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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Slow shutter speeds subjects at night

One of the things I really enjoy about photography is its unpredictability. With film it was even more the case, but even with digital there are times when you just aren't sure what you're going to get.

Any time there's a bit of uncertainly in a photographic result the heart beats a little bit faster as you change this and that to experiment, not really knowing what it will effect.

Nowhere is this more the case than when using slow shutter speeds. The slower the shutter speed the more moving objects will blur - but just how much and what the result will be is purely hit-and-miss. Gotta love that!

This image was shot at the annual Cairns Show. Night fairs are a great place to try out this technique, just remember the tripod! As soon as the sun goes down people tend to bump up their ISO so they can get faster shutter speeds. For this kind of image that's exactly the opposite of what we want to do so you can safely leave your camera on its base ISO of 100 (or whatever your camera's base ISO is).

We want a slower shutter speed so that the rides will be blurry while (hopefully) the people won't be too blurry. I set my tripod up in a relatively out of the way place and pointed it up at these two rides. I wanted lots of blur in the right hand side ride and not too much in the left hand one. But more importantly I didn't want the guy in the ticket booth to be blurred.

The who you say? The guy in the ticket booth, who is actually the subject of my picture. I saw him and he looked like the most bored person on the entire planet and wanted to show a picture of him with all this moving excitement around him but him just staying there in the one spot, rooted to his boredom if you will.

So I went with a shutter speed of about 2 seconds. I put the camera into Shutter Priority and took a shot with the self-timer cable. I took a few shots just to be sure and was amazed to find that nobody in the picture seemed to have moved over those two seconds! Sure there was a little blur in some of the figures but pretty much everybody was totally still while the shutter was open, looking up the the whirling rides.

Now that's a bonus that was totally unplanned for. And that's why I love using slow shutter speeds at night.

1 comment:

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) said...

the ticket guy was in the world, but not of it

~ always there are learning moments