV or computer monitor.
How do you take a fifteen-minute exposure?
You use the B setting (or bulb setting). This very basic control can expose your image for seconds, minutes, or hours. It opens the shutter and keeps it open until you release the shutter. To make an accurate exposure you will need to use your watch.