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Beginner's Guide To DSLR Photography With Mike Browne - Part Four

Mike Browne from PhotographyCourses.Biz explains how to capture motion.

|  Digital Camera Operation
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  Mike Browne
Hello again and welcome to part 4 of my series of beginners guides. Back in Part One I introduced you to shutters and apertures and what they are. This week I’m going to get more in depth about your shutter and how you can use shutter speed creatively.

This exercise is straight from our beginner’s photography DVD Digital Photography Exposed – the movie. So if you’d like to see me doing it for real you know what to do!

But first let’s re-cap a little. In Beginners Guide Part Two we looked at combining shutter and aperture to make a manual exposure and how one compensates for what you do with the other. Last week in Part Three we explored using your aperture to be creative with depth of field, that’s how much is sharp from front to back in an image.

But it’s Part Two which you might need to revisit most because that’s where you’ll learn how to control both manually.

So if we’re all sitting comfortably let’s begin...

When you take a picture the camera’s shutter opens, light comes flooding down the lens, through the aperture and hits the camera’s sensor which records an image. You probably know that much already. Now – provided nothing’s moving during this open shutter moment a nice sharp image is recorded. But if you or the subject is moving whilst the shutter is open there’s a possibility something will blur – particularly if you are using a slow shutter speed.

If you want to freeze this blur you have to use a shutter speed so fast that light from whatever is moving can’t move far enough across the sensor to blur.

We don’t usually see ‘movement blur’ with our eyes at all unless something is moving so fast it’s almost unrecognisable. This is because our eyes can move and record millions of images incredibly quickly. Then our brains sort out this jigsaw into one coherent image in less than the blink of an eye. But your camera can’t do that. The good news is you can get some really interesting images because of it. What you capture is a sense of movement.

This is the basis of the classic blurry waterfall.

But it works for more than just waterfalls. Let’s take a look at the images of Natasha spinning under the pier from Beginners Guide Part One.

When using a slow shutter speed to make a moving subject blur like this use a cable release so you don’t wobble the camera during the exposure. The objective is to have a blurred model and a sharp building, if the camera moves even a tiny bit during the exposure both will blur.

Print this page, go out and do this for yourself because it’s in getting out there and doing it you’ll learn how to control movement. It works best if you set up in the shade where the light isn’t too bright and don’t move your camera or composition between the exercises.

First let’s make a blurred subject.
  1. Set up your camera on a tripod and include something un-movable in the composition. The corner of a building will do fine. Make sure there’s enough space for your model.
  2. Select a slow ¼ second shutter speed.
  3. Decrease the size of your aperture to make up for the slow shutter speed so you get the correct exposure. Refer to Beginners Guide Part Two if you don’t know how to do this
  4. Set your model spinning and using the cable release, take some images.
  5. Repeat this exercise with slower and faster shutter speeds. As you increase the speed the blur will be less. As you decrease the speed the blur will be more.
IMPORTANT: In step 5 don’t forget to change your aperture each time you change your shutter speed. Work with your light meter to get the right one.

Next we’ll freeze the motion for a sharp subject.

To freeze movement you have to set a fast enough shutter speed to prevent the subject’s movement blurring as it moves across the sensor. Exactly what that speed is depends on how fast the movement is, so you’ll have to experiment:
  1. Set a shutter speed of at least 125th second.
  2. Set an aperture wide enough to get the light meter telling you you have the correct exposure. Don’t forget you might need to increase your ISO – refer back to Beginners Guide Part Two if you need help with this.
  3. Once you have the correct exposure set your model to spinning and shoot some images.
  4. If your model is blurred increase your shutter speed – not forgetting to open your aperture as you do so to maintain the correct exposure
It doesn’t matter if the images you shoot aren’t award winners. I just want you to practice, understand and master the technique so when you’re confronted with a waterfall, leaves on a stream, lines of slow moving traffic, dancers, a dining room full of people at a wedding or any of many thousands of opportunities to shoot movement – you’ll know how to tackle it.

Watch out for Beginners Guide Part Five in a couple of weeks time where I’ll explain all about ISO and how to use it. If in the mean time you’re hungry for more, come and see us at PhotographyCourses.Biz.

Until next time...


You can read the other articles in Mike Browne's series here:
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