Motion Blur – Slow Shutter Speeds-Chapter 5
The idea of making images in low light brings fast lenses and high iso to one’s mind. Don’t know about either of the terms? I suggest continue to read this series of chapters and I promise you’ll learn about them and much more. Anyways, you have slow shutter speeds at your disposal in low light to create images. This chapter of my Free Basics of Photography Course is about slow shutter speeds and Motion.
In this chapter you’ll learn how you can achieve motion blur using slower shutter speed
In the previous chapter you learned certain thumb rules on how to freeze action using high shutter speeds. The chapter provided you with starting points for your own experimentation. In this chapter, I’ll try to provide certain examples of slower shutter speeds. You can start experimenting with the same and work upon it to get better results.
We know that 1/250th of a second provides a relatively fast shutter speed to stop a relatively slow moving subject. We take 1/250 as a bench mark and move towards slower shutter speed one stop at a time.
Shutter Speed of 1/125th of a Second
As you know this speed is one stop slower than 1/250. (To those who don’t know what one stop is please read it here). 1/125 is a speed when there is a relatively low ambient light, say in evening hours of summer. This speed allows sufficient light to properly expose subjects in such light. In a normal day light scenario you can have more depth of filed using this shutter speed in your compositions. How?… well you can close the aperture. The 1/125 shutter speed will allow more light while closed aperture will provide greater depth of field.
Shutter Speed of 1/60th of a Second
Panning; This is a term when you pan the camera in the direction of a moving subject. With the camera set to 1/60 shutter speed you can pan relatively fast moving subjects and get a beautiful blur behind the subject. This blur is called the motion blur and give a sense of motion in your composition. You can use this shutter speed while hand holding the camera.
Here is a YouTube video on how to create streaks of rain droplets with the use of 1/60 shutter speed. 1/60 is also the shutter speed with which you can shoot nice portraits with continuous light source. The famous Peter Hurley, the head shot photographer mostly uses 1/60 for his head shots.
Shutter Speed of 1/30th of a Second
Extremely useful to pan slower moving subjects across the frame. With this shutter speed we enter the world of tripods, bean bags, edge of a wall, branch of a tree or the image stabilization in the lens. Handheld, the camera will produce a blur in the image due to possible camera shake. However, there are some photographers who are good at holding the camera still, even at this speed. I suggest you get a sturdy tripod, even while panning to get beautiful motion blur. 1/30 also allows lot more ambient light coming to the sensor and hence it is good for dusk/dawn time.
Shutter Speed of 1/15th of a Second
Tripods are a must at 1/15. Movement in subject will cause the blur in the image, so it is the starting shutter speed to get light trails of moving cars in your composition.
Shutter Speed of 1/8th of a Second
Want to get milky waterfalls, light streaks of moving cars, get all these with 1/8 shutter speed. It also allows to close the aperture to get better depth of field. Needless to say tripod is a must and along with it, you should also have a remote shutter release or a cable release or the camera should be used in delayed shooting mode. These are the tools to avoid camera shake while pressing the shutter release button. Note that this shutter speed is suitable for extremely low light/night.
Shutter Speed of 1/4th, 1/2nd of a Second and 1 Second
With these shutter speeds we are getting beyond the scope of this course i.e. the basics. I hope you’ve got the concept of motion blur and slow shutter speeds. Still want more… well experiment with the shutter speeds and you’ll know the beautiful world of low light and slow shutter speeds.
Now that we have put these shutter speeds in the heading, let me give you some examples of these. Ever seen a giant wheel in a magazine with only light streaks, most probably it was done with either of the three shutter speeds depending on the speed of the wheel. Night city scapes with beautiful light coming out of the windows and light towers! you are in the zone of the above shutter speeds.
There could be many more examples, but the purpose of this chapter is to give you starting points for your experimentation with slower shutter speeds. I know that the shutter speeds will depend on the conditions of light and largely what kind of image the photographer wants to make. But we all need a starting point isn’t it?
Any query on this topic please put down in the comments section below and I’ll respond to it.
Wait! what about the bulb mode? Well, we’ll discuss the bulb mode in the coming chapters. Till then, experiment, learn, apply and become a better photographer.