This is one of my favorite long exposures I’ve taken. You can see a larger version on my blog.
The Slower Shutter version 1.2 update is now available as a free update via the iTunes App Store. It took longer than I thought, but then again, this is my first app and I still have a lot to learn about iOS programming. Thanks for your patience.
The biggest part of this update that hung me up for so long was getting it so that the timer in Slower Shutter continued to run when the app was sent to the background.
Other features that were added in this release in addition to the background timer include:
- Local notifications added. This means that if the app is in the background or the phone is locked, you’ll get a notification when there are only 10 seconds remaining on your timer
- A preference has been added to allow you to choose between an audible alert or a vibration alert when the timer is up
- Instructions have been added. I probably should have done this from version 1.0, but they’re there now so hopefully that eliminates any confusion about where you’re supposed to come up with the Aperture and ISO.
- The status bar is now hidden while you’re in Slower Shutter. This is more of a personal preference on my part. I just didn’t like the way it looked and so I set it to be hidden now while the app is running.
- Did I mention that the countdown timer continues to run when the app is in the background?
Oh yeah, support for iOS 8 is in there as well. It should look just fine on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. I’ve seen it running on both and it looked good. Aside from the countdown timer, there aren’t any icons or other graphics in Slower Shutter. A couple of background images and text labels is all.
If you’re running Slower Shutter on an iPhone 4s, it works just fine. But I’m about to sell my iPhone 4s so this will be the last version that I test on a physical 3.5″ sized iPhone. I’ll run it in the simulator to make sure the UI looks okay, but I’d recommend getting an iPhone 5 or iPhone 6 soon if you’re like me and still using an iPhone 4s.
I could have made a few educated guesses about the right exposure time using the ND filter, but it was really helpful to have the Slower Shutter app to do that bit of thinking for me. Would it have been better if the Slower Shutter app could control the shutter too? Sure, but there are already plenty of ways to remotely trigger your shutter. This simple app did what it set out to do and saved me a bit of time in the process. Slower Shutter does have some room to grow, and one thing to keep in mind is that the countdown timer doesn’t work in the background if you switch apps.
A question that I’ve received a few times lately is “How do you use Slower Shutter?”
The confusion seems to stem from the fact that the app only asks you to input your base shutter speed and ND strength – and the folks asking me are used to taking the aperture and ISO into the exposure equation. It dawned on me that perhaps I was taking too much for granted and that others didn’t have my same approach to calculating a long exposure.
As such, here’s my suggestion for how Slower Shutter is intended to help you, followed by an example.
Step 1 – Establish your “base” shutter speed
You’ll first need to determine your shutter speed, aperture and ISO for your “normal” exposure. Remember these values. Do this WITHOUT the ND filter in front of your camera.
Step 2 – Calculate your new shutter speed
Go to the Slower Shutter app and enter your shutter speed from step 1.
Next, enter the strength of your neutral density filter. You will see the new shutter speed appear automatically under the circular countdown timer.
If this new shutter speed is 30 seconds or less, you should be able to set this on your camera in Manual mode. For ISO and Aperture, refer to the values from step 1 above.
If your new shutter speed is greater than 30 seconds, set your camera to Bulb mode, dial in your settings for ISO and Aperture from step one and then use a cable release for the duration of the new shutter speed.
Press the Set Timer label in the Slower Shutter app and this time will become the value/duration for a timer. Next double tap on the center of the timer to start the countdown. If you need to start over before the countdown is finished, tap once on the countdown progress to pause and then tap Start Timer again. At this point, you only need to tap the countdown indicator once to get it started again.
Real World Example
Recently, I went on a trip to Yosemite National Park with the intention of getting some long exposure photos that I could share here. This is a photo of Tenaya Lake. Without a neutral density filter, I set my camera up on a tripod then set the camera setting to P to allow my Canon 6D to calculate the “proper” exposure. Please note, I set the ISO manually to 100.
Using the fully automated P mode on my camera, this is the photo that I got.
So this isn’t a long exposure at all. There’s way too much texture in the water for my personal preference. But I needed to take this photo so I could get an idea of what the camera thinks is the “proper” or baseline exposure. Next, I set my focus to manual mode and then I attached my Lee Filter 10-Stop (aka the Big Stopper) ND filter.
Now I’m ready to go over to Slower Shutter and figure out what my new exposure should be.
I enter 1/80 for the exposure time and 10 for the ND strength. The new shutter speed that I need is 13 seconds.
So I go back to my camera and put it in Manual mode. I change my ISO to 100 and aperture to f/16 – just as in the original photo. The only thing I need to change at this point is the shutter speed. Making sure the ND filter is on the camera is also a good idea.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Interestingly enough, my camera should have been set to 13 seconds, but I accidentally set it to 10 seconds. As a result, I had to do a little increase in Exposure in Lightroom to get the photo to the right exposure.
Note how in this second photo, the texture in the water is pretty much all gone, leaving you with a glassy reflection. You might also notice that the color has shifted decidedly more blue. This is the result of the 10-stop ND (neutral density) filter that I was using. The thicker the neutral density filter, the longer your exposure will be. The longer your exposure, the more color shift you are likely to encounter in your captured image. Be sure to set your white balance ahead of time as a point of reference when you process your photos later.
So there you have it. My approach for using Slower Shutter in the field to take long exposure photos. For more tips on long exposure photography, check out Scott Wyden Kivowitz‘s ebook Time is on Your Side.
Here’s a long exposure photo that I took on a recent trip out to Yosemite National Park.
It’s a 27 second exposure that I calculated using Slower Shutter (get version 1.1 here). I used a development version of version 1.2 that gives you the option for an audible alert rather than just vibrating when the timer is done. I’ve got to say, I initially thought a vibrate feature alone would be all that was needed, but I really liked the audible alert option.
More photo details.