New to photography, experimenting with slow shutter speeds.


TPF Noob!
Sep 6, 2010
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Hello, I recently brought out my Dad's old SLR and have been experimenting with different techniques. Yesterday I set up my camera on a tripod and, using a cable release, opened the shutter for a few seconds. While the picture was being taken, I had someone walk over and sit on a bench that was in the photo. My intention was to create some sort of ghosting effect of the person's movement. The problem is, I think I may have over-exposed the film by opening the shutter for so long during the day, and this may result in a bleached out/white photograph. However, this was not taken in direct/bright sunlight. Any input/advice on this type of slow-shutter-speed photography would be appreciated, as I am new to this camera.
make the aperture smaller. You are letting too much light.
If stopping down (smaller aperture, bigger f/#) isn't enough, you may need a ND filter. Or wait for the light to be better (darker).
:thumbup: Sometimes I cant even do a silky effect on a waterfall because it is too bright.

If stopping down (smaller aperture, bigger f/#) isn't enough, you may need a ND filter. Or wait for the light to be better (darker).
Okay, I'll try raising the aperture and see if I get better results. Assuming the lighting situation isn't a problem, would you say that this technique would work out well?
Zach... I'm a beginner and never used a film SLR. On today's DSLR you can meter it and it will tell you whether something will be properly exposed with shutter speed, aperture and iso combination. I assume a newer film SLR would have similar feature.
Sounds like you'd do better to work near twilight time...or purchase a very dark,dense Neutral Density Filter, which would allow you to use a small aperture, like f/16 AND exposures in the 10 to 45 second range. Most modern films and digital cameras have very high base ISO levels, making it ewxceptionally hard NOT to over-expose scenes unless very dark,dense Neutral Density filters are threaded on in front of the lens.

Kodak made a full-frame d-slr camera called the 14n, which had a low-low ISO auxillary setting of ISO 6 (yes, ISO SIX!), specifically for long exposure work.

There's a new fad called the ten stop Neutral Density a Google search on that.
Derrel, why do you think it is so hard to create a low ISO sensor? My 500D is only 100 ISO. My initial thought was it is all done under the firmware in the camera but obviously not.
Derrel, why do you think it is so hard to create a low ISO sensor? My 500D is only 100 ISO. My initial thought was it is all done under the firmware in the camera but obviously not.

I do not think it would be very difficult to create a sensor with a low base ISO, but that there just isn't much desire for a low base ISO...for "most" modern d-slr cameras, 100 to 200 ISO has been the base level. There have been some exceptions however; the FUji S1 Pro had a base ISO setting of ISO 320, which made it a huge PITA for outdoor fill-flash,since it was built on a really low-end Nikon body that had dismal flash synch speed.

You're right though: "ISO" levels in digital cameras are adjusted upward or downward in the camera's's not like film, where the image capture material actually "IS" more- or less-sensitive to light...boosting the ISO is really just turning up the gain...

Most camera companies seem to be shooting for ISO base levels of 100 to 200 these days...those speeds are pretty usable for flash indoors and out, and are not overly low, nor are they overly high, either of which could cause issues...the S1 Pro's base level ISO of 320 was a real PITA outdoors in bright sun when flash was needed!

A studio camera with a base level of ISO 50 is nice for people who have pro-level studio flash gear. A lot of older studio flash systems are quite powerful,and so a lower base ISO like 50 is really nice.
Derrel has you moving in the right direction! You might want to actually shoot either deep dusk or at night. Set your ISO at 100, your shutter at 15 or 30 seconds ( if you have street lamps illuminating your area, you might have to work with faster shutter speeds) and your F-stop at F8 or F5.6 Use either a hand flash, flash light beam or both. During the exposure, flash the bench empty from camera left then before the 15 seconds ends have your subject take his place and flash him from camera right. Make sure to have him wear dark clothing. You might play with doing the same with the flashlight beams by painting the light on him or both. Even try mixing them. The results will vary and you may need to adjust or bracket your aperture settings. Have fun!

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In daylight, non-direct sunlight, iso 100 film, at f22, a 2-3 second exposure would be overexposed by around 6 stops. Only the shadows in your shot will be visible, even at the smallest aperture. If you shot at a wider aperture your entire shot may be overexposed.
It sounds like this could be a really neat project, experimenting with different times in the evening, different lighting, darker clothing, etc. When I first started, I had no idea that aperture really mattered, but it looks like I'll be adjusting it a lot for these types of photographs. Do you really think a flashlight beam would show up well?
The downside is that I'm tempted to march on down to my local camera store right now, and purchase more rolls of film! I guess it will be rewarding, though, when I end up taking that really good shot, if you know what I mean. ;)
Thank you for your help!
There's always the pinhole camera ...
It will be a lot easier and cheaper if you experiment with a DSLR instead of a film SLR :)
Yeah, he could spend $1,000 for a DSLR and then have it do everything for him.

Imagine how much he'd learn about photography and how proud of himself he'd be. :greenpbl:

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