Happy T uesday!
Today, which I’m calling “T Setting T uesday,” we’ll both be learning a little something. I’ve studied and experimented with long exposure photography, but the T setting is a new term to me.
As I was reading John Freeman’s The Photographer’s Manual, I came to page 38, which talks about shutter speed. In a film camera, the shutter opens and closes to allow the film to be exposed to light. The longer the shutter is open, the more light is absorbed into the film. If it is open too long, you will be left with an image that is over exposed and will be too light when it is developed. In contrast, when you do not leave the shutter open long enough, you will be left with an image that is under exposed and will be too dark when it’s developed. Digital cameras mimic this process with digital magic (layman’s terms).
So what is a T setting and why is it relevant to exposure? The T setting is a setting that may be on your film or digital camera that allows your picture to be exposed to light for a long period of time. To use this setting, press and release the shutter release button, this will open the shutter until you press and release the shutter release button again. This is similar to the B setting, which opens the shutter when you press the shutter release button and closes the shutter when you release it.
For those of you who are like me and do not have this setting, you can simply adjust the shutter speed on your camera to be longer; point-and-shoots tend to have an automatically long exposure when in the dark, so just turn off your flash et voilà! Long exposure in the dark! We can improvise and pretend our long exposures qualify as the T setting.
So once you fiddle with your film or digital camera and set it to your T setting or makeshift T setting, you’re ready to get started! There are so many ways you can use long exposure to your advantage, like make running water appear softer, “paint” with light, and take the best fireworks shots, to name a few. You should definitely take a look at the Digital Photography School for more inspiration for your long exposure shots.
To prep for your long exposure shots, I recommend using a tripod or any stable surface on which you can rest your camera. This will ensure that the parts of the image that are not meant to be blurred are clear and crisp. Today, I’m going to show you how to achieve a picture like this:
This is a photo I took on my friend Claire’s birthday last year. The candles in her cake were sparklers so her and my other roommate made light hearts! This was taken with my point-and-shoot when the only light source emanated from the candles.
Here are simple steps you can take to create this effect with your point-and-shoot, DSLR, or film camera:
1. set your camera to your T, B, or other long exposure setting
2. place your camera on a tripod or a stable surface and point the camera in the
3. give your friends some sparklers (with parental supervision if necessary), flashlights, or any other light source that is bright and that they can move around quickly (I wouldn’t recommend candles because the flame is small and can blow out easily)
4. turn off the lights
5. press the shutter release button and have your friends move the light source around in any shape or pattern- the possibilities are endless!
Keep in mind that whatever you or your friends “draw” will come up reversed. If they wish to write their name and can’t do it backwards, you can always flip the image with any photo editor, but, if you’re doing film, you’ll have to remember to print the image backwards.
I hope you all have fun doing this and using your imagination to create your glow-in-the-dark fantasies from the second installment in my week of words series.