Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Using Shutter Speed to Dance with the Light (photography lesson)

This week in Shimelle's class, "Love your pictures, love your pages," the assignments are geared to using more of your camera's settings.  Yesterday's assignment was on playing with different apertures, but I skipped that lesson because I had done a lot of that already (you can see my post here). Today's class was about using shutter speed to let in more or less light.  What a revelation!  I had played with shutter speed before to affect the amount of movement or blur in a photo (see this post) but had never thought about using it to affect the amount of light.  Shimelle brilliantly set out to show us how to affect light by having us focus on the sky.  Although it's a flat, dreary grey day here, by shooting up through my bougainvillea branches, I was able to really see the difference between shooting at 1/400 (the camera's automatic setting) and 1/15 (in the picture above).  Do you get to see these differences?  Unfortunately not! When I was fiddling with my camera settings, I set something so that most pictures were shot in RAW (not JPEG and not JPEG+RAW), so when I tried to add them here I got a message saying (NEF - unsupported file type).  So, all I can post are these two which I shot at the very end of my photo session, back in JPEG.  Oh well, live and learn!
I love how the bougainvillea seems to dance in the light in this picture taken at 1/10.  I know the sky is totally overexposed, but I still like the effect.  When the sky was properly exposed (at 1/400), the branches were completely dark.  The pictures are "straight out of the camera" with the only correction being for sharpening.
. . . 
And then, just as I finished typing this all up, the sun came out! I decided to continue my lesson, this time playing with my apple tree out back.  Here's the sky properly exposed at 1/500:
I took three photographs from underneath - at 1/800,1/80 and 1/15.  You'll see that I couldn't set a shutter speed to get both a pretty blue sky and colorful apples.  If there was enough light for the apples, there was too much light for the sky!!!  Again, this may be old hat to other folks, but it was a real learning experience for me!
The last thing I did was to take a couple of shots looking across the horizon, instead of directly into the sky.  I was able to get better color on both the apples and skies when doing this.  Here's two shots - one at 1/800 and one at 1/500:

Again, these are straight out of the camera, with only sharpening applied. I think of all the apple shots, the last one is my favorite, although I do kindof like the dreamy quality of the one taken at 1/15 (and don't mind the color distortion too much).  I took all these in shutter priority mode; Shimelle had other things to suggest about  shooting completely in manual, but I'm not quite ready to go there yet.  It seems the more I learn about my camera (and photography in general), the more there is to learn!  On the upside, I'm thinking that if I continue to learn at this rate, I can convince myself that I've "outgrown" my current camera and can justify an upgrade at Christmas time!

16 comments:

Amy said...

I still get utterly bamboozled if I try to shoot in full manual mode - I need more patience! I find using shutter priority quite a challenge, I need to practise a lot more!

debs14 said...

Isn't it amazing how different the same vista can appear just by changing things slightly. Puts you in control of what becomes the centre of attention. You have a more considerate sun over there Rinda, ours is still refusing to come out!

scrappyjacky said...

I found this a real learning experience as well...and was quite surprised at the differences I could get on my little point and shoot....sadly the sun is not obliging at the moment....but clouds can look pretty dramatic at different shutter speeds.
I quite like the almost silhouette effect of not enough light for the apples.

Sian said...

You have a talent for explaining what you've been learning! I haven't had a s much time as I would have liked for participating in this class but I am saving up everything to try when the kids are back at school.

Keep on explaining Rinda. I like it :)

Abi said...

Nice explanation Rinda and beautiful pictures! Abi xxx

Cheri said...

After all that playing around, I think the last two came out great. What kind of camera are you using? I have a very very old Canon Rebel (only 6 mp) but I haven't learned enough yet to justify an upgrade. I'm still toying between that and getting a newer point & shoot!

humel said...

Like you I've been really enjoying this class and learning a lot - maybe I can justify a camera upgrade soon too? Love your shots and your thoughtful talk through the process xx

Deb said...

Your photos are beautiful, Rinda. I'm having a difficult time keeping up with this current class...have some catching up to do this weekend.

I hope Santa brings you that camera for Christmas! Guess it will depend on how good you've been, eh? xo

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Photos are really looking good! I'm bummed I have to miss this class, it looks wonderful

Elizabeth said...

I also liked the results I got from my little point & shoot. Amazing what we don't know about the ability of our cameras!

Nancy Y said...

very interesting! I think I may get an upgrade for Christmas too - I could have tried some of this stuff on the cherry orchard we visited last week!

Once I took photos at a stamp convention for card samples... got home and found I had the camera set on "sepia"... not so good for color combination ideas LOL

Tammy Lee Bradley said...

oooh. Upgrade time. What are you thinking about? I recently upgraded to the D90 and love it with the 35mm 1.8g. No regrets. :)

Carrie said...

Fun! I read some more of my camera manual this morning and plan on doing this soon! I had no idea my camera could auto do this! lol

Karen said...

Great post. I liked your explanation even more than Shimelle's. I also love those two photos of the bougainvillea, especially the last one.

Cheryl said...

Wonderful photos! I really don't put my camera to full use - I do most everything on auto.

sharyncarlson said...

Very interesting to be able to see a comparison. Thank you for sharing this with us, Rinda! I haven't yet started the assignments but I can't wait to jump in.