Photo tips on Saturday: Effects from different shutter speeds
Last Saturday I introduced this new feature: Photo tips on Saturday. The full post, that includes the upcoming schedule and important methods to implement new found techniques can be found here.
In this post I want to assist with some ideas about how varying your shutter speed provides a range of creative options. The focus for this topic is particularly on landscapes and seascapes. Over the next few weeks, I am going to build on this theme and will bring all the concepts together in few weeks time.
For best results, it is important to make your photos when the light is at its best. This usually means being ready before sunrise through a short time after sunrise and again towards sunset to a little after sunset for landscapes/seascapes. It is during those times that you are most likely to produce your images that have the greatest impact.
I always shoot RAW and think that post processing with software such as Lightroom is extremely important. I will discuss this more in a future post.
Three key effects from varying shutter speeds in landscapes/seascapes
In relation to landscapes that include water, I think about three possible options in relation to shutter speed. These are shutter speeds that will:
- freeze motion
- emphasise motion
- smooth motion.
These are presented in order of shutter speed: freezing motion requires a rapid shutter speed, emphasising motion needs an intermediate shutter speed and smoothing motion requires the longest shutter speeds. The actual shutter speeds required depend on the speed of the flowing water and whether the motion is continuous (e.g a river/stream) or episodic (e.g. waves).
My preference is to generally go for longer shutter speeds rather than freezing the motion – you may or may not have the same preference.
Photos that illustrate the basic idea
In the above two photos, the water in the falls was moving at different speeds. Nevertheless, the one with the slower shutter speed (1/6 second) shows a more ‘flowing effect’ than the one taken with the faster shutter speed.
The above two photos were taken within a few minutes of each other. The smoothing effect of the long shutter speed in the lower photo is clear with the waves having ‘disappeared’.
The above photo was of a river flowing at good speed a short distance before entering the sea. Again the image with the longer shutter speed shows the smoothing effect generated.
What to do in the field
Given the different creative effects from varying the shutter speed I often take a range of images with varying shutter speeds and choose my preferred images when editing. With photos that have an interval component to them, such as waves, I also find it useful to capture a few images to enable choosing of the most compositionally pleasing image.
Help with using the new techniques
If you have any burning questions from this post please feel free to let me know. I will be building on this post in upcoming weeks. At this point you may wonder how to go about varying the shutter speed – I will discuss some options including ISO, f stop and filters in coming posts – but feel free to experiment now.
I will repeat the advice I provided last week to assist putting new learnings into action. One option you may wish to pursue is to:
- create your own post with any photos you wish to show
- create a link to my post
- include a link from your post in my comments.
Next week I will look at using filters to vary shutter speed. After that the following timetable applies:
March 14: f stops, lens sweet spot and shutter speed
March 21: Varying ISO to obtain your desired shutter speed
March 28: Pulling together ISO, f stop and filters to obtain desired shutter speed.