Photo Classes – Shutter Priority Lesson Five

Camera controls– Shutter Priority

In S/TV (time value) You set the shutter speed the camera sets the aperture. When shooting in shutter priority you control the way movement is captured in your pictures.

Fast shutter speeds freeze motion. A fast shutter also helps ensure sharp pictures no matter how unsteady your grip on the camera. A Slow shutter speed will tend to blur movement. If you are shooting handheld ie without a tripod. You need to keep your shutter speed high enough or you will have blur in your pictures. Most people can not handhold their camera if their shutter is below 1/60th of a second. In low light you may need to increase your ISO to boost the speed.

Working in “Stops”, F-stops that is. (To change Shutter Speed on my Canon I just have to roll the little wheel on top of my camera near the Shutter Button. Your adjustment dial will most likely be located in the same place. Check your manual if you’re not sure where to find it.

Each f-stop number is half the size as the one before it (and so it let’s in half as much light). The difference between two sequential f-stop numbers is referred to as a f-stop. If the sensor is exposed to light for longer, the resulting image will be brighter. If it is exposed to light for less time, the resulting image will be darker. That is the first thing you will notice once you start playing around with shutter priority mode. If you reduce the aperture by one stop (letting less light in). To set the same exposure you will need to “compensate” by slowing your shutter speed down by one stop. Even in bright daylight, you might want to increase the camera’s ISO setting in order to get a very high shutter speed, which will help you to freeze a fast-moving subject.

Slow shutter speeds ( 1/30th and slower)

Shooting Waterfalls –

When shooting a waterfall, set your shutter speed to a slow setting to get that silky look. Perhaps you have wondered how it is done. Just set your camera to a very slow speed; about one second or a half-second, and see the results. The silky slow-movement effect is not always your best option. For each waterfall you should try a few shutter speeds to see which one works best for that particular subject. ( also know ND filters will assist you to get the silky effect)

Your shutter speed is what dictates if your subjects action is frozen or if the action is blurred. As a general rule, try to keep your shutter around 1/500th of a second to freeze motion. (remember if your pictures are to dark-increase your ISO to help let more light in).

When panning , you will move you camera so that it follows the direction of the action. The key is to pan (track) at the same speed. You will continue to pan after you have pressed the shutter release. If you do this right your subject will be sharp and your background will be blurred. TRY a shutter speed of around 1/60 or 1/125 for fast moving subjects. To do panning successfully, you want to really slow down the camera. Set your ISO to the lowest possible. I use ISO 100-200.

Practice panning in the times of day when there is little light, like early morning or late afternoon. Using these techniques when there is a lot of available light results in overexposed images, which will not work.

Zoom Blur
When using this technique, the motion blur is caused by the camera’s zoom function rather than the subject’s movement. Select a scene with a lot of colorful lights. Select a shutter speed of about 1 second or longer and set your zoom lens on its widest focal length. After you click on the shutter, zoom in to your lens’ longest focal length. It takes some practice to pull it off smoothly.

Shutter Speed and Flash
Knowing how a flash works with your camera can help you use the shutter speed setting creatively in conjunction with a flash. Most older cameras equipped with a focal plane shutter can synchronize with a flash at shutter speeds of 60th of a second or slower, while leaf shutter cameras synch at any speed setting. Newer cameras sometimes offer synchronized flash settings of 125th of a second or faster. Check the owners manual to determine your cameras flash synch speed. If a flash is used at shutter speeds faster than the synch speeds, part of the exposure will be black, while the rest of the frame is properly exposed. This is caused by the shutter taking part of the exposure before the flash is set off.

In a darkened studio, shutter speed doesn’t come into play with flash pictures. When you take the flash out of the studio, however, adjusting the shutter speed is often necessary to match the flash exposure to the background. If the window light behind the subject in the photograph you’re about to take shows a light meter reading of 60th at f/5.6, what do you do if the flash exposure for the same picture is f/8? If you want the window light to be twice as dark as the subject, you set the camera at f/8 and shoot. But if you want the world beyond the window to be properly exposed, you can adjust the shutter speed to 1/30 of a second and the aperture to f/8.

If the subject is moving, the flash will stop the subject only for the duration of its short burst. The remainder of the exposure will show a blurred edge around the subject. Use the fastest synch speed offered by your camera (located in your menu) if you want to minimize this blur. There are times though when this blur-effect can be used creatively.

By using shutter speed settings creatively, you can do far more than minimize camera movement. You’ll be able to make your subjects stand out from the background, stop the action, show motion, blend flash and natural light and unleash the creative potential of your camera.

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