Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Speed of Light!

Okay, when it comes to photography, it's all about shooting "light". There are many factors that go into that, but for now, I want to talk about shutter speed... wikipedia goes into detail about it. But let me try and demonstrate...

Without getting into the understanding of exposure and factoring in your ISO and aperture camera settings, shutter speed is how many seconds you set your shutter to stay open. The longer you leave it open, the more light will be let in. Shutters typically open and close real fast like they do in a simple point-and-shoot camera. SLR cameras allow you to control how "fast" or how "slow" the shutter will open and close. A slow shutter speed, such as 1/8 to a full second, will let in more light, letting you blur an object or capture a night shot. Slow shutter speeds settings I use are anywhere from 1/20th of a second to a full 3 seconds, depending on what I want to accomplish and how much light I'm dealing with. Here are some examples:

I used 1/4th sec. shutter speed here, notice the softer "blur" look the water has. Yes, a popular technique you've seen before

I used a setting of 1/2 a second here to let in more light and capture detail in the dark. Notice some of the people in motion down below are blurred (like the waterfall shot above)

With a faster shutter speed, you can "freeze" action, which is great for sports photography, weddings (sometimes), or any action you want to capture sharp. Keep in mind that when you use fast shutter speeds, you're telling the camera to open and close very fast, letting in very little light. Your shots will be dark if you don't compensate for this loss of light by adjusting your aperture (e.g., f-stop) and ISO settings (sensitivity to light), but that's another topic!

Here are some examples:

I shot this at 1/750th of a second so you can see the ripples and droplets (taken at the World War Memorial)

We all know how fast a bullet travels. The .45 caliber round travels at approximately 950 feet per second, a heavy and hard hitting round (yes I know my guns, I was a firearms instructor remember?). Now I don't have a shot of a bullet traveling down range (I'm working on it, hehe), but I found an image showing the shell casings ejecting out of .45 caliber Thompson sub-machine gun.

This dramatic example of fast shutter speeds was shot by a fellow Canon shooter, probably at or around 1/1000ths of a second, maybe more or less depending on available light.

In the image above from Erin and Chris' wedding, you can see the bouquet was "frozen" in mid-air at 1/200ths of a second... so cool :)

So there's your photography insight of the day.... now where's my shotgun? :)