Getting Creative With Your Shutter Speed

Calgary Family Photographer (Photo by Dana Pugh) danapugh.comAfter I posted one of these images online, I had a number of emails asking me how I did it so I thought I'd share the how to here on my blog.

It isn't rocket science. It's using your settings to get a creative portrait. For me, it seemed obvious that if we were all going to be skating around we would want a few images that showed movement. The easiest way to show movement is to create a little blur. So, in order to do that, we have to slow down our shutter speed. In this instance, we were outside so there was a lot of natural light. I had the ISO at 100 and I knew from experience that I would want my shutter to be at about 1/40 or 1/50 to get the kind of blur that I want, so I lowered it to there. I didn't want the boys to go too fast as they weren't wearing helmets for aesthetic reasons. I told them to space themselves as I knew that I would be trying to capture their parents between the two of them to create a 'framing' effect. In order to get my exposure correct, I now had to adjust the aperture...there was WAY too much light to shoot it wide open, so I closed the aperture until the proper exposure was achieved which in this case was f11. I focused on the parents, braced myself and had the boys skate by while I shot. They did it three times in total and thanks to the wonders of digital technology, I could look at what we got and determine that the image I wanted to make had been achieved :) NOTE: your shutter speed will be slow enough to cause camera shake, so you must be sure to hold steady to achieve the sharp subjects in the centre. You must also ask your subjects to hold still :) I know from experience that I am able to hand hold at this setting. Calgary Family Photographer (Photo by Dana Pugh) Calgary Family Photographer (Photo by Dana Pugh)

Now, I was lucky here because the kids had a parent who was a photographer, but older kids are usually eager to help you create anything you can dream up. I always explain to them what I am trying to do and show them any results on the back of my camera if they ask.

Another option open to me was panning. I could have attempted to get the boys sharp by using similar settings and moving my camera with them while they skated by. In my experience, this is rather time consuming to achieve and so I made the call on this colder winter day to get everyone inside as quickly as possible and do this instead.

I hope this helps everyone in trying to create movement in their own images. If you have any other questions on how to achieve a certain look, be sure to ask me(either here in the comments or on my Facebook page). I'm going to try and post more photography tips from now on. And, if you have a mom's group that would like to have a photographer come and teach them the basics of using their digital SLR, I would love to have the opportunity to come and talk to them. Just contact me via the contact form and we can set something up.


~ Dana