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Shutter Speed

It is defined as “the amount of time that the shutter is opened”. 

I won’t really go into detail of how this works. If you want to know more, please read up the article on “Introduction to Shutter Speed in Digital Photography” at DPS. There are lots of articles on tips & tutorials when you read on. I’ve been reading lots and lots of articles from this site, every single day without fail. It helps me theoretically and I would apply them into actions when I’m out with my camera.

So, tonight was the night that I put into action of what I’ve read about shutter speed. After dropping Ethan for his Chinese class, I grabbed by camera & tripod (which I’ve already packed them in my car when we left the house) and headed to a nearby pedestrian overhead bridge. And down below was the TPE highway at its busiest time at 8pm, when everyone was heading home from work. The sky was clear and the highway was brightly lighted up. And so I started setting up my tripod, propped my camera on it using my 3 weeks old 50mm f/1.4 lens, attached the shutter release cable to minimize the movement of the camera and I started playing around with the shutter speed.

After reading plenty of articles on shutter speed settings and how to achieve different effects using the function, I switched the camera mode to TV (on a Canon), which means Shutter Speed Priority. I would have to manually set my desired shutter speed and the aperture setting will be automatically set.

I’ve always wanted to capture images of moving traffic with blurred headlights and when you see them, the headlights of cars actually turned into strips of lights on the street, and the rest are clear and sharp.

What I’ve learned is that to be able to achieve this effect, I have to set my camera reading to a slow shutter speed as this will allow longer exposure, hence it will allow more light to enter the lens and I will get a well exposed image for the night scene (provided the exposure and ISO settings are also right). Propping my camera on a tripod and using shutter release cable will prevent camera shake (which can result in blur images).

I first tried setting the shutter speed at 1/3 of a second and the aperture was automatically set at f/3.5. And here was my 1st attempt.

This was not what I wanted as the cars were still visible.

On my 2nd attempt, I reduced the shutter speed to 3.2 seconds with an aperture reading of f/9 (as I decreased the shutter speed, the aperture reading increased) and here’s the effect.

I wasn’t happy with this either as you can see the light strips were ‘broken’. I didn’t leave the shutter opened long enough to get a better effect.

My 3rd attempt, I increased the shutter speed significantly to 30 seconds with an aperture of f/22.

Whoa!! This was pretty cool, finally seeing the continuous light strips but then again, this wasn’t what I wanted. lol…lo…. Yes, I am a hard person to please. 😉 But the hub loves this! It’s more dramatic according to him.

And I tried again a few more times, reducing and increasing the shutter speed by fractions of seconds and finally………………….. at 15 seconds with an aperture of f/22, exposure -2 and ISO200, I achieved my perfect shot (at least to me).

I think this is the right exposure with the right setting for my first session at trying out slow shutter speed capturing moving traffic in the night. Phew, that was a long sentence! lol…lol…. I’m totally thrilled with my evening with these session and I will be trying again in a different scene.

Ohhh…………I have to tell you this joke. While I was up on the bridge standing behind my tripod and camera, the cars below actually thought I was a traffic police officer trying to capture cars that were speeding!! And many cars on the road actually slowed down when they approached the bridge and saw me behind my camera!! Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!! This was simply hilarious!! I tell you, I was having a good time taking photos and ‘pretending’ to be taking pictures of traffic offenders. 😉

Anyway, hope you like what you see here and I’ll be back again soon once I take more photos using the shutter speed priority function.

 Good night!

  • SitiJanuary 28, 2010 - 12:16 am

    Hi Leena, I actually like the 3rd photo because of the star-burst effect from the lights of the lamp posts! Nicee!

  • totoro47January 29, 2010 - 12:49 pm

    nice pictures!
    you can try using water (movements) as ur subject next.. like waves, waterfalls etc.. i tried once earlier this year at changi beach.. very very fun.. beautiful effects.. like what we see on tavel magazines/posters..

  • PooiJanuary 29, 2010 - 2:03 pm

    i thot the 3 photo was too cooooool! like it a lot 🙂

  • RenoaJanuary 31, 2010 - 1:59 am

    Simply amazing photo work Leena!!!

  • StacyJanuary 31, 2010 - 1:41 pm

    Wow Leena, amazing work! I did try my hand at this. However, my camera has its limitations! I could only achieve the dotted lines, and nowhere further. Argh… Love your work, I’ll be waiting to see more! & the best part is, we’re going into our 2nd mth of photos! Hehe, jiayou!

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