Saturday, December 26, 2009

Using shutter speed as a compositional tool

The more traditional methods of composition in photography and other visual mediums include using color, lines, patterns, dept of field, placement and others. See Darren Rowse's article 5 Elements of Composition in Photography! for more. These methods of composition are not necessarily exclusive and may be combined to produce an effective piece of work!

One less common method of producing a composition involves using slow shutter speeds as a a compositional tool. Effective use of slow shutter speeds can be used to create elements or objects and these elements can be used like any other to structure or compose the composition. Also slow shutter speeds can also be used to create lines, patterns or forms which can be very effective in drawing in and leading a viewers eye. Other uses of slow shutter speeds would be to create color or as a mask to hide or eliminate certain elements in a scene. This can all be done in camera! One of the fun things about this is that we can use this technique to create elements or other compositional features that we can't see with our eyes. We may not be able to see them but fortunately by using our imagination we can envisage them and use our cameras to compose a symphony of light!

Ladies Lookout
One example of this is this sunset image I took of my hometown. Here we have the streams of lights from two cars creating dynamic lines drawing the viewers throughout the frame. The lines created by the car lights create a very soothing and colorful pattern and help create a balanced composition.

Ladies Lookout

Exif: Canon 50D/18mm, 30secs/f22/iso100 tripod, shutter release cable, mirror lockup.


Ocean Speak
Shutter speed can also be used to create mood and atmosphere. Rarely will you see the mighty north atlantic ocean look so serene.

Ocean Speak

Exif: Canon 50D/18mm, 71secs/f22/iso100 tripod, shutter release cable, mirror lockup.


The Stage
Shutter speed can also be used to create a surreal effect.

The Stage

Exif: Canon 50D/20mm, 30secs/f22/iso100 tripod, shutter release cable, mirror lockup.


Ride the Light
Shutter speed can also be used to create a sense of drama as in the case of this passing bus in downtown Vancouver.

Ride the Light

Exif: Canon 50D/18mm, 3.2secs/f8/iso100 tripod, shutter release cable, mirror lockup.

This is something I enjoy doing and throwing in the surprises that sometimes pop up it is a lot of fun!

Please share your comment and lets trade experiences and ideas!
Thanks for stopping by!
Brian Carey