The aim of this exercise was to test the effect on photographs of the camera’s shutter speed. While keeping the camera still in front of a moving scene, several shutter speeds were experimented with. I decided to set my tripod in front of the busy public transport hub of a train station.
Shutter speed: 6 seconds. Walking people are barely visible (only faint traces are visible in the centre left). Moving vehicles leave a streak of light.Shutter speed: 2 seconds. Here, moving people are more visible. It is interesting to note that the legs are less blurred that the upper part of the body.Shutter speed: 1 second. Walking people can be fully distinguished, yet still blurred.Shutter speed: 1/15 of a second. While the moving subject is blurred, people standing at the tram station appear sharp.
On another occasion, I thought of this exercise and improvised a few street images.
One interesting application of shutter speed is shown in the last photograph of this exercise. It was shot at night during the Basel 2012 carnival.
- The street lights gave a blurred impression of the drummers’ group;
- Then their frozen picture was lit by a flash (the duration of a flash is approximately 1/1000s).
This was obtained by the combination of two techniques. First, the shutter speed was adjusted according to the street lighting (1/6 of a second). Then I set the camera flash to trigger when the shutter’s second curtain closes. This setting is commonly called “rear curtain” flash mode. In simple terms, this causes the flash to trigger just before the shutter closes. This mode may not be available on simpler models of cameras.