What’s shutter dragging?

Have you ever ever seen a photograph that has been taken in low gentle situations, the place the topic is sharp, however there are blurred lights within the background? It’s a favourite marriage ceremony dance flooring shot. This impact is named shutter dragging. You obtain it utilizing a mix of sluggish shutter velocity and flash.

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On this article, we’ll check out the ins and outs of shutter dragging, from the tools it is advisable to the most effective instances to strive it.

What’s shutter dragging?

Shutter dragging works by combining flash, which freezes your topic, with a sluggish shutter velocity to seize movement blur. 

If you find yourself taking pictures in low gentle situations, a sluggish shutter velocity permits extra gentle to succeed in the sensor to create an publicity. It additionally captures the motion of something within the body, which we name movement blur. In the event you don’t use a tripod when taking lengthy publicity pictures, they are often blurred from camera-shake, too. With shutter dragging, you intentionally introduce digital camera shake or movement blur into the shot for artistic impact.

Shutter dragging is a two-step course of for every publicity. First, the flash freezes your topic within the body to make them sharp. Subsequent, you progress your digital camera whereas the shutter remains to be open to create gentle trails with background lights. It’s an amazing mixture of sharp and mushy.

An previous identify for shutter dragging is “bake and shake”. The flash “bakes” the topic, or units within the body. The digital camera motion is the “shake” aspect.

When do I need to use shutter dragging?

You possibly can drag the shutter in decrease gentle conditions if you need to introduce a sense of motion or dynamism to a photograph. It could possibly create drama or a way of enjoyable.

We now have already talked about marriage ceremony dance flooring as a good time to strive shutter dragging. However you should utilize it in a lot of different conditions, too.

Sports activities or motion images

Dragging the shutter may help to emphasize the motion of an athlete or anything in movement in a photograph, for instance a bicycle or automotive.

Avenue images

It appears very atmospheric if you use shutter dragging to {photograph} folks or automobiles towards metropolis lights.

Portrait images

You possibly can produce very artistic portraits utilizing shutter dragging. 

Evening images

Automobiles, stars, or something photographed at evening utilizing the shutter dragging approach can look terrific.

What tools do I want for shutter dragging?

You don’t want a lot for shutter dragging:

  1. A digital camera with handbook taking pictures mode
  2. A speedlight
  3. A lens – prime is finest however not important.

Additionally, you will should be taking pictures in low-light situations with apparent ambient gentle within the background.

Which digital camera settings are finest for shutter dragging?

Put your lens in autofocus mode. Set your digital camera to handbook mode. Your speedlight must be in TTL mode with entrance curtain sync. Entrance curtain sync ensures that your flash will hearth originally of your publicity. This makes it simpler to seize a pointy topic. You can begin to maneuver the digital camera after the flash has gone off.

Set your publicity for the background of your shot, not your topic. 


A smaller aperture will permit you to shoot with a slower shutter velocity and hold loads of your scene in focus. Begin with an aperture of ƒ/16. You possibly can widen it if it is advisable to later.


It’s preferable to maintain your ISO as little as potential. If it’s too excessive, your picture shall be noisy. The publicity triangle signifies that your ISO will rely on the aperture and shutter velocity you select, however begin with ISO 800.

Finest Shutter velocity for shutter dragging

A sluggish shutter velocity is the crucial aspect of shutter dragging. A great start line is between a half and one second. You possibly can all the time regulate this if it is advisable to.

shutter drag

Topic placement is essential for good outcomes with shutter dragging. Your topic must be comparatively near your digital camera and flash. If the topic is just too removed from the flash, the flash will be unable to freeze the topic clearly within the shot. The background and ambient lights ought to be comparatively distant from the topic. If the flash hits the background, it might have a destructive impression on the ultimate look.

While you’re prepared, begin taking pictures! While you launch the shutter, the flash ought to hearth, which is able to freeze your topic within the body. Now use the remainder of the publicity to maneuver your digital camera and create some gentle trails from the ambient lights within the background. You possibly can transfer your digital camera from side-to-side, up and down, and even rotate it. You’ll by no means obtain the identical consequence twice, however hold experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.

Wrapping up

Shutter dragging is plenty of enjoyable, and may even be just a little addictive. In the event you’re utilizing it at a marriage or sporting occasion, just be sure you seize loads of ‘common’ images, too. In any other case, go and experiment!

Ideas and troubleshooting

Shutter dragging is all about experimentation. However, typically you may get outcomes which are disappointing, or don’t look proper. If that occurs to you, the following pointers and concepts is likely to be useful.

My gentle trails aren’t very lengthy

In the event you suppose that your gentle trails are too brief, you may want to increase your shutter velocity.

My photos are a bit blurry and complicated

First, strive utilizing a shorter shutter velocity. In case your pictures are nonetheless too blurred, perhaps decrease your ISO just a little.

My topic is blown-out

Your flash might be a bit too highly effective. Strive lowering its energy output.

The sunshine trails are obscuring my topic

Dragging your digital camera throughout your topic can draw the sunshine trails over them. Strive spinning or twisting your digital camera as an alternative.

Is shutter dragging good for various conditions?

The flash freezes your topic, which signifies that you retain the digital camera nonetheless however let movement that’s occurring within the background do the work. It is likely to be site visitors passing by, or a playground experience