No its not smashing your camera up and pulling some important internal parts of your camera across the floor. Shutter drag is a technique where, instead of using your cameras sync speed to take a flash photograph, you set the shutter speed to a slower amount, for example 0.5 sec.
The examples here are of a Wedding function from last year. You can see everyone is having a great time and the camera has caught that.
However, in the second example, you can see the motion of the disco lights as they streak through the image which gives a more dynamic feel to the images as if the viewer was in that dance.
So what’s going on?
What happens is the flash fires as the shutter opens and freezes any movement caught by the duration of the flash. The trick is then to move the camera in that half a second window to streak any light from the disco lights thus giving the look of streaky coloured lights throughout the scene.
The trick here is not to overdo this technique. I like to give clients a mixture of both to see what they prefer but I usually get asked “Wow! How do you get those crazy lights?” Now you know.
With flash there are really two exposures going on. Your aperture controls your flash exposure and your shutter speed controls the ambient light.
I hope to get more into this in future blogs but for now just try messing about with a shutter speed of around 0.5 sec, an I.S.O. of about 400 and f5.6 Aperture – but do experiment with these figures and give it a go next time you are out at a party with your DSLR.