BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Elizabeth  Pellette

How to Drag Your Shutter with Flash

I am shooting a wedding this weekend and a fellow photographer friend suggested that I shoot at f/9 and drag the shutter does that mean slow the shutter down a stop or two?

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3/9/2006 12:06:36 PM

Kerry L. Walker   Yes, it means to shoot at a slower speed than your normal sync. speed.

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3/9/2006 12:25:17 PM

Elizabeth  Pellette   Exactly what will that accomplish? Filling in the background with more detail?

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3/9/2006 12:31:43 PM

Kerry L. Walker   You will be allowing more ambient light in. This will help to keep the background from going too dark. I normally shoot at around 1/30 sec.

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3/9/2006 12:34:45 PM

Richard Wong   Dragging your shutter makes everything streaky with a motion effect. The flash lights the subject just enough to define it. Open any National Geographic article taken in the dark and you'll see this. Shoot on Aperture, or just set the manual on something like like 1/10 or less.

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3/9/2006 1:56:43 PM

Sherri McGee   Kerry, What lens do you use for weddings? Wouldn't we have to worry about camera shake using 1/30 sec.?

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3/9/2006 1:58:27 PM

Kerry L. Walker   I use 2 different lenses, a 75mm and a 150mm (medium format, normal and short tele). Whether you induce camera shake really depends on your ability to hold the camera steady. In a really dark venue, camera shake shouldn't be a problem as the true shutter speed you are using is actually the speed of the flash itself, which will normally range from 1/1000 sec. (at full burst) to around 1/50,000 sec. at minimum burst - depending on your flash. In a fairly well-lit venue where the exposure you are setting is pretty close to what is needed for a proper exposure w/o flash, you might want to bump your shutter speed up a little.
If, of course, you are wanting the effect that Richard mentioned (which I assume you don't at a wedding), you can induce it by shooting at a really slow speed and allowing some camera shake.

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3/9/2006 2:31:01 PM

Barbara Helgason
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2004
  This is very interesting Kerry, I never allow my shutter speed to go slower than 1/60 when hand holding the camera because of shake but you're saying that with the flash on, 1/60 is no longer the true shutter speed and I could go slower?

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3/14/2006 7:24:40 AM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  i had to shoot with a 50 at a concert wiht 1/15 and did alright. it all depends on your focal length. if you have a 24mm i'm sure 1/15 woudl be perfectly fine with sturdy hands and shoulders resting on your chest.

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3/14/2006 7:57:37 AM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2003
  The photographer who recommended dragging the shutter was probably not referring to creating motion blurred backgrounds (although that is one such use). He/she was probably referring to shooting the formal portraits at the church. Church lighting is usually somewhat low and a fast shutter speed such as 1/60Sec will cause the background to register too dark. Slowing the shutter speed to something like 1/15 @ f8 will allow the warm ambient light to register, making a much nicer portrait. As far as camera movement goes, I can't imagine doing these very important images without my camera on a sturdy tripod. Hope your wedding was a success.

God Bless,

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3/14/2006 6:17:52 PM

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