Exercise 1.10 – Shutter Speed

Brief:- Make a series of experiments bracketing only the shutter speed, for example by using 1/250th sec, then 1/60th sec, 1/15th sec, etc. You’ll go from freezing movement to blurring movement. Think about some interesting moving subjects and note down some ideas: people, nature, machines etc. Note the most effective ways you could photograph them: by panning the camera with a moving object or by holding the camera still. Try not to fall for visual cliches; if you’ve recognised that something is a cliche, move away and search for something new. All visual art is refreshed by new ideas.


I had read the brief for this prior to begining the course, so I have had it in my mind each time I have been out with my camera.

In this series the movement of people was my focus. My intent was to capture movement by opening up the shutter speed, rather than freezing the movement. Photos one and three have not been developed, but photo two has been.

Technique:- Photo 1 – Tripod,  ISO 100, f14, 1.3 sec. This photo was taken for a project on mental health. I have taken many photos from this position which I will then blend together. All of them will show people at different places within the frame, and different levels of movement. The goal for me was to have the movement around and through the whalebones. Photo 2 – Handheld, 14 stop ND filter, ISO 100, f22, 0.5 sec. I used the ND filter because the sun was very bright and close to over head. I wanted to capture the movement of people walking past the RAF Hawk jet. Having the other photographer in the frame worked out well as he provides some additional stillness in contrast to the people walking between him and the Hawk. Photo 3 – Handheld, ISO 100, f22, 1/5 sec. I was focusing on capturing shadow and had the exposure to long for what I was aiming for. However another exapmle of catching people in movement.

Technique:- Photo 4 – Handheld, ISO 500, f5.6, 1/400 sec. The high ISO was set because the right exposure for the cars and quick shutter speed to freeze movement was my priority whilst shooting this event. With this medium shutter speed, much of the movement is captured, and even some of the individual bits of gravel can be seen, but the overall effect of the gravel is movement. Photo 5 – Handheld, ISO 400, f5.6, 1/1250 sec. The shutter speed is much faster in this image and consequently the gravel has been frozen in time.

Technique :- Photos 6 – Handheld, ISO 400, f11, 1/160. Taken with a slow enough shutter speed to capture some movement. Photo 7 – Handheld, panning, ISO 100, f6, 1/1250. The high shutter speed means that the panning is not noticible and the helicopter rota blade has been rendered invisible.

Technique – Photo 8 – Handheld, ISO 100, f11, 1/500 sec. The parachutists from the RAF Flying Falcons display team are slow moving so the shutter speed could be slower to capture tham without motion blur. Photo 9 – Handheld, ISO 100, f6, 1/2000 sec. The faster moving Global Stars Aerobatics display team required a faster shutter speed to be able to freeze their movement.

Richard Keys

Technique – Photo 10 – Handheld, 14 stop ND filter, ISO 100, f11, 1/13 sec. Zoom blur from tele to wide. I wanted to be able to create movement and experiment with zoom blur. The ND filter meant I could have a more open shutter speed. The effect is certainly one of movement, and I did enjoy the experiment, but I cant see it featuring in too many of my future photos.

Summary. A faster shutter speed means that movement will be frozen, but if you are panning at the same speed as a moving object you will be able to use a slower shutter speed and lower ISO. It will also mean that you need a wider aperture and may need to increase the ISO Having an open shutter means that you will need to decrease the aperture (f11 – f40) or use an ND filter to ensure that you dont over expose the photo.

Understanding shutter speed and how it affects exposure is important. I need to be able to take photographs quickly at events, and macro photography when over exposed can mean that strong contasting colours in close proximity can blend together and create horrible distortions.

I intend to develop my sociology based photography which is more abstract, artistic and conceptual, and will mean that I want to make photos that include mood, emotion and story telling, and the ability to capture and freeze movement will be a vital technical skill to master.

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