It can be a really fun thing to experiment with slow shutter speeds. This picture was taken on my recent trip to Maui and I wanted to talk you all through how it was done.

Im not sure what the equivalent shutter speed of our eyes are (I used to at some point, I want to say ~250-300 fps if anyone knows please tell me) but I do know that it isnt nearly as fast as our ability to hear due to the way signals are transformed into a nerve impulse. Eyes require the conversion of a chemical intermediary while hearing is detected by the opening of an ion channel- just a side note)

In any event, when you take a camera and leave the shutter open for a prolonged period of time, it allows the sensor to “soak” in ambient light, in the case of this photo, over a period of 10 seconds..

Find your night time subject. Remember, you may not be able to clearly see what you are shooting. When I shot these palms I could only see the faint glimmers of the highlights here and there.

You will need a tripod and to shoot in shutter priority mode as we are most concerned with dialing in a long exposure. Set your camera to “timer” because you do not want the camera to shake/vibrate at all when you push the shutter button down. Doing so would cause blur. Once you have composed it, press the shutter button and take a few steps back to avoid contact or any vibrations of movement that might effect the picture.


Shutter Speed: 10 Seconds
Aperture: f 4.0
ISO 400
Auto White Balance
Drive: 10 second timer
Focus: Auto
Quality: RAW (allows you to tweak exposure and other settings to taste)