This exercise requires the selection of a subject that “moves several times or continuously”.
The process is to make a series of exposures ranging from the fastest available to the slowest available shutter speeds.
The images are to be compared and the slowest shutter speed that freezes movement identified.
To complete this exercise I chose three different subjects, firstly wine being poured into a glass, secondly a child playing football and finally car lights at dusk.
I found this a useful exercise as the three subjects were very different reinforcing the point that the “right” exposure is dependant upon the subject and the objective of the photograph.
On reflection I felt that freezing the streams of wine created the most powerful images for that subject. For the footballer the most interesting images were captured by freezing the footballer but blurring his feet and the ball (1/80) or having the completely blurred boy running at the goal (1/30).
There was less variation with the car lights and I preferred the faster shutter speed of 1.3 seconds to the light streams produced at 20 seconds; however, this was probably because the light streams were too much of a cliché whilst the partially blurred cars at least asked the viwer to look twice.
Set 1 – Pouring Wine
Using a tripod and cable release and a simple tabletop “studio” with three small LED lights I made a series of exposures from 1/8000 down to 1″. However after 1/25 the results were poor as it was difficult to keep the bottle still. The lights were not powerful enough for the set and in hindsight I think it would have been more effective to have used an off camera flashgun for speeds above 1/60.
These 6 images are a good representation of the set. From 1/8000 down to 1/500 the stream of wine and the splash in the glass is frozen. From 1/125 through to 1/25 there is an increasing amount of motion blur.
The effectiveness of each image is determined by a combination of the level of blur and the shapes created. I find that the pent up energy in the first two images (1/8000 & 1/2000) express movement as effectively as the blurred splash at 1/125 or the blurred stream at 1/25.
The slowest shutter speed that still freezes all the movement is at 1/500 and even then there is a hint of blur where the wine is splashing into the glass.
Set 2 – Football
These first 4 exposures. 1/2000 and 1/1000 completely freeze movement. At 1/500 there is slight motion blur on the ball but the boy is still enough to be frozen. At 1/125 the ball and the boys gloves are blurred.
In this second set of 4 exposures there is an increasing level of movement blur until at 1/4 both the boy and the ball have an ethereal quality.
I tried a few different set-ups including the one above where the boy ran quickly towards the ball. The exposure of 1/30 at f/13 creates a great sense of movement and I like the fact the boy is running from the left edge into the space containing the ball and the net. A simple but clear story.
The image below also works well for me, the boy is sharp but his foot and the ball are in motion. The exposure was 1/80 at f/4.
Set 3 – Car Lights
On the way home from photography the footballer I stopped on a bridge over a dual carriage to see whether car lights would be a good subject for the exercise. It was interesting partly because I learnt that using very long exposures on a tripod with a lens fitted with vibration reduction led to the lens creating vibration, or at least that is what appeared to happen. When using a 70 to 200mm lens I appeared to have severe camera shake despite the tripod and cable release. My first instinct was to think that cars crossing the bridge were causing vibration or that it was the wind but I tried another set of images with “VR” turned off and the “camera shake” disappeared.
I am only including two images from the set as exposure for car lights turns out to be fairly binary. It was clear that satisfactory “classic” car light results were only achieved at over 10 seconds and that 15s, and 20s made little difference. I assume that the speed of the cars on any given stretch of road and the length of light streams required will dictate which shutter speed to use over 10s.
In the above image taken at 1.3 seconds and f/5.6 the vehicle shapes can just about be determined. I will try this again with a wet road and with a bit more traffic.
The second image which I under-exposed by 2 stops as it was not quite dark enough to work is a clichéd car lights shot taken with a 20 second exposure.
In truth the road was not busy enough and there is nothing else of interest in the photograph. To work better it needs a busier road and some fixed lights in he background, for example if the foot bridge was lit or if there were horizontal light streams crossing the image on the bridge.