Planning the Shutter Speed Exercises

ND8_8524I must make a note to not start TAoP in October.

I have just about managed the first two exercises under lights but it is stretching my imagination too far to complete “Shutter Speeds” or “Panning” indoors. So, as I am trying to be disciplined and working for a couple of hours each evening I thought I would look back at some of my own recent photos to see how I have dealt with shutter speed.

Before I even looked I knew that panning was not something I was going to find examples of but I was hopeful of finding some intentional movement blur. I restricted my search to edited images as this would better show how I was thinking when I reviewed any given set of originals. I restricted my search to photos of the grand-children as, if anything was going to be moving, it would be them.

I am not particularly  surprised that I only found examples of shutter speed to freeze movement. Here are three examples, all photographs that I hitherto liked, where I could have  created a much greater sense of movement with better technique and more creativity.


In this photograph I like the shape and colour and know that the see-saw was moving but I have intentionally chosen a speed (1/400) to freeze that movement. It is only the shape of the child to the left that shows that anything is happening.


Much the same story, by being head on to the subject and freezing the action with 1/1000, the image lacks a real sense of movement.


This one is nearest to achieving a sense of movement as the subject is frozen in mid-air and it communicates that he is running. (f/2.8 at 1/1000).

This quick analysis of subjects where there is plenty of action reveals something about my style that I need to think hard about. I think I like sharpness too much. I know I like strong colours, strong shapes and crisp images. For many years I was very focussed on landscape photography where those three elements were generally beneficial, now I am trying to move forward with more creative photography and I think that I need to take greater care not to bring my old landscape objectives to every subject. I feel that I am missing the chance to tell a much more exciting story about the grand-children growing up by freezing their all-go-action as if I was a Victorian studio photographer limited by a glass plate camera on a tripod.

I want to use the shutter speed and panning exercises as the start of a process to improve my technique but more importantly to be more creative and produce a more interesting narrative. Roll on the weekend.


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