Slow Shutter Makes Long Exposures Easy

ghost cabs
Took this within minutes of trying out Slow Shutter - and it was the DCist Photo of the Day!

I heard about Slow Shutter from James Campbell, an iPhoneographer who I’m pretty sure has every iPhone photo app ever created. I was fascinated by the blurry, abstract long exposures that he had created with it.

I have a “real” camera, a Canon DSLR, that I could use to get long exposures. I’ve done so before, but it’s always a bit of trial and error, since I don’t create long exposures that often.

Slow Shutter and it's rather cryptic controls
Slow Shutter and it's rather cryptic controls

Slow Shutter has enabled me to get long exposures just with a click – the app is that easy. I downloaded it, played it with a bit (the controls are little cryptic), then went out into the street. I wanted a photo of cabs going by.

But the cabs weren’t going fast enough – they didn’t have the long lines I wanted. So, I went to another corner and waited for the stoplight to change. Taxis took off and I got my shot.

I ran the photo through Slow Shutter, adjusting the “freeze” until it was dreamy, blurry and ghostlike while still retaining enough of the scene to make it identifiable.

Then I used Instagram (best iPhone photo app ever) to crop it to a square, Polaroid format using the X-Pro II filter. The filter also vignetted the photo, something I always like.

Slow Shutter preferences
You can do a lot with these Slow Shutter preferences.

My dreamy cab shot made the DCist Photo of the Day. It’s one of those common urban scenes but with a slightly different, mysterious perspective.

Some photographers might look at Slow Shutter and say, “That’s cheating.”

My knowledge of f-stops and exposure times is, at best, limited. Just a few years ago you’d need fancy equipment, technical knowhow and darkroom experience to get such a shot. Now it can be done with just a click.

But what can’t be duplicated by technology is a good eye. Apps like Slow Shutter just make it easier for photographers to achieve their vision.

And like a good iPhone app, it’s also a lot of fun.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer and photographer from Washington, DC. He is the author of the mystery novel Murder on U Street, as well as articles, short stories and screenplays. In his spare time, he likes wandering about the city with a camera.

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