Photo tips on Saturday: how to vary your shutter speed
On 28 February I introduced this current series for photo tips on Saturday (see here). The focus for this series has been on the creative effects that can be achieved by varying the shutter speed when making landscapes/seascapes in my photo tips on Saturday post. Since the initial post I have taken you through the use of filters (see here), f stops and ISO. In this post I will attempt to pull everything together from the previous posts.
As a recap, I have discussed three types of shutter speeds, those that:
- freeze motion
- emphasise motion
- smooth motion.
Freezing motion uses the fastest shutter speeds and smoothing motion uses the slowest.
Various filters are useful for achieving different creative effects in your landscapes/seascapes. A useful approach is:
- What type of effect am I looking for in this scene? Options include freezing motion, emphasising motion and smoothing motion.
- What shutter speed would achieve the creative effect being aimed for?
- What filter will be required (if any) to achieve the desired shutter speed?
In general, filters such as 9 and 10 stop neutral density filters are useful for smoothing motion whereas, polarising filters and lower stop neutral density filters are useful for emphasising motion.
Achieving a balance in your camera settings to achieve a high quality image
Three settings on your camera are key to correct exposure:
- shutter speed
- f stop
In general, we want to use a low ISO and to set the f stop close to the ‘sweet spot’ of the lens to make a high quality image.
In most landscapes, it is desirable to have the aperture stopped down (higher f stop number) to achieve an adequate depth of field. But this does not mean setting the f stop to as high a number as possible as the image will suffer from a loss of sharpness. It is also worth bearing in mind that depth of field is larger when a wider angle lens is used. Thus something in the mid range of f stops for the lens is desirable – I tend not to go over f16 and generally use a lower f stop than this.
In the previous post, I discussed how there are times when I don’t use the lowest ISO possible. I find this particularly occurs when I make photos around sunrise or sunset and the shutter speed becomes too slow for the desired effect I’m looking for. In that situation, I don’t mind increasing the ISO a little (but not beyond ISO 400).
To summarise, the aim is to apply settings that will both achieve your desired effect while minimising issues such as lack of sharpness.
Help with using the new techniques
If you have any burning questions from this post please feel free to let me know.
As always, feel free 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 will be the start of a new series – until then have fun with your photography.