To illustrate the effect of using different shutter speeds I thought I would shoot trains going by from a nearby nature reserve. I had previously considered using skateboarders at the Southbank centre but was not happy with the results in that I did not have a clear shot at all speeds and the background was too busy.
The following shots were all shot with a Sony A900 24-70mm lens at 70mm at ISO 200.
As far as shooting a moving subject is concerned, it has to be realised that if the shutter speed is too slow the subject will either be invisible or unrecognisable (see the first three shots above) and while giving an abstract feel to the shot concerned, it may not provide the style of shot required. On the other hand, too fast a shutter speed then the subject will be frozen and any indication of movement lost (except if used in conjunction with panning – see next post) see the shots above at 1/320 of a second and faster. So the most effective setting in the above case, in my view, is probably the 1/13 and 1/100 second shots in which the subject can recognised but it is also clear that there is movement going on.
There was a variable that was outside my control – the speed of the train – but I think the various trains shot were travelling at a similar speed. It is not until shutter speeds of 1/320 of a second is used, that the detail becomes clear – in particular the lettering on the train. As it was a misty morning the sharpness of the shots are compromised somewhat but nevertheless the effect of altering the shutter speed is clearly shown.
I’ve been fascinated by high speed photography since a teenager and at the time marvelled how photographers like Stephen Dalton managed to take the shots he did (his book Split Second describes his technique from the pre digital era). These days the technology allows the use of extremely fast shutter speeds (my A900 goes up to 1/8000 and can sync with flash at these high speeds):-
In addition I’ve used shutter speeds at the other end of the scale to make different effects:-