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Cars fly by, their taillights leaving red trails through dark streets, here and gone in the blink of an eye. A merry-go-round at the county fair whips around faster and faster, its lights flashing on and off and its horses and its carriages blurring together into one steady stream of motion. These are the awesome sights we can only capture with slow shutter speed (aka long exposure) photography. The longer a camera's shutter remains open, the more light it takes in. Photographers can use that fact to create breathtaking images that capture the beauty of motion. Something as simple as a glow stick can be used to paint a vivid trail of light in the air, and slow shutter speeds can lend cars or cyclists or Ferris wheels a dramatic sense of speed.
Plus, slow shutter photography just looks cool. Want to try it for yourself? You can capture the speed and lights of a bustling city's nightlife without being an expert. It's not that tough! To get started, just grab a camera -- preferably something with more adjustable settings than a point-and-shoot -- and check out these five tips for slow shutter speed photography.