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Using shutter speeds to create different effects

Hi, welcome to this blog, I’m haven’t completed this blog yet 10th Nov 16. I’m adding to it over the next few days so call back again to see more. Thank you for visiting my site and hopefully you will find it helpful, if it is let me know.

There are two ways to limit the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor

  1. Aperture which I covered in a previous post
  2. Shutter Speed which this blog covers

In DSLR’s the camera’s shutter are Focal Plane Shutters which is in the camera body, in some older cameras they had leaf shutters which were housed in the camera lenses.

Shutter speeds in modern cameras run from 30 seconds up to 1/8000 sec

They run as follows 30sec, 15sec, 8sec, 4sec, 2sec, 1sec, ½ sec, ¼ sec all the way to 1/8000 and not to forget Bulb setting.

Each stop lets in either half the previous if going up the scale e.g. ½ to ¼ sec. In some camera LCD’s 1/250th sec will simply be 250 or 1/1000 will be 1000 as on the shutter dial below.

Shutter Dial of Film Camera

Shutter Dial

Bulb Setting (B on dial)

In the B setting the shutter stays open for as long as the Shutter Button is kept depressed. The name Bulb came from the fact that some old cameras had a bulb which was squeezed to fire the shutter.

My first SLR film camera had a threaded shutter button which I could screw in an extension Air Release. When I squeezed the bulb it would push out a rod which depressed the shutter button, The one I have has an extension Kalt Air Shutter Release – 20′ (6 m) metres away from the camera. The reason for using this method is that when the camera is on a tripod the action of you pressing the shutter button can cause some vibration which causes blur in the photo. Today there are similar cable releases that work on modern flat Shutter Buttons which don’t allow you to screw in this threaded release but I have an adapter so that I can use it for exposures longer than the maximum 30 seconds which my camera allows. There are also apps you can get now to do long exposures or time lapse, also there are cables available from, eBay and many other outlets just search for   Time lapse intervalometer remote timer shutter please ensure that if you are purchasing one to get the one that is dedicated for your camera. THEY ARE NOT UNIVERSAL.

The slideshow will run automatically or you can pause and use the arrow keys to navigate the 6 images. The Konica TCX was my first SLR camera way back in the 1980’s and at the time cost IRL£220 at a time when you’d get around 7 pints of Guinness for IRL£1.00 so in todays terms about €1,540 and this was an entry level SLR. Today’s DSLR entry models can be had for around €400 so entry to photography has came down a lot since those days. Slide film prices was IRL£7.00 process paid for a roll of 36. Today 32GB SD cards can be had for  as little as €12 and can hold over 5,500 jpegs from a 16mp camera. One of the reasons I never overwrite an SD Card, I think of the SD card like my negatives and you always have the original. Remember that every time you copy a jpeg you lose some of the original.

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When you take an image on a 20MP camera the file is around 25MB, the resulting jpeg is around 6MP so where has 19MB gone? well JPEG uses LOSSY compression and the camera processor decided what to lose and what to keep. A JPEG file is the most commonly used image file format, the file will be processed and compressed in a split second by the camera according to the settings made by the user when they select the size of the file they want in the camera settings. Many cameras have different size files you can shoot e.g. jpeg, jpeg small or other option depending on their particular camera. My Sony a6000 which has a 24MP sensor allows me to shoot at 24, 12 or 6MP. It is a very popular image format and is the one that most amateurs use, and can be easily opened in most computers. Also they don’t take up as much hard disk space as RAW files.

If you want the full 25MB from the camera sensor you must shoot RAW. A RAW file is basically an image which preserves most of the information from camera, such as sharpness and contrast, without any camera processing and compressing. As usual Canon have their own version of RAW as have Nikon, you have to use a RAW file program to open the file whereas jpegs can be open my majority of programs. With RAW you have total control of your images but all the post processing is very time consuming. RAW files are also much larger so need much more storage space and fill up your SD Card very quickly. Just like the JPEG some Canon DSLR’s allow you to shoot a smaller RAW e.g. MRAW and SRAW for medium and small RAW files if space is an issue for you. RAW format need to be converted to JPEG and other image formats which are more convenient for printing and sharing.  Personally if particular images are important to me I will shoot both JPEG and RAW so that the RAW files are a backup which I can correct any mistakes in White Balance, bring out more detail in burned out skies etc. You can do similar processing on a JPEG but not to the same extent. I could do a whole blog on JPEG or RAW

Fast Shutter Speeds

Fast shutter speeds can be used to freeze action such as in Sports photography. As a general rule of thumb to avoid camera shake you need to match the shutter speed to the focal length of your lens. An example you are shooting with a 300mm lens it’s recommended that your shutter speed should be at least 250sec or 500sec to be on the safe side. Many camera lenses now have Image Stabilisation built in to them which manufacturers say give 3 to 4 stops extra. For instance if you were shooting a static subject with a 500mm lens that would normally mean that you would be shooting at 1/500sec. IS (Image Stabilisation) would allow you to go: 1 stop would be 1/250sec, 2 stops would be 1/125sec, 3 stops would be 1/60sec and 4 stops would be 1/30sec. I don’t think that I’d be able to shoot with a 500mm lens at 1/30sec and not get blurring due to camera shake. You always have to take what the manufacturers say with a pinch of salt.

Boeing 767, Glamping in Enniscrone, David McGowan, Funeral Director, Quirky Nights Glamping Village Enniscrone, The West' Awake, Thinking outside the box

Fast shutter speed to freeze the water

Shutter Speed of 2 seconds, camera tripod mounted

Shutter Speed of 2 seconds, camera tripod mounted

With a slow shutter speed you can make the rough water look very smooth, only difference in the two images is the shutter speed. There is a small boat between the tug and the plane see how it is blurred due to long exposure.

Freezing the action

Depending what you are shooting for example birds in flight your minimum shutter speed would be 1/1000 sec to freeze the bird in motion especially if it’s a fast moving bird close to you. The same is for football, if your shutter speed is to slow you will see the movement in the ball or player. Like everything it’s a matter of practicing and doing a bit of experimenting.

Light Aircraft flying Lough Conn Airfield Charity Fly In 2016

Lough Conn Airfield Charity Fly In 2016 Shutter Speed of 1/1000sec

Birds in flight using a fast shutter speed to freeze action

Shutter Speed 1/2000 sec required to freeze the action

Birds in flight using a fast shutter speed to freeze action

Shutter Speed 1/2000 sec required to freeze the action

Birds in flight using a fast shutter speed to freeze action

Shutter Speed 1/2000 sec required to freeze the action

Using Slow Shutter Speeds and panning with subject

Using slow shutter speeds we can show the movement, we do this by panning the camera during the exposure.

Panning is where your follow your subject while taking the photo at the same speed as your subject. It’s all a matter of trial and error so if you don’t get the results you want first time just practice and in time you will improve your results. You can have the camera on a tripod/monopod or just hand hold. Some lenses have the option to stabilise on one plane only as on the more expensive lenses so if your lens hasn’t that option it’s best to turn off image stabilisation. If hand holding keep your feet stationary and just rotate your hips.

I took some photos of cars which were travelling around 100kmh (60mph) and found that around 1/60 second gave some blurring to the background as in the images following

Freezing Motion 1/500 sec

This shot was taken panning with a high shutter speed to ‘freeze car 1/500sec, slight motion in the wheels and background but it’s very slight

Panning with slow shutter speeds

Shutter Speed of 1/60th of a second

With a slower shutter speed you can now see that the background is blurred as is the road sign.

Panning with slow shutter speeds

Shutter Speed 1/50th second

If you look at the O’Hara’s logo in the centre of the frame you will notice that it is the sharpest part of the image and the name of the haulier Ed Lundy and the Stop sign is blurred. Remember this when panning shots, whatever is in the centre of the frame will be the sharpest

Panning with slow shutter speeds

Shutter speed 1/60 second

The slower the Shutter Speed the more blur that will be in the photo as can be seen in this next images

Panning with slow shutter speeds

Shutter Speed 1/25 sec

Panning car to show motion

Panning with slow shutter speeds, motion in two planes vertical as well as the usual horizontal as can be seen in the Stop sign. The reason for this is that I must have jerked the camera upwards during the exposure. As I mentioned above it’s all about practice.




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