Join Seán Duggan for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring motion blur with Slow Shutter, part of Mobile Photography Weekly.
- Hey everybody, Sean here, and it's a beautiful afternoon, I'm out in this nice Southern California countryside here. And I wanna explore motion blur using an app called Slow Shutter Cam. Now this is an app for iOS, but there are many other apps both for iOS and Android that also offer long exposure or slow shutter speed capabilities. Definitely something you should check out, if you have not done so already because it gives you the opportunity to make some pretty cool images.
So what I've got set up here is a composition of, you know, this tree and this field here, in the background is an old antique combine. And what I wanna do is, there's a little bit of a breeze blowing through now and then. Is I wanna use a slow shutter speed to get the grasses moving back and forth, and maybe the bowels of the tree moving back and forth. Just to create an interesting little visual look to the image. So I'm gonna come into my app here, Slow Shutter Cam. And the first thing I wanna do is come into the settings, so I'll tap this little gear.
Now there are three modes here, motion blur, light trail, and low light. For this case, I'm gonna be using motion blur. And I've got two settings for my motion blur mode. I've got blur strength and shutter speed. So earlier the wind was a little bit more robust and energetic, now it's kinda calmed down a bit. But all I can do is increase my shutter speed, and shoot with a longer shutter speed and build it up. Cool thing about this app is that you don't have to worry about blowing out the exposure because it figures out what the exposure needs to be, so you don't have to worry about that.
So I'm gonna turn the shutter speed up to about 15 seconds. I can go all the way up to 60 seconds timed or I can shoot in bulb mode. And the cool thing about shooting with bulb mode in this app is you do not have to have your finger pressed down on the button the whole time or using a cable release like you would with a regular, more conventional camera. You just tap the button once to start it and then tap it again to turn it off. Alright, so I've got my shutter speed set to 15 seconds, I'm gonna set the blur strength up to very high.
Just to sort of really maximize the blur. And actually, since the wind has calmed down, I'm gonna go up to 30 seconds. I'm gonna be living on the edge, 30 seconds here. Close that little menu there. And I'll just tap the shutter button to start the exposure. The cool thing about this app is you can actually see the blur building up as the exposure renders. So that's one thing that I like about it because as it builds up, I can see how the different blur dynamic is affecting the shot, and I know if I got something that I like, or if I need to try and do it again.
Alright, so the wind has come up again, I'm gonna do another shot 'cause now it's, there we go, now this is the wind that I wanted. Oh, and I can really see the blur building up there. That is looking really nice. Yeah, now I'm getting some nice blur effect there. Mostly in the grasses there. But also a little bit in the trees. And then it saves the picture. Yeah, you can really see here, how that grass is blurred there. And again, it just, it adds a really interesting dynamic to a shot.
Alright, so that's working pretty good here in a daytime situation. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what I can do when I try this out at night. So it's nighttime now, obviously. Back after a day of exploring. And earlier in the afternoon, I was doing slow shutter speed and motion blur exposure, relying on the motion in the subject. The camera was immobilized on the tripod and I had those grasses blowing in the afternoon breeze. This time I'm gonna do something a little bit different. I'm going to be handholding the camera, I'm not gonna be on a tripod.
And I am going to be purposely moving the camera to paint with light. To paint with these lights here in the scene. So essentially what I'm doing is, I'm treating the phone camera here as a canvas, and my paintbrush is gonna be the subject. So as I move the phone during the exposure, I'm gonna be painting with the light in the scene. And I'm gonna be using a special mode that's gonna allow me to take advantage of light trails in the scene. So once again I'm gonna go into my Slow Shutter Cam app, the same one I was using earlier today.
And I'm gonna go into the little settings menu here. Again I've got the three modes, motion blur, light trail, and low light. In this case, I'm gonna be set to light trail. I'm gonna turn my light sensitivity up fairly high, up to about 1/4 there. And for my shutter speed, I'm gonna leave it at eight seconds for now. And the great thing about this, is I'll be able to see the effect of the blur and the motion trails building up as I make the exposure, and I can stop it at any time. So if eight seconds is too long, I can just stop it.
So that's good for now. Eight seconds, and I've got 1/4 there. I'm gonna close that, and what I'm gonna do is frame my shot here. Just try the first one. And I'm gonna pan up when I take the shot, so here we go. And I'll stop it there, just a few seconds. And you can see, that I've got this nice blur in there, we can still get the sense that there's windows there. And then we have these nice streaks of light. Now, unlike earlier today, I have a special workflow mode set up here, that actually shows me the picture after it's done and I get the opportunity to choose edit, save, or clear.
Now the cool thing about choosing edit, is that I can move this slider and it shows me the starting exposure and the ending exposure, and everything in between. So I can actually modulate this and decide, "Oh, I really like the way it looks like that." So after the fact I can kind of like modify the effect of the blur, and then once I like it, I can choose save. Save that out to the camera roll. And then tap done, and now I'm back here and now I can choose clear. And then again, clear capture.
So that option, if you're wondering, is in the menu here. It's in the workflow settings, and it's the default workflow. If I'm doing it where I don't need to see what the blur is looking like, I'll just use the auto save and clear. Where it just automatically just saves it to the camera roll and clears it, so I'm ready for the next exposure. So that's the mode I like to use when I'm kinda working faster. But for the light trails here, I really wanna see what's going on. Alright, so let's go back there, and we'll tap done. Alright, so for this one I'm just gonna rotate the camera that way, that looks pretty good.
And I'll stop it. And take a look at that. Yeah, that looks pretty cool. Very abstract, you know, very strange. But you know, sometimes these look pretty cool. And you can always process them and do some other things with them. I'm gonna save that one there. And I'll clear this one out. So another cool thing that you can do is you can have the camera on a tripod at night and then have lit elements moving through the scene. A common way to do that, it's pretty easy, is to photograph the taillights of passing cars.
Works really well if you can position yourself at a road where you can see the car kind of maybe going around a curve. It's less interesting if the car's just going straight by, right in front of you. But anyway, using long exposures, whether in the daytime or at night, is a really cool way to spice up your photography. Photograph something that you cannot see, the passage of time as represented by a moving blurred subject. It's a lot of fun, give it a try.