I've really struggled with this post. Other than coming to your house and showing you how to adjust your shutter speed, it's been really difficult to think of a way to approach it. So I hope with a little description and some examples of photos at different shutter speeds, you'll get the idea. I'm afraid you're going to have to dig out your manual to figure out how to adjust the shutter speed on your own.
This is a photo I took of sister back in the '80s. It was taken in our basement in complete darkness. Using my grandfather's old camera, I taped the button down so the camera's shutter (or eye) stayed open. Just as if you were to sit in a completely dark room with your eyes open you would see nothing, it's the same with a camera. In TOTAL darkness, a camera could sit with its shutter open for hours and record nothing.
To create this image, I used colored flashlights to illuminate the objects (my sister and glasses on the table). There is a sheet hanging behind her which I lit with a red flashlight. And, finally, I used a small penlight to outline her so she looks like a neon sign.
This may have taken two or three minutes to create with the camera shutter sitting open the entire time....and she had to sit completely still.
To take photos with a slow or extended shutter speed you're definitely going to need a tripod. With your camera's shutter open longer, any movement of the camera will make the photo blurry. You don't need anything fancy. Here's a tripod on Amazon that's $17.
In this old photo of the kitchen, I might have used an exposure of (kept the shutter open for) one or two seconds. As you can see, the cat in the foreground moved (against my strict instructions) and he comes out a little blurry. I kind of like the effect as it shows action.
There may, in fact, be times when you want blur to show movement. Here, in this photo of a carnival ride, the blur allows you to see the motion.
So blurry might have it's uses...
...but it's not necessarily something you want in your blog photos. A tripod will help prevent photos from looking like this.
Slowing down your shutter speed isn't a matter of more is better. You can really overdo it. This image is terribly overexposed.
By adjusting the shutter speed and taking a few test shots, you can find a setting that gives you a nice quality of light, even on a cloudy day.
Also notice in this photo the placement of the camera. It's just above the height of the table.
Here you can see the placement of Michael's camera during the photo shoot.
By placing the tripod down at the level of the objects, or a dining room table or a bed, it feels more intimate. It puts the viewer right in the shot. One of my favorite blogs, The Vintique Object, has done several posts in which she analyzes how wonderful interior photographs have been taken. Here's an example of one of Camille's posts.
This photograph demonstrates a typical problem. Your room looks like it has good light but when you take a photo, it comes out very dark. The reason for this is your automatic camera setting. Because the camera is faced directly into the light coming from the window, the camera is trying to automatically adjust for that bright light and it leaves the room looking very dark.
By switching to the shutter speed setting, I'm able to slow down the shutter to allow more light into the camera lens. I don't think this is a great photograph necessarily, because the sun is shining outside and making the light look a little harsh, but it's a tradeoff. This kind of light can make a photo look very dreamy if that's the look you're going for. It would be better to take this photo on a cloudy day or at dusk when the light is much less severe.
We'll get to the flower arrangement in a minute.
I thought I would do a little experiment with this scene. I took these photos a few days after the photo shoot when the flowers were still alive. The sun has set outside and the house is dark enough to turn lights on. I would never consider taking photographs in this light. On an automatic setting, the camera does a pretty good job of capturing the scene but notice the image is very grainy.
I tried taking a photo with the flash and, as you can see, it looks just terrible. I don't think there's ever a good reason to use a camera mounted flash for an interior shot unless a room has no natural light and you're forced to.
I put the camera on shutter speed priority and extended the shot to eight seconds. It's not a fantastic shot but it's essentially dark outside so I think it's pretty good.
I zoom in to take a closeup with a 15-second shot and you'd almost never know it isn't the middle of a sunny day.
When yesterday's forecast predicted a rare October snowstorm, I ran outside and cut the last of everything in the garden. These are the blue hydrangeas that have aged to green, mauve and burgundy, coleus, new rose growth and Japanese maple. We were lucky to get only a few inches of snow but this is definitely the last arrangement I'll get from the garden...presented in the style of the Dutch masters.
Here's another darker spin on the arrangement just for Halloween.
This last flower arrangement celebrates Jane's last day of smoking. Join the celebration at this ex-smoker's flower party....and good luck, Jane. Be strong!
Now get out those camera manuals and tweak your shutter speeds!