We welcomed Dr. Eddie Hyde to the club on 12th May for his presentation on the use of shutter speed.

Speed was certainly the main subject for Eddie when he began his talk with motorsports. I know I have struggled many times when trying to capture the action at any sort of motor race and it was great to have Eddie not just talk about the “How to…” but also show us the results of varying the shutter speed, in order to better tell your story.

FOUR WHEELS AND TWO WHEELS

This one at 1/800th has frozen everything so it just looks static; you get no sense of motion or speed

At 1/200th, you are starting to see the motion in the spokes of the wheels and the grass stripes are no longer sharp.

Now we are at 1/80th and the feel of the car’s speed is much more apparent in the image.

Eddie also gave us some great advice on the technique of panning, something vital to being able to capture the best images when photographing anything at speed:

Place your foot that is nearest to the subject, at 90 degrees to the direction of motion and get your camera trained on your subject as it comes across you. Your other foot should be at 45 degrees to the exit area of your subject, so you are effectively then able to swivel your upper body in line with the subject as it sweeps past you, all the while keeping your lens on it and shooting in short bursts to get the action – don’t overdo this as your camera may not be able to cope with the number of shots coming onto the memory card – be selective and smooth as you turn.

When shooting straight or side-on, vary your shutter to make the best of your position. Frozen in-the-air cars and dust/debris convey the impression of motion.

1/2000th here has caught the best of the action and dirt coming up.

This is also taken at 1/2000th and whilst it is a great shot of the car in the air, there is no feeling of the motion or speed.

So, in this case (and pretty much anytime if it is what your work needs), use the power of post-processing to make the background emphasise that the main subject is moving at speed.

Shutter speed tips:

  • 1/800 you won’t be able to see whether or not a car is moving.
  • 1/200 and pan will give some background (and tyre) blur.
  • 1/160, better still.
  • 1/100 even better.
  • 1/80 or 1/60 really will give an impression of speed (and movement of kicked-up dirt, etc.).
  • 1/50 tends to give a lot of blur but can be a great look.
  • 1/20 for slow-moving traffic.

1/40, focusing on a stationary object, blurring the racing car.

Or tilt the camera at a jaunty angle — the “Dutch” Angle.

When it comes to two wheels, motorcycles can be perhaps shot at faster speeds than above but good old bicycles need a bit more care, depending on how you want to present your work.

This one is at 1/125th and the lead cyclist is good and sharp,,,and feeling it too judging by his expression! The three chasing are just beginning to lose focus so we can see there is some fair speed involved.

Both these are at just 1/30th

You get a much stronger feel of the speed as the background and much of the main subjects are blurred.

TRAINS…ESPECIALLY STEAM ONES!

Eddie clearly loves most fast-moving things and steam trains are another subject that I am sure most of us have tried to capture at some stage.

Eddie shared this terrific image with us and certainly gave your blogger an interesting insight into Steam Charter days. It sounds like you just get a gang of people together and hire a steam train for the day! Cracking! The above is at 1/20th, with some perfect panning to get the train sharp and blur the rest. As part of your day, it seems there can be many opportunities to get shots like this.

This one is 1/400th and the plume of steam really does convey the sense of speed. A great mono image!

But, once again, Eddie gave us one of his “tricks of the trade” and shared an image from his ARPS award panel.

Guess the shutter speed? 1/200th?…1/400th?…It must be fast because it’s all a blur. But if you look closer at the building just to the top right side of the engine, it is pretty sharp. This one is a 2.5 second exposure of a slow-moving engine which Eddie has cleverly edited to convey a fast-moving train crossing in front of him. It works really well.

STEAM ENGINES SHUTTER SPEED TIPS

1/1000 can still give the steam an impression of motion.

1/20 can be good with panning.

1/250 will freeze it (as a small subject) within a landscape.

2.5s can look great on a slow train.

1/200 on a fast steam loco will give some wheel and steam/smoke movement.

IN THE SKIES

We’re getting faster now! Eddie took us to Wales and those locations used by the RAF and USAF for flight tests, etc. Knowing where to be and when are the keys to this being successful and we had many top-quality images to see.

Once again, panning and the stance described above give the best chance to really get a clear, sharp capture.

This is at 1/2000th and the pilots are more aware of the photographers than you might think. Look closely and the rear one is saluting as they fly past!

This image, also at 1/2000th was commended in the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017.

Some quieter and slower aircraft here, at Biggin Hill. Taken at 1/2500th, the one on the left lacks any sense of speed and one might feel they are stalling as there is no propellor movement! A bit of Photoshop magic and all is well!

The Red Arrows are always popular with us photographers and here Eddie is once again at 1/2000th.

AIRCRAFT TIPS

PROPELLERS

1/2500 freezes props and loses sense of motion/flight.

But, post-processing on these can, sometimes, easy.

1/400 or 1/300 or 1/250 or 1/200 is good.

1/200 gives good background motion blur.

JET AIRCRAFT e.g. at the MACH loop in Wales

The aforementioned feet position is vital.

1/1600 or 1/2000 for fighters.

1/4000 for the Red Arrows passing each other in opposite directions (and if you want both frozen).

1/250 for turboprop transport.

HELICOPTERS – slower moving so slower shutter.

1/200 max. Say 1/60, especially with large craft.

Eddie covered many other areas in his talk and I am very grateful to Barbara A for her ability to get the details and transcribe these as above and also for the following shutter speed details.

There is too much ground to cover and I suspect none of you want to be here reading this for any longer than you wish to. So I will share the shutter information and some more images and for those who didn’t get all the information, the best tip of all from Eddie on Back Button focussing. There is much more on this on YouTube by the way and it is for far more than just capturing speed.

BIRDS OF PREY

1/1600 will freeze.

1/2000 will freeze head-on flying (with perhaps some blur in the wings).

1/1000 might be ok for same.

1/500 for large birds.

CHEETAH, LION.

1/160 is too slow.

Use shutter priority and auto ISO.

Try 1/500 on lions.

PEOPLE, ETC.

Try 1/8 and pan.

1/250 on a fairground carousel will give a tiny, beneficial amount of motion blur.

1/500 for show jumping, as freezing still get other motion cues.

1/60 or 1/30 and pan conversely can work.

1/400 ping pong.

1/250 surfing.

1/250 to 1/550 marathon runners.

WATER

This one is at 30s. Cauldron Falls, West Burton, Wensleydale

1/1000 or faster for waves breaking and freezing them – both the two below are at Newhaven during Storm Brian…thank you 🙂

Using longer exposures such as 2 min 12s can remove moving, transitory people such as here in Iceland where Eddie had to put up with selfie-taking from visiting tourists.

0.5s gives both movement and texture on breaking waves.

Try 1/13 on breaking waves and cascading water – This is at Newhaven from the other side of the pier to those above.

Storm waves best venues:

– Portcawl

– Porthleven

– Seahouses

– Newhaven

ICM (Intentional Camera Movement)

1/5 for up and down movement — no need to move it too much.

0.3s to 04s min. for zoom burst.

Eddie himself had no view on whether to zoom in or out — perhaps whichever feels easy for the direction of turn on your hand.

Try 10s and zoom one end of it such as here on the London Eye at night.

AURORA BOREALIS (Northern Lights)

E.g. 10s, to avoid motion blur in stars — use the 500 rule.

The 500 rule for a full frame camera requires you to set your camera to ISO 3200 or 6400, Aperture to f/2.8 (or as wide as possible) and your shutter speed to 500 divided by the focal length of your camera. For example, if you are shooting with a 50mm lens, your shutter speed would be 10 seconds (500 / 50 = 10)

Lighten Blend mode of many images to get star trails. Above is a blend of 42 images.

Dave Stoneleigh suggested Screen Blend Mode as an alternative

CITYSCAPES AT NIGHT

Try 2.5s to 6s.

FIREWORKS – no images to show, unfortunately.

Manual focus to infinity or a bit nearer.

Reasonable depth of field.

About 4s, or 2s to 4s.

Finally, that bit on Back Button Focussing…:

Oh yes, one more thing…that title I have above…The “Fluff” is the moisture coming off the aircraft, the “Jelly” is the heat haze from the engines and, well, I am sure you can see the “Ribbons” in the photo below.

I hope the above conveys the excellent evening we enjoyed. Huge thanks to Eddie for allowing us to use his images as above – all images here copyright Dr. Eddie Hyde ARPS.

Thank you for taking the time to read and look.

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