Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Experiment With Shutter Speed

One of the challenges of photography is figuring out how to make a still moment come to life.
By Kim Castleberry With Bryan Peterson, Photos By Bryan Peterson Published in Shooting
Experiment With Shutter Speed

Another way to paint is simply by zooming your lens, with or without a tripod. Peterson recommends framing the composition at the widest angle of any given zoom and then moving toward the longer end in a fluid smooth motion. At a St. Patrick's Day parade, as each group of police officers or firefighters walked by, he panned from right to left at 1/2 sec. while zooming his 70-200mm lens. This caused some cool shapes and color patterns to form.

For longer exposures of 4, 8 or 16 sec., try taking multiple exposures. While photographing Seattle's Space Needle at night, Peterson set his exposure to ƒ/16 for 8 sec., fired the shutter and slowly began turning the zoom from 120mm to 200mm over those 8 seconds. The effect is that the Needle and surrounding buildings look as though they have exploded. For a second attempt, he took three exposures at three different focal lengths over 8 seconds. He fired the shutter, waited two seconds while the exposure was recording the scene and quickly zoomed to the next focal length. The result looks cleaner than the first version.

Attach Camera (Setup)

Attach Camera (Final)

Attach The Camera To Anything That Moves

Using a clamp to attach the camera to different objects opens up new points of view from which to shoot. To get a view of a street from the perspective of a broom, Peterson attached a Manfrotto Magic Arm to the broom handle with the camera and a fisheye lens. He pre-focused the lens and started firing the shutter at 1/4 sec. With the broom handle in his left hand, he made gentle sweeps across the street.

In another shot, Peterson attached the camera to a shopping cart handle and photographed his friend's daughter as she was being pushed through the grocery store, tripping the shutter with a cable release. The result makes you feel like you're whizzing through the store with her.

Low-Light Photography

For a simple city skyline, Peterson advises setting the aperture to ƒ/8, raising the camera to the sky and adjusting shutter speed until a correct exposure is indicated. If after you've set the exposure the meter says the scene is underexposed, ignore it and shoot. Although the meter perceives them as dark buildings, they're not as dark as the meter reading. If you're shooting a scene with motion, set the aperture to at least ƒ/11, maybe ƒ/16, which increases the exposure time to 8 to 16 sec. The longer the exposure, the more motion will be recorded in the image.

Bryan Peterson has been a photographer for more than 30 years and has taught photography for 20 years. His other books include Understanding Exposure, Beyond Portraiture, Learn To See Creatively and Understanding Digital Photography. To see more of Peterson's work, go to

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