How to use shutter speed effectively in DSLR photography?

Shutter speed is the duration of light falling on the digital image sensor. It is the time for which light stays on the image sensor to make a perfect exposure. It is controlled by a mechanism housed in the camera body closer to the focal plane (image sensor).

The role of shutter speed in photography is very important and can produce interesting effects that human eye cannot see. The very meaning or understanding of a photo can be changed by varying the shutter speed.

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Fast shutter speeds like 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000 and above will let the exposure very brief and slow shutter speeds like 1/30, 1/15, 1/8 and below will let the exposure long.

Total flash photography needs a shutter speed 1/200 (flash sync speed) or below for most of the cameras. There is no impact of flash exposure by changing the shutter speeds when there is not enough ambient light.

Jerome Desilva (26)

Shutter speeds higher than the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens used will guarantee images without camera shake when a tripod is not used – A 400mm lens needs atleast 1/400 shutter speed and a 18mm lens needs just 1/20 shutter speed to avoid camera shake.

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Fast shutter speeds can assure crispy and sharp images without camera shake and apparent subject motion effects.

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Fast shutter speeds like 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000 and above are used to arrest the fast motion – faster shutter speeds can capture fast actions we missed to see. Use highest possible shutter speeds for shooting sports, birds in flight, wild life action – shutter speed higher than 1/500 is a good choice.

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Slow shutter speeds like 1/15,1/8,1/4 and bellow are used to record movements as a blur – some of these blurring effects  like panning and zoom burst are unique that human eyes cannot see .

Sendil Selvam (10)

Long exposures like 1sec, 2secs, 4secs, 8secs and longer can produce beautiful light streaks – something we cannot see with our eyes. Use of a tripod is a must for such shots.

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Bulb shutter denoted by ‘B’ is a longer than the 30secs preset shutter speeds available, is something used for very low light shots, fire works, lightning, light painting and abstract images. Use of a tripod is a must for such shots.

Mandeep 2014 (1)

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How to create the feel of depth in the photos?

The feel of depth can be understood as the feel of walking through the photo. A photo is two-dimensional and the feel of three dimension is all about the feel of depth in it. An illusion of the third dimension is tried in all the photos to give the feel of reality. It is the added perspective mainly from the point of view. Our eyes can see in three dimension as the scene in front of us is not flat. The feel of variable distance of different objects in the frame is known as the feel of depth.

To establish the depth, the photo must contain multiple planes or layers in it. May be foreground middle ground and a background._MG_4178c

The following tips may give us a feel depth in our photos

  1. Use wide-angle lenses for a greater feel of variation of the object sizes in the frame and the feel of distance in it.IMG_9664c
  1. Avoid using very long focal length lenses as they compress the scene and make it look very flat without depth.
  1. Lookout for multiple planes or layers as seen from the point of view. Every distinct planes will give an additional feel of depth in the photo.IMG_0404c
  1. Include or add a foreground element in the scene to get a comparative distance from the main subject_MG_4723c
  2. Lookout for visually identifiable real or imaginary lines or curves running from the corner of the frame diagonally across. This will give an illusion of depth and distance.IMG_9490c
  1. Avoid flat front lighting and use sidelight with good shadows to define the planes and distance.
  1. Shoot from a diagonal angle to give the feel of diminishing perspective. This will give a feel of depth to the scene.   IMG_0242c
  1. Include repetitive and overlapping patterns to add the feel of depth
  1. Use shallow depth of field while shooting portraits and people shots. The out of focus background will give the feel of extra distance from the main subject._MG_0005c

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How to avoid camera blur on subject?

Camera shake or camera blur is a crucial problem while shooting in slow shutter speeds and it is a major issue with the beginners. It is the feel of visual jerk or vibration seen in a photo. A point and shoot instinct without understanding the effect of slow shutter speeds results in camera blur. The image looks unclear, without sharpness and the out line of the subject is not well-defined when there is a camera shake.

This is a big challenge if you are a nature/wild life/sports/macro photographer using long focal length lenses. Lenses with built-in tripod collars (70-200mm, 100-400mm) are supposed to be used on a tripod especially you are shooting in the available light.

The following tips will help us get rid of unwanted camera shake resulting in blurry pictures.

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  1. Use faster shutter speeds possible in a given situation.
  2. Try increasing the ISO sensitivity or larger apertures instead of reducing the shutter speeds in low light conditions when you are not using a tripod.
  3. Choose a shutter speed higher than the reciprocal of focal length of the lens while shooting the camera hand-held. For example, use 1/60 while shooting at 50mm and 1/125 while shooting at 105mm. This does not matter when your camera is on a solid tripod.
  4. Use fast lenses (lenses with wider maximum apertures viz.f/2.8,f/1.4,f/1.2 etc.). Fast lenses will give you scopes to use fast shutter speeds.
  5. Activate IS or VR image stabilization technology of your camera/lens for shooting below the reciprocal principle as mentioned in point 3. This may let you shoot at least two stops lower than the reciprocal principle._MG_0026r
  6. Use sturdy tripods to hold on the weight of your camera plus lens and other accessories perfectly and confirm the camera is not shaking during the exposure.
  7. If you do not have a sturdy tripod, you can try holding the camera firmly by leaning on to a stable support or you can even use a sand bag and set your camera on it.
  8. For very slow shutter speeds and long exposures do not press the shutter release directly with your fingers; instead use the remote shutter release or self timer release.
  9. When shooting in live view mode (both still images and video) hand-held camera operations, use the camera strap on your neck and stretch in front tight to hold the camera steady.
  10. Check your image at 100% magnification level to identify the camera shake. The LCD on the back of your camera cannot give you a clue about camera blur in its normal display.

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How to take advantage of shapes?

Shape is the first visual information human eye can take to understand a subject. From our childhood, we learn a lot from shapes. A recognizable shape is what makes us relate things subconsciously.

What is shape in photography? Shape is a definite distinctive form, something which is distinguished from its surrounding by its out line. It is two dimensional element of basic picture composition in photography. It usually helps us to identify the object.
SeafoodThis out line of the subject changes when we change the point of view.  That is, when we move to different point of view the shape of the subject changes quickly. Some times this out line is not defined well and hence we cannot understand the subject. To define a subject, we must get an identifiable shape from an appropriate angle. We need to move around to see as how the shape of a subject is changing and how relevant is the point of view chosen.

To get the best of the shape in any subject the following tips may be tried

  1. Move around the subject to find a recognizable or attractive shape
  1. Choose a relatively clear background without clutter and confusion
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  1. Find a contrasting colours or tones in the background to make the subject stand out in shape.
  1. Overlapping patterns or objects must be avoided to get the advantage of shape.
  1. Make the background out of focus to separate the subject shape clearly – use shallow depth of field controls.
    Pushkar Camel Fair - Rajasthan
  1. A strong rim light or back light all around the subject can pronounce the shapes more powerfully than a flat front light.
  1. The shapes without colour, texture and details are very interesting. They are called, ‘silhouettes’ in photography. Silhouettes are very powerful and aesthetic means of shape.
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  1. Avoiding the camouflaging background will improve the feel of the shape.
  1. A side angle or a total profile shot will be ideal for identifying birds and animals distinctively.
  1. The identifiable shapes in the architecture makes the photos very strong in terms of its beauty and understanding.
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How to look for different/unusual view points

A photograph looks different when it is shot from an unusual point of view. An unusual point of view is a view that many photographers would not have tried. May be it is something very contemporary or unconventional. A conventional photograph is one that is normally shot from a comfortable zone. When we try to jump out of a common path the photo automatically becomes different. The unusual point of view creates an extra attention to the photo.

The following tips may help you to shoot something unusual.

  1. Come out of the tourist instinct and avoid seeing things from a gallery point of view or a tourist guide’s point of view.

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  1. Go around the subject if possible or visualize the other sides of the subject.

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  1. Step out of the common path…and refrain from shooting along with most other persons with a camera.

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  1. Avoid eyelevel point of view as far as possible. Look at the subject little from a low level or climb up little elevations.

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  1. Include some interesting foreground… a suitable or meaningful foreground will make the point of view truly unusual.

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  1. Shoot through arches, doorways, holes, fences, jolly etc. to make it interesting.

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  1. Look for interesting reflections in the foreground or background.

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  1. Shoot people from others point of view – an over the shoulder shot will be exciting and unusual.

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  1. Overlap the subject meaningfully on to a suitable background to make the subject unusual.

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  1. Use extra wide-angle lenses for unusual perspective distortions and visual effects.

Rajasthan

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