Many modern compact cameras try and reduce a major cause of low quality images; camera shake. They do this by increasing the ISO, to give a short shutter speed, and using image stabilisation. This is OK for most images, but it takes away a technique for creative photography; long shutter speeds. Using long shutter speeds can give interesting effects, and add an extra dimension to your images, that of passing time, rather than being all about “the decisive moment”.
Here an Irish friend is doing Irish dancing whilst sitting on a bench. Irish dancing involves moving the legs whilst keeping the rest of the body as still as possible. The blur of her legs during the 1.6 second exposure makes an interesting contrast with the solidity of the wooden bench and her stationary hands.
That image is an example of subject movement during a long exposure, but long exposure can also be combined with camera movement, and use of flash.
Here I’ve used a 0.6 second exposure, moved the camera during the exposure, and fired the flash. There’s an exposure from the ambient light which, combined with the camera movement, has given streaky lines and lots of blur. The exposure from the flash is much shorter and has given a sharp image. It’s a more complicated composition than the simple, geometric, “dancing” image, with multiple faces and coffee mugs, but that adds to its mystery. It makes us ask questions, such as, “Why is there a yellow Marigold glove on the TV in the background?”.
So forget about trying to get short shutter speeds, and take your time to show time in a different way.