Slow it all down

For beau­ti­ful blurry ef­fects, shoot sub­jects in mo­tion us­ing a long ex­po­sure

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

Fast-mov­ing sub­jects re­quire an ex­tra-fast shut­ter speed to freeze the ac­tion. A shut­ter speed of 1/200 sec sounds fast, but if there’s any sig­nif­i­cant move­ment in ei­ther cam­era or sub­ject, it’ll usu­ally re­sult in blur. One of 1/2000 sec is more suited to fast-mov­ing sub­jects like birds.

The prob­lem with freez­ing move­ment is that we can lose the sense of speed that is so vi­tal to the shot. This is why sports and ac­tion pho­tog­ra­phers will of­ten look for ways to im­ply the speed, per­haps by in­clud­ing a spray of wa­ter, or hair bil­low­ing in the wind. An­other way to give im­ages a sense of move­ment is to use a slow shut­ter speed, so that the mov­ing parts of the im­age are recorded as blur. With ac­tion shots you can ei­ther blur the sub­ject and keep ev­ery­thing else sharp, or try pan­ning with the sub­ject so that they are recorded sharply and ev­ery­thing else comes out as blur. Or there’s a third op­tion: blur ev­ery­thing and rely on the smudgy shapes and colours to tell the story. It’ll re­sult in a com­plete loss of fine de­tail, but with the right sub­ject, some­times the sense of mo­tion trumps the need for de­tail. (See page 86 for more on ways to cap­ture speed.)

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