Shutter speed is a great tool in Creative Photography.

We expect to have everything sharp in a picture.  Does this mean we should use a shutter speed that freeze the action?  Doing so, do we get the most of the creative use of shutter speed?  Do we help the story?

Let’s think about it seriously:

  • When you are looking at the car on the highway travelling on the left lane, does the wheel of the car are sharp and frozen?
  • When looking at the helicopter taking off, does the blades are sharp and frozen?

This is a fact of life!  The fact that our cameras can freeze a bullet hitting an apple does not means that we need to do so.

While at a photo workshop with The Giving Lens in Granada, Nicaragua, one of our tasks was to teach the kids how to tell a story with photography as the medium.  The story was the manufacturing process of very nice pottery by local artist.  One of the steps is glazing.  The primary purpose of glazing is decoration and protection.

Creative use of Shutter Speed is helping depict the action.

Creative Photography through Appropriate Shutter Speed.

Moving the potter’s wheel at an artisan shop in Nicaragua

The artist is spinning a lower wheel with its foot.  The potter’s wheel is then spinning and the glaze could be evenly applied to the pottery.

When I took this picture I wanted the viewer to understand the action.  I set the camera at 6/10 second knowing that the speed of the wheel and the foot would be blurry.  We understand that the artist is spinning the wheel with his foot.  I feel that this picture is telling exactly what I intended.  As part of the story, this picture does support our first mission: tell a story with Photography as the medium.

Creative photography is also about using the right shutter speed to deliver the message taking into account the story.  The correct shutter speed will depend on the subject, the distances and the action.   I took multiple pictures at different speed.  My aim was to have the rest of the scene clear and sharp while having just enough motion blur on the potter’s wheel and the foot for us to appreciate the action.

It is your turn now.  Tell me about the last time where you set the shutter speed to make something more creative.  Post a link for us to see this.