2021 Week 14: Creative Shutter Speed

“Skater Boy” by Tonya Bender: 1/640 sec

This week we are taking a trip back to our camera settings and focusing (no pun intended) on specifically shutter speed and why it is important both technically and creatively. As we learned during the Exposure Triangle challenge, shutter speed plays a key role in how bright or how dark our image can be. Although adjusting shutter speed for exposure is very important, there are other effects shutter speed has on how our image looks.

Fast Shutter Speeds

Technically speaking, fast shutter speeds allow less light in creating darker images and should be utilized when hand holding your camera when sharp images are desired. More creatively a fast shutter speed will freeze or “stop” a moving subject as illustrated in the above image “Skater Boy”. Other popular moving subjects that fast shutter speeds are used for include animals, children, and moving objects such as planes, trains, and automobiles 😂. Fast shutter speeds are also commonly used in sports photography; as a matter of fact, most cameras have a Sport or Action mode that will automatically increase the camera’s shutter speed. The below image, “Make Me Smile” is a great example of how a fast shutter speed can be utilized creatively. Notice how Jeanie used a very fast shutter of 1/1600 sec to “freeze” the wings of the hummingbird, which have an average speed around 53 beats per second!!

“Make Me Smile” by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero: 1/1600 sec

Slow Shutter Speeds

Conversely a slow shutter speed not only lets in more light, creating a brighter image, it is also creatively used to simulate motion called “motion blur”. Although this technique is best achieved using a tripod so that the remaining, stationary parts of the image are sharp and only the moving subject has motion blur, it is easily achieved by hand holding the camera by selecting just the right shutter speed and may require a bit of experimenting. The below image, “Blackwater Falls” was taken at a very slow shutter speed of 2 seconds and therefore a tripod was used to keep the remaining image sharp while the moving water shows the desired motion blur.

“Blackwater Falls” by Tonya Bender: 2 sec

Some good examples of using a slow shutter speed include showing the motion of water (example above), clouds, traffic; and even people or animals, especially when utilizing the Panning technique. Panning is another slow shutter-creative technique in which the camera is moved in coordination with the moving subject to create a “motion” blurred background while keeping the subject somewhat focused.

“A Spin on Panning” by Tonya Bender:

The above image “A Spin on Panning” is a creative twist on Panning in which I too was on the merry-go-round with the subject while hand holding the camera and therefore the camera was moving with the subject leaving the background to show motion blur.

A couple of other creative ways to utilize slow shutter speed are Light Painting and the technique In Camera Motion, or ICM, in which the photographer purposely moves the camera while the shutter is open to create an interesting or abstract image. The below example, “Bewilderness” show how ICM was used to create an abstract landscape image, also it is worth noting that the image was achieved hand holding the camera and without the use of a tripod.

“Bewilderness” by Tonya Bender: 1/50 sec

The Challenge

This week your challenge is to creatively use either a slow or fast shutter speed to obtain your image. Ultimately you must control your camera’s shutter speed by either manually setting it using manual mode or shutter priority mode, or by using the Sport setting which will force your camera to automatically set a fast shutter speed.

There are several linked resources and examples within this challenge that you can review to help and inspire you to create your image for this week, any colored highlighted text (possibly red text) can be clicked to link you to the resource it pertains to. For example you may want to begin by practicing again with the Canon Play simulator and be sure to take note on how slow vs. fast shutter speed settings affect the appearance of the plane’s propeller. The following two articles do a great job in further explaining shutter speed and examples on how to use it creatively: Digital Photography School and SLR Lounge. Also you can review past Trevor Carpenter Photochallenges that utilized creative shutter speeds, some of them are linked below for quick access. The choice of subject, shutter speed, and technique are open for you to choose but make sure to explain your creative process, the technique you chose, and your camera settings in your write up.

2020 Week 39: Objects in Motion

2020 Week 30: Light Painting

2018 Week 30: Motion Blur

2018 Week 19: B&W-Water

2017 Week 13: Minimalism- Panning Motion

2016 Week 4: Freeze Motion

2015 Week 39: Panning

2014 Week 6: Panning

2013 Week 50: Light Painting

The Challenge Summary

  • Take an image that creatively utilizes either a slow or fast shutter speed
  • Post your newly taken photo during the week of Sunday, April 4 through Saturday, April 10.
  • In your write up explain your creative process and include what shutter speed and/or technique you chose and why. Also include your camera settings (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO).
  • Please remember to comment on at least FIVE photo submissions this week by answering the question “why?” in your comments. In other words, “why do I like (or not like) this photo?” or “why did this photo catch my eye?” Thank you!

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Take a new photo for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Post your photo each week to our active communities on Facebook or Flickr(or both). Tag the photo:  #2021photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2021 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

About Tonya Bender

I am a self taught photographer from Allegany County Maryland where I reside in Little Orleans with my husband. My interest in photography began 20 years ago when my husband gifted me with my first film camera, a Canon AE-1. I dabbled in nature photography as well as portraits for a few years until shortly thereafter I put photography on hold to pursue my education in laboratory science and Chemistry. Upon graduating I combined my passions of learning and photography while exploring, practicing, and fine tuning my artistic style. With the use of my creative eye, my camera, and my processing skills I seek to create images that inspire emotion, thought, and interest. I first joined and started participating in The Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge in 2014. From the moment I submitted my first photo I knew I had found a new home. The members were so accepting, informative, and encouraging. I spent the next 6 years participating, learning, and creating in ways I never thought possible. I became more confident in my work which encouraged me to enter photography shows and competitions in which images I have created as a result of The Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge have won top prizes. A few years into my journey at The Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge I became a Guest Contributor and have written several of my own photo challenges for the group. I am honored to now take on a more permanent role as a contributor and administrator in hopes that my story and my challenges help inspire others just like this group has inspired me! If you are interested in seeing more of my work please check me out on Flicker at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyajbender/