June 30, 2011

#26 – Freeze or create motion with shutter speed.

You are a camera superhero.

Seriously – you have an incredible power at your fingertips, one that allows you to instantly freeze – or unfreeze time. Just like that.

All you need to do is lean on your shutter speed. Turn your camera to P, Av, Tv /S – instead of those wimpy Auto settings – and  just move your shutter speed up and down. Just remember that when you do this, you’re affecting the amount of light you’re getting into the camera. These settings should adjust the aperture (and sometimes ISO) accordingly.

Freeze most things – use a faster shutter speed.
When you change your shutter speed, you’re really changing what your camera sees. A fast shutter speed – like 1/500 – means your camera only looks around for 1/500th of a second. It won’t see much moving around in that amount of time, so it’ll freeze anything that’s moving less than a horse in full gallop.

Freeze everything – use your flash.
Remember when you were a kid and you went to Chuck E. Cheese and played in the strobe light room? You’d bounce around and everything would look frozen for the instant that the light was flashing. That’s what your onboard camera flash can do. It’ll shoot a burst of (mostly ugly) light to freeze stuff in motion – no matter what your shutter speed is.
Unfreeze everything – use a longer shutter speed.

Here’s the coolest thing of all. If you want to show something moving, you need to open up the shutter. Want to get a great shot of a pitcher throwing a baseball? Dial down to 1/30th of a second and see what happens. This is a great trick for fireworks. More on that tomorrow.

Advanced bonus: Here's how to do the shot above (it's hard, but a lot of fun). Open your shutter and move your camera in sync with the player. That way the background is blurred by the motion and the player stays sharp.

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