31+ Days Of Photography Experiments – Slow Shutter Speed And Bracing Your Camera

Raise your hand if you carry a tripod with you wherever you go? Okay, the five of you who do can ignore this post. The rest of you, here’s a chance to get more from your camera by bluring things in a good way, without a tripod.

There are many times when you want to show some blur in your photos but you failed to pack that bulky tripod. And to be honest there really isn’t much to it except practice. Let’s jump right into what you want to do.

Here’s the experiment you can run

1. Thinking it through and knowing you want to cause blur through a slow shutter speed, which shooting mode do you want to choose? There is no right answer and ideally you’ll keep your shutter speed constant. Also, what will your ISO be? (Hint: You may need to shoot in something other than full daylight) Try for a shutter speed around 1/6 of a second for good blur.

2. If need be, review How To Hold Your Camera to give you a good base.

3. Now that your base is set up, find something to brace with. Anything. Some examples I’ve used in the past: garbage can, boat railing, telephone pole, car hood, etc…

4. Before you shoot, you want to stack the odds in your favor. I’d suggest changing your frame rate over to continuous shooting so you can hold down the shutter and not cause more blur from individual presses of the  release.

5. Another hint: watch the focus points in your viewfinder or the back of your camera. Try to keep them covering the same object while you shoot. If you notice them wandering around too much, you’re moving too much and going to cause the non-moving items in your shot to blur as well. This is not what we want for this photo.


Fire away!


This experiment does not end here, even if this section is called Done. Practice is needed and repetition will be your best tutor. Also you need to judge the speed of the moving objects in your image. Are they close and moving fast or far away and moving seemingly slow? That will influence your chosen shutter speed and how much you need to brace.

My hope is learning to brace and shoot slow shutter speeds without a tripod will open up new shooting ideas and opportunities for you. There is a time for perfectly focused and static scenes. But there is also a time to include some blur and motion to liven your photo.

Let me know how you do! Add a link to your experiment in the comments section below.

31+ Days Of Photography Experiments is a series written by professional photographer Peter West Carey on The Carey Adventures.Com. The series is designed to unravel the mysteries of photography so you can take better pictures through practical experiments on the material found in 31+ Days To Better Photography. Subscribe here to receive all the updates and bonus material. Your comments are always welcome.

Leave a Reply