This blog started as a place to point people who ask me about photography. One of the questions I hear most often (usually sports related) is about stopping action. When you leave your camera on automatic mode, you are at its mercy in this regard.
Shutter speed determines how long the exposure takes, and therefore how much of the subject's movement or camera's movement is captured in the frame. Faster shutter equals less recorded movement.
Many people are disappointed in their camera's ability to use faster shutter speed in dark areas, and this is one of the areas in photography where money ends up making a big difference. Newer and more expensive cameras and lenses are more sensitive, and let in more light to enable the higher shutter speeds.
The easiest way to play with the shutter speed is in "shutter priority" mode. You pick the shutter and iso, the the camera does the rest. For some reason, tV is the designation for shutter priority mode on the camera. If you know why, let me know.
Streams, waterfalls and fountains make great places to play with shutter speed, because at either end of the spectrum, motion stopped or blurred, there is a neat result.
Here is a run through of the same shot with corresponding shutter speeds of a fountain at the wonderful Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
1/400 Shutter Speed, the motion is mostly stopped. The focus point for this series is the rock in front, so the drops are out of focus on this one.
1/100 Shutter speed, the drops show a little movement, but are still separately defined elements.
1/50 Shutter speed, and you can really see some motion happening.
1/15 Shutter speed, and the drops are blurring together. To me, this looks closest to seeing the fountain in person.
1/5 Shutter speed and all definition is lost. Past this point, you get the silky-white water look that turns waterfalls into a surrealistic flowing look.
1/5 was also as slow a shutter speed possible on the 5D with this much light (Lowest ISO setting and highest aperture). To get more, you can add neutral-density filters on your lens to knock down the light a bit.
A tripod is recommended as well. I did not have mine for these shots, so I was kneeling on the ground "being" the tripod....
Using high shutter speeds is fun with water as well, to freeze droplets in mid air like the abstract looking thing at the top of the post.
Here are a few more shots from the FWBG...
Fountains acn make interesting background objects because of the organic shapes.. In this case it looks like a ghost!
The fountain makes an exclamation point for the end of the vine-covered walkway...
Hanging vines with water droplets, low Aperture setting, and that turned out even better than I had hoped...
Some flowers I've never seen before...
And roses of all shapes, sizes, varieties and colors...
The view down through the rose garden and fountains
And another abstract water droplet shot, just for the fun of it.