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, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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