Sunday, 10 October 2010

A way of seeing: Project - photographing movement

Exercise: Shutter speeds

Aim:  The aim of this exercise was to capture movement from a fixed position using a range of different shutter speeds.

Results:  My first choice for this exercise was a section of dual carriageway near to where I live.  This didn't work very well.  Even though I could complete the exercise, the images were dull and boring and also dependant on the varying speed of the traffic.  So I moved on to the big wheel in the centre of Manchester.  This had a fixed speed and was a much more interesting subject.  I also chose it because I have photographed various wheels before and it is easy to make them look unrealistically fast.

The problem with shooting the wheel was that it was a bright day and I needed to use long shutter speeds.  As I was inevitably going to end up shooting up at the wheel I tried to cut out most of the sky by using a building in the background.  The glass front also added some interest as it reflected the wheel.  I also used an ND filter and ISO 100 to slow the camera down.  I walked round the wheel for a while looking at different angles before settling on the final position.

The following 12 images show a gradual shortening of the shutter speed from 1.7 seconds through to 1/30th of a second.

The movement is frozen at the shortest exposure (1/30th sec) but this is not the best picture. 

1/30 sec F5.6

The longest exposure gives a sense of movement but this is too much and gives the impression that the wheel is moving unaturally fast.

1.7 secs F25

The 'best' (most representative) image is 1/6 sec, giving the closest impression of the speed of the wheel.
1/6 sec F13

Learning points:

The right shutter speed needs to be selected to re-create movement that is representative of the subject.  If you had never seen a wheel like the one in this exercise then the image at 1/6th sec would give you the best impression of the real movement.  Alternatively you can give a deliberately artificial impression, if this is the result you are looking for, by using a longer or shorter shutter speed.  The phrase 'the camera never lies' springs to mind.  The camera does allow you to present a completely different view of an identical scene.

Test the extremes at the start of the exercise so you know it will work!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeff, I have reviewed the images, but they are so small I am struggling to make out any detail. Could I suggest a link to Flickr, when you click on the image and it takes you straight there? Or as you suggested a slide show or even your Flickr feed linked on the side bar.

    In retrospect I think you were wise to choose a steadily moving image, it gives the best results for comparison.