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Friday, January 21, 2011

Photography Tip #3: Capturing Motion

One of the fun and creative aspects about photography is that you have the ability to capture motion in a variety of ways. When planning to take advantage of a motion-filled photographic opportunity, you must first evaluate your shutter speed.

{The above picture was taken with a shutter speed of 1/8000s and an aperture of f/2.0}.

Shutter speed is the unit of measurement that determines how long the shutter remains open when you are taking a photo. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the exposure time. Shutter speed together with aperture controls the total amount of light reaching the sensor. Shutter speed is measured in seconds (or fractions of a second). For example 2, 1, 1/2..... all the way down to 1/8000.  (Aperture is the lens diaphragm opening inside a photographic lens that regulates the amount of light that passes through onto the film inside the camera the moment when the shutter curtain in your camera opens during an exposure process).

{The above picture of two of my brothers playing ball together was taken with a shutter speed of 1/250s and an aperture of f/10.0}.

Using a fast shutter speed allows you to freeze the action of your object in crisp, sharp detail. While, using a slow shutter speed allows you to blur an object or imply motion within a photograph. An important detail to remember is that when using longer shutter speeds a tripod is essential, otherwise you will end up with a blurry picture (from the movement of your hand).

Notice the difference in visual effect within the two pictures below. The top picture was taken with a shutter speed of 1/800s and an aperture of f/5.6 and the bottom picture was taken with a shutter speed of 1/8s at f/36.0.

Useful tips to know when capturing motion in sharp detail:
1. Regardless of what action you're photographing, if the action is coming at you, you can safely shoot at 1/250 sec.
2. If you are attempting to freeze action coming in from the right or left, or if the action you are shooting is moving up and down, for the most part, 1/500 sec is more than sufficient. (However, if the action is very fast, then your best option is 1/1000 sec).

Another creative way to play around with your shutter speed is to utilize the technique known as "panning." When you pan any moving subject, you will almost always be shooting from a point of view that is directly parallel to your subject. When your subject moves into the frame from right or left, simply follow it with your camera while pressing your shutter release button.  Your subject will remain fairly in focus, and the objects around your subject will be recorded as either vertical or horizontal streaks. NOTE: to pan effectively, you want a shutter speed of at least 1/30 sec.

{The above picture of my nephew running through the living room was taken with a shutter speed of 1/5s and an aperture of f/5.6}.

I hope you've enjoyed this photography tip and are excited to give it a try. I challenge you to experiment with your shutter speed next time you photograph an object in motion.

If you have any additional information to add regarding shutter speed and its effects, please fell free to comment. What tips have you found effective when adjusting your shutter speed to different settings?

Also note that anyone should now be able to comment as I have changed the comment settings :)

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