Step 1: The 101 of How Cameras See Light
If you actually want to understand so that you can do more advanced stuff later on, continue reading:
This is the most simplest way to explain how cameras see light.
When you take a photo in the middle of the day in full sun on automatic mode, the camera sounds like this: CLICK. And the photo will usually be clear and in focus. But if you take a photo at night, without a flash, the camera will sound like this: CLICK CLICK. And without a tripod, the photo will look blurred and unclear. The click sound is made by the shutter opening and closing. The reason you only hear one when the Sun is shining, is because the shutter is so quick, the opening and closing of the shutter join together and sound as one. But at night, the cameras shutter speed slows down. What this does, is allows more light to be absorbed by the camera and it can make a night time photo look as if it was taken in day.
What you are going to learn in this Instructable, is how to set the shutter speed at different lengths of time to create some impressive photos. Basically, you will learn how to manipulate how much light your camera lets in, and how to use it to your advantage.
Step 2: What You'll Need.
You'll also need a torch and a tripod, but if you don't have a tripod you can just use a solid surface that will balance your camera.
And you will need a completely dark place for this to work properly.
Step 3: Creative Blur: Light - What You Are Trying to Achieve
Step 4: Find a Dark Place
Step 5: Use a Tripod or Solid Surface!
Step 6: Set It in Timer Mode
If you are unsure how to do this, please read your instruction manual.
Step 7: Changing the Shutter Speed
If you just have a normal digital camera, try looking for a manual mode that allows you to change the shutter speed, but if you can't find one, you can use the 'fireworks' mode. The average 'shutter speed' of this mode is around 4 seconds. If you cannot find this as a mode on your camera, read through the instruction manual. You are looking for a mode that allows you to modify the 'shutter speed'.
An important note is that cameras have a universal second symbol for shutter speed. The inches symbol (") represents seconds. So don't get confused and think you are measuring the shutter speed in inches.
Step 8: Focusing
To make sure you capture the light clearly and not in a blur, turn your flash on and put your lens onto 'Auto Focus'. Get someone to stand about the same distance away from the camera as you are going to draw, and then half hold the cameras trigger button. This will make your camera trigger it's flash a few times and focus on the person. Now switch your lens back onto 'Manual Focus' and leave the focus alone. This will ensure that the main focus point is where you want it, and it will not change.
Step 9: Using the Flash....or Not
Please note that for most digital cameras, the camera won't allow you to use the flash in fireworks mode.
Step 10: Take the Photo!!!
The longer you hold the torch in one place, the brighter it will be in the end result.
You can try putting coloured cellophane on the end of the torch to create pictures!
Step 11: Using This in Nature
Step 12: For a Good Waterfall Shot...
The best waterfall shots will come just before the sun is rising, or after it sets. If you try a slow shutter speed when the sun is brighter, the photo will just turn out as a white blur.
To make the waterfall shot work the best, use a tripod and set the camera on a 1 or 2 second timer. This is just to ensure that you don't shake the camera as you push the capture button.
Step 13: For Good Fireworks or Any Other Light Source...
For fireworks to look good, or even car lights lights, set the shutter speed for around 4 seconds. The longer the shutter speed, the more firework or car light movement in the photo.
Make sure that the camera is not picking up too much other light from street lamps, or city offices. Or else it could ruin the photo.
In the above photo, you can see the red lines. These are actually the lights from the back of a car as it drove past. The problem with this photo is the lights on the left side. They are too bright and ruin the photo.
Make sure you watch out for this.