Shutter Speed (Exposure Series Part 4 of 5)
Myfotoguy series on exposure part 4 of 5
London Eye in London, lit up at night. 60 second exposure. Image by William Warby licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license
Review of Shutter Speeds
Besides the requirement of shutter speed for proper exposure, shutter speed can be used creatively.
When a camera creates an image, that image does not represent a single instant of time. Because of technological constraints or artistic requirements, the image represents the scene over a period of time. As objects in a scene move, an image of that scene must represent an integration of all positions of those objects, as well as the camera's viewpoint, over the period of exposure determined by the shutter speed. In such an image, any object moving with respect to the camera will look blurred or smeared along the direction of relative motion. This smearing may occur on an object that is moving or on a static background if the camera is moving. In a film or television image, this looks natural because the human eye behaves in much the same way.
Because the effect is caused by the relative motion between the camera, and the objects and scene, motion blur may be avoided by panning the camera to track those moving objects. In this case, even with long exposure times, the objects will appear sharper, and the background more blurred.
Excessively fast shutter speeds can cause a moving subject to appear unnaturally frozen. For instance, a running person may be caught with both feet in the air with all indication of movement lost in the frozen moment.
When a slower shutter speed is selected, a longer time passes from the moment the shutter opens till the moment it closes. More time is available for movement in the subject to be recorded by the camera.
A slightly slower shutter speed will allow the photographer to introduce an element of blur, either in the subject, where, in our example, the feet, which are the fastest moving element in the frame, might be blurred while the rest remains sharp; or if the camera is panned to follow a moving subject, the background is blurred while the subject remains sharp.
The following list provides an overview of common photographic uses for standard shutter speeds.
On top of the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. A shutter speed of 5 seconds was used to capture this night time scene of a patrol car passing.
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