Wednesday, February 3, 2016

(Why not to use auto everything)

You can do a lot of fun and artistic stuff with slow shutter speeds, even if your subject is not moving. I'm talking about shutter speeds in the range of 1/5 of a second to 60 minutes. My 
examples for my tip this month range from 1/5 of a second to 5 minutes. I can get long exposures even when shooting in AV mode (Aperture Priority) because I understand the relationship between f/stops and shutter speeds--I'll save that discussion for a future tip of the month. For exposures longer than 30 seconds, I use the BULB setting. 

Let me share some examples of the opportunities that open up when we use slow shutter speeds, even with stationary subjects. 

I made sure I got a slow shutter speed so I would have time to move my camera slowly to the left. A 1/5th of a second allowed me to do that for this image. 

For this image, I did not want to depict the strong, powerful, vibrating force of the rushing waters of Ouzel Falls in Colorado. I wanted to create the peaceful, soothing feeling I got when I was there. A 1/6th of a second on fast-moving waters gave me the effect I wanted.

This image was also created with 1/6th of a second, but, unlike the image above, I chose that speed so I could move my camera slightly downward. The result was an artistic rendition of this stationary flower.

Maroon Bells in Colorado is a magnet for photographers, me included. I have photographed it several times, mostly in the fall, and usually in the early morning hours when there are 20 other photographers doing the same thing. During my last visit, I was there in the morning, but I also decided to photograph it in late afternoon. By the time I got there, the sun had already set behind the mountains. Rather than give up on it, I decided to get a long exposure. I had done that before with another nature scene and it worked well for me. So, I tried a 25-second exposure and got this translation of Maroon Bells after sunset. When you leave the shutter open that long, the sensor (or film) is just sucking up light. The result is completely different, and better, than what the eyes see. Don't see with your eyes; see with your imagination.

Whatcom Falls in the town of Bellingham, Washington got my attention. As with the Ouzel Falls image, I wanted to create that soothing peaceful feel. The water was not flowing as fast as Ouzel Falls. 1.3 seconds (shown as 1.3" in the camera) was all it took to get this soothing effect. 

A 1/30th of a second shutter speed in broad daylight allowed me to slightly zoom into this grove of aspens. Some of you are wondering, "How can you get a shutter speed that slow in broad daylight?" The answer: with an f/29 aperture. 

For this image, which is on the cover of my new book, RIGHT BRAIN PHOTOGRAPHY (Be an artist first), I chose to photograph these formations at Garden of The Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado at night. Yes, at night! It was about 10-15 minutes after sunset. It was dark. I picked these formations because of the composition they and the formations in the distance gave me. Setting my camera to BULB, I "painted" the formations with two everyday off-road emergency flashlights for about 5 minutes.