With this assignment we are exploring some of the creative and technical possibilities and limitations of shutter speed. The shutter speed setting sets how long the camera opens the shutter during exposure. The shutter speed is one of three interdependent variables that combined determine exposure (along with f stop and ISO). Shutter speed is one of the key variables that contributes to sharpness or blur.
There are two parts to this assignment. The first will begin to introduce you to how shutter speed can freeze movement or show movement. The second will introduce you to panning as creative way to show movement.
1. Using Shutter Speed To Freeze or Blur Action
With this assignment you’ll want to shoot your camera in the horizontal orientation. Find someone willing to run through the frame for you. Ideally you want them to run at the same rate while you take several images at different shutter speeds. Find a good background that doesn’t interfere with your subject. Try to make the shot as well composed as you can. You’ll keep the same composition for each shot.
- Set your ISO to 100 or 200 if your camera doesn’t go to 100.
- Zoom you lens to 50mm or as close as you can.
- You can pre focus on the spot where you runner will go through.
- You’ll want your camera set to manual, usually found on the dial on top of your camera.
- Set your shutter speed to 1/1000 and zero out your exposure by changing your f stop/ aperture. (If you are still unclear about how to do this, consult your manual or here’s a link to a site that illustrates this: (www.slrphotographyguide.com/camera/settings/fully-manual.shtml)
- With each run through, change your shutter speed one full step of exposure (aka stop) and change your f stop/aperture one step in the opposite direction to keep your exposure zeroed out. In your view finder it should look something like this:
100AS0 -2 | | -1 | | 0 | | +1 | | +2
Here are the traditional full shutter speed steps: <—–1 second, 1/2second, 1/4,1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000—–>
The shutter speed doubles as you move higher and halves as you move to lower numbers:
1/1000 is twice as fast as 1/500 and 1/500 will stay open twice as long as 1/1000
Here are the traditional full f stop/aperature steps: f 1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32
Each step is half as much light as the numbers increase (f 4 let’s in half as much light as f 2.8)
Each stop is twice as much light as the f stop number moves to the next lower number (f 2.8 is twice as much light as f4)
As long as your light source stays constant, your exposure should look consistent with each new image, ie not lighter or darker. If while doing this assignment, you have the sun coming in and out of clouds, then your light source will vary and it will will be very challenging to do this assignment.
Notice how different shutter speeds freeze or blur your runner. Understanding what shutter speed you need to stop action or show motion is a fundamental control you have in your artistic tool belt.
2. Using Shutter Speed to Pan
Again, like above, have someone run at the same speed as you vary your shutter speed with each exposure. Again make sure you have a good background as you shoot horizontally zoomed at around 50mm.
- Make a series of exposures as you did with the first part of the assignment, this time following your runner with the camera as you shoot.
With this assignment you’ll see how varying the shutter speed effects sharpness, freezes action and can show blur. Understanding the effects and uses of different shutter speeds is fundamental in controlling exposure and getting the sharpness you’ll need for creative and routine photography.
This image was taken in the shade in mid afternoon on a bright and clear day. To achieve the blur I set the ISO to 100 and the f stop to f16 which gave me a shutter speed of 1/15th of a second. By panning the camera with the movement of the girl, ie following her at the same rate of movement blurs the background and keeps her pretty sharp. As always, look for a background that doesn’t interfere and distract from your subject.