On the Rocks

Rocks at the bottom of Anna Ruby Falls in Georgia

No Salt

Since I’m not a storm chaser, the last 24 hours haven’t provided much opportunity to take any decent photos.

This is a photo of Anna Ruby Falls in northern Georgia, taken in October of 2010. It was such a beautiful autumn day, and such a joy to have something wonderful to shoot in almost any direction I turned.

I thought I’d use this as an example for a photo tip…

Using your shutter speed:

A note: if you have a point-and-click camera, you probably do not have a setting that allows you to change the shutter speed. I’m not aware of any tricks that will emulate this either.

Basically, using your shutter speed to control what kind of photo you get is used for two reasons: 1) to allow in more light in low-light situations, or 2) to capture motion. Of course, there may be more artsy reasons, but those are the two most common. This photo is a case of capturing the motion of the water.

In both of these cases above, a tripod is your best friend. I read somewhere that most people can only hold a camera steady enough for a crisp photo for 1/30 second. Anything slower than that, details will start to blur because of the motion of your hands. A tripod will allow you to capture the non-moving objects with great clarity, while also allowing for an open shutter that captures the motion of the subject.

In this photo, the shutter is open for 1/8 second. Anything slower might have made the water look a bit too unrealistic and allowed in too much light and blown out the details in the highlights; anything less might not have created the movement in the water that I was looking for. I remember taking several photos at different speeds, so be willing to do that to find the look you want. There is no one speed that fits any situation.

One thing to be aware of when shooting during daylight hours, the slower your shutter speed, the more light you allow in. In this particular setting, it was very shady, so I did not have to worry about too much light. However, I’ve been in parks where it was very open and brightly lit, wanting to take slow-shutter photos. The only way to accomplish this is to attach a “neutral-density” filter on your lens. It’s basically the equivalent of putting sunglasses on your lens. Depending on what level of darkness the filter is, you can leave the shutter open for longer than usual, but allowing less light in, thereby preserving your highlights.

This tip, by the way, assumes that you want the camera to be still, capturing only certain movement in your frame. There are instances where might want to be moving your camera to capture motion, for example, capturing a cyclist moving past you… keeping them in focus and having the background blurred with movement. This is a different technique and one that I don’t use much, so I won’t talk about what I don’t know much about (for a change. :).

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