Monday, February 8, 2010

Using slow shutter speed and blur to advantage

Although blur is to be avoided in most cases, it can sometimes be an effective creative tool. A slow shutter speed will capture the feeling of motion because the part moving will be blurred, yet the subject itself will be sharp. Panning is another way to get the feeling of action. We’ve probably heard this term before in relation to motion picture-taking. Basically it refers to following the subject’s movement by moving the camera. When we do this with an SLR camera, the background becomes a flow of movement and as long our focusing is good and we have stayed with the subject, it will be reasonably sharp. And even if it’s not so what? Maybe a totally blurred image of, for example a motorcyclist would be better effect than a sharper one. Anyway, a slight turn of either TV for Canon camera or S for Nikon is all you need for shutter priority mode where we set the shutter required the camera will set the aperture. The only thing we have to be careful of is not to choose the speed so slow that no one can tell what we are attempting to shoot.

Panning involves nothing more complex than following the lateral movement of the subject with the camera. Although the background is blurred by the camera movement, the subject is, if pan is successful, totally sharp. Smoothness is the most important quality of successful panning, and over a moderate angle of view, it is usually best to pan by swivelling at the wrist rather than just twisting head and arms. How much panning can reduce the shutter speed needed for a sharply frozen image depends on smoothness of the pan and whether the subject itself contains any movement in other direction.

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