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In darkness, the reverse is true.

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As photographers, we often find ourselves in situations where there is more than one moving element. Since the plane is my subject, I keep it in perfect focus by using a shutter speed that is fast enough to freeze it as it flies by. However, an image of an airplane with no suggestion of motion whatsoever tends to be static and boring. To create a balance between motion and clarity, I make sure that my shutter speed is not so fast that it also stops the spinning propellers.

As you can see, there is no tried and true rule for blurring some elements and not others — it all comes down to a judgment call based on available light and the speeds at which objects are moving through the frame. Another important concept that relies heavily on shutter speed is long exposure photography. Long exposures encompass a variety of photographic techniques, including nighttime landscapes such as those Ansel Adams was noted for, light painting and even waterfalls.

Slow shutter speeds let you capture just enough light to make gorgeous moonlit landscapes, or they let you slow down time to create silky smooth waterfalls. If you love light paintings, use long shutter speeds to let a friend create beautiful patterns with a bright light.

The shutter speed needs to be long enough to catch the moving light, but fast enough to make the person holding the light disappear. Sometimes, breaking rules better serves a photograph. Experienced photographers know that the rules are best followed most of the time, but not always!

2 – Choose a slow shutter speed

Will is a photographer and his love of the arts have always been a part of his life. Join Will as he shares his thoughts and adventures in the art of photography. Freezing Motion One of the easiest things to do is to use extremely high shutter speeds to freeze motion entirely. You may also like. The problem with the histogram is that you have to interpret it. What does the histogram of a good exposure look like? Well, that depends. And it mainly depends on the subject you are photographing.

Because a histogram represents the tonal brightness values of the scene photographed, its appearance is determined by the content of the scene. As this series of photos and accompanying histograms shows, the histogram that represents a good exposure depends on the subject. I know the scene was correctly exposed because the histogram easily contains all the tonal values and the values are in the correct locations within the histogram. Most importantly, the histogram shows that the dark tones and light tones have been exposed correctly.

A histogram for white clouds peaks on the right side of the graph without jamming against the far right because the clouds are white. A histogram for a black cat falls to the far left where the dark values live, but again without jamming against the left border or wall of the histogram. Jamming against either the right or left border is a definite sin in the world of exposure. A great exposure maximizes the tonal values—and therefore the subject detail— of any given scene.

To complement the histogram, most cameras offer an overexposure too bright warning. When you are reviewing the picture not the histogram , the overexposure warning flashes typically in red on the areas that have been overexposed. Some cameras have an underexposure warning that flashes in the dark areas when the picture is underexposed. Both warnings are a quick visual reference that you should adjust your camera settings to let in less light if overexposed or more light if underexposed and take another picture.

The concept of correct exposure remains consistent throughout all combinations of shutter speed and aperture settings.

Whatever the combination, whatever the shooting situation, you need to deliver a specific amount of light to the sensor to create a picture that looks good. Like a pair of sibling teenagers, aperture and shutter speed controls vie for your attention. What combination of shutter speed and aperture settings will work for that seashore scenic, the ideal one with waves crashing on the black rocks in the foreground and a freshly whitewashed lighthouse in the background? Or should you use a faster shutter speed?

Artistically, you may be forced to make tradeoffs in choosing your shutter speedaperture combinations. Just like balancing your budget, you may need to decide whether you can afford that new big screen TV, or if you need to take care of that rattling noise in the car. Life is full of tradeoffs, right?

Creative Shutter Speed - O'Reilly Media

However, much of this book is devoted to helping you avoid making tradeoffs. By learning the important settings and accessories that affect the exposure settings you make, you can often achieve the shutter speed-aperture combinations that fit your creative needs. The easiest way to expand depth of field is to set the camera to AperturePriority mode so you can directly select the aperture you want to use.

The central principle is that a variety of aperture-shutter speed combinations can let in the same amount of light to give a correct exposure, or an equivalent exposure. The end result is that you have delivered the same amount of light to the sensor. So why would you want to change aperture and shutter speed settings? The reason is usually for creative As this series shows, an equivalent amount of light can be delivered by many different combinations of shutter speed and aperture settings.

Again, the goal for using equivalent exposure settings is to admit an identical amount of light to the camera to correctly expose the picture. If you change the shutter speed, you must also change the f-stop of the aperture in the Table Equivalent Exposure Settings opposite direction. And vice versa. Here I wanted to use a large aperture so the rose would appear sharp and stand out against an out-of-focus background. The principle of correct exposure stands firm. Well, not always. Your camera meter measures the light reflected from the scene and indicates the amount required for correct exposure; then you adjust—or your camera adjusts—the shutter speed and aperture opening to deliver the correct amount of light to the sensor.

So what happens if the amount of light required for correct exposure prevents you from setting the shutter speed you want to use? You have several options. All but one work with the principle of exposure, so that means if you want to use a slower shutter speed, you must reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor. Of if you want a faster shutter speed, you must reduce the amount of light required by the sensor—or, more difficult—increase the amount of light reaching the sensor. Start by setting the shutter speed you want to use that means you should be using the Shutter-Priority mode.

Now point your camera at the scene and take a meter reading to see if your camera chooses an aperture that gives correct exposure. You have several options to adjust settings to achieve a good exposure, and sometimes you may need to combine these options in order to maximize your ability to achieve that desired shutter speed. Raise the ISO speed if your meter indicates you are underexposing the scene, which would be common in dimly lit scenes or when using extremely fast shutter speeds.

Lower it if you are overexposing the scene, which would be common when you are trying to use a very slow shutter speed on a sunny day. Another option is to choose another lens, one with a smaller aperture if you are trying to set a slower shutter speed, or one with a larger aperture if you are trying to set a faster shutter speed.

If the light is too dim, you can increase it.


  • Freeze the action or capture motion blur.
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Take the picture at your preferred shutter speed and then adjust for exposure problems in Adobe Camera Raw. But then again, maybe they are. It adjusts an image to compensate for scene lighting that might be unusually or unnaturally tinted, so that subject colors appear normal and natural in a wide variety of lighting. And it also attempts to keep white objects looking white, even if the scene illumination changes and casts color onto them.

Imagine a bride resplendent in wedding dress standing under fluorescent lights. You take a picture and her dress appears a sickly green color because the white balance setting was incorrect or ineffective. Your camera captures any slight tint Many photographers love the warm golden rays accompanying sunrise and sunset and rather than neutralizing it with white balance settings instead seek to preserve it.

Reflect a moment on what it is that you actually see.

Tips for Turning Blurry Pictures Into Art With Motion Blur Photography

Your eyes see light reflected from objects. The source of light might be the sun, a tungsten lamp, a flickering candle, a campfire, a floodlight, fluorescent lights, or another kind of light source. Each of these lights has its own color cast or tint which is imparted to any subject reflecting that light. Still not convinced? What color is the sun at sunrise and sunset? Of course, setting and rising suns are a deep orange, sometimes almost red.

Shutter Speed Explained for the Beginning Photographer

And at midday? Subjects illuminated by midday sun appear quite normal in The orange rising sun illuminated these white ceramic greyhounds placed on a table opposite my open front door. Not surprisingly, when subjects are bathed by the rich orange lighting coming from a setting sun, they pick up some of that orange coloration. Artificial lights add their own colors casts. Tungsten household bulbs give pictures a distinct orangish cast; fluorescent lights can add a touch of green or greenish blue—and give faces an almost sickly color.

Weather, too, affects the quality of lighting. Cloudy days are a bit bluish, and shady areas illuminated by a cloudless blue sky are even bluer. Some color casts, particularly from a setting sun, can be pleasant. To allow you to both counteract color casts and achieve neutral colors, your camera provides a White Balance control. It typically offers eight settings: midday sunlight, cloudy, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, automatic, and custom.

The problem is you need to remember to change the setting when the light changes.


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Therefore, many photographers—the self-confessed absent-minded ones, anyway—simply set the camera to the automatic white balance setting and let it work its wonders under all types of light. Point the camera at a white card in the same light as your subject, position it so it fills the picture area, and take a reading. The camera adjusts its 85 Chapter 2 Understanding Shutter Speed and Exposure White balance setting: Auto internal color settings to render the image of the card white, and when you take your picture the colors in the scene will be neutral—as if they were being lit by the midday sun.

The most flexible method of all is to simply use the RAW file format.


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When you open the RAW file, it lets you adjust the color balance either by clicking on a white or gray object in the scene, or by adjusting a color temperature slider.