Successful experiments in slow shutter speeds, handheld

Every now and then as photographers we just don’t have the light we could have hoped for.  The general rule of thumb is that your speed should at least equal your focal length (for a 50mm lens, at least a speed of 1/50 sec, etc), but sometimes your camera will tell you to expose for 1/30 sec or less; what to do then, push the film?  What if you’re in the middle of a roll?  If it’s just one stop you need, you might get away with underexposing without pushing.  However if not, you might just have to expose at a far slower speed than recommended.  Do you have a tripod on you?  No?  Then the choice is to either skip it or take a gamble and hope for the best.  I’ve become quite comfortable with doing this myself and it is my wish that people reading this will consider it as well.

All the above were taken with SLR cameras.  I’ve read that leaf-shutters are incredibly steady and one can get even slower shutter speeds.  I don’t have too many rangefinders and don’t use them often, but here’s one slow shot I like:
Rangefinder camera, 45mm lens taken with the Bulb speed.  Steadied against a tree

Then there are a few shots which have obvious blur.  They might not be razor-sharp images, but they turned out extremely well in my opinion, and I’m proud of the effect that they create:

Finally, a few failures on my part:

Overall though, I’ve been pretty successful with slow shutter speeds, enough that I don’t sweat it if my camera’s telling me I need more light and I’m already at 1/60.  I just let my breath out, hold steady, slowly pull (not jerk) the shutter release, and then move on.


3 thoughts on “Successful experiments in slow shutter speeds, handheld

  1. I’ve had some luck hand-holding down to 1/15 (on a 50mm lens) but I’ve not dared to go slower. I seem to have steady enough hands, so I’m fortunate. You seem to have steady hands too.

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