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Category Archives: Photography
The term dragging the shutter refers to when a photographer uses a longer shutter speed than what normally be used with the intention of creating motion.
Motion in a photograph can add a sense of reality to what normal could be still and dreary.
For example, look at this photograph I found on Google Plus. It’s a simple street photography style photograph that has birds flying around. If the birds were perfectly still and if the photograph did not drag the shutter to allow for motion, then the final product would be so different.
When a photographer drags the shutter, he/she might use a shutter speed between 1/30 and one second. Doing so allows for handheld use and the ease of creating motion. Anything longer than one second would be very difficult to hand hold.
Then there is this one.
The shutter speed for this photograph is 1/800 which is typically very fast. However, I used my body to move slightly which enhanced the subtle motion behind the ornament. That doubled with the beautiful bokeh created by a small aperture of the Nikon 20mm lens made for an eye-catching photograph of a car ornament.
Dragging the Shutter
Technically this photograph is not dragging the shutter because the shutter speed was not open long enough to be dragged. However, I still put this in the same category due to my use of shutter and movement.
Here is an example of shutter dragging used in music photography. I made that photograph many years ago of one of my favorite bands.
Although this next photograph was made using neutral density filters, it uses a dragged shutter to create the motion of people and cars throughout the scene.
Below is another example of dragging the shutter. However, this time it is combined with flash photography. By using flash, photographers can control the artificial and natural light separately but adjusting aperture and shutter speed. For this photograph, in order to capture the couple clearly and brighten the background, my aperture was f/4.5 and the shutter speed had to be dragged between 1/60 and 1/30. This was my favorite for the batch I captured in this spot.
Hopefully at this point you have a better understanding of what dragging the shutter can do for a photograph. Just in case you need some more on this, here is a video recorded for Adorama TV.
Now go out and give it a try. If you have questions, please comment and I will do my best to answer.
Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
I recently received an email from a reader asking for advice on photographing newborn photos inside of her client’s house using only natural light. Because I typically use artificial light mixed with natural light, I decided to call upon my friend Angela Pointon to share her advice. Angela is an amazing newborn photographer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to her awesome advice, you are going to see some photographs from her session with my niece Harper.
Be sure to comment with any questions you might have.
On to you Angela…
When I started my newborn photography business, I knew I wanted to travel to clients’ homes to shoot on location. Unfortunately, I also knew that I’d be walking into a situation each time where I wouldn’t have an understanding of the window lighting before the shoot.
Since posed newborn photography is fairly simple, I’ve perfected and maintained the same typical setup each time. Here is a step-by-step guide to shooting indoors with a simple natural light set up.
Find the sun
Not all windows are created equal and when you’re trying to find the best room in the house to shoot in, knowing where the sun is and where it’s going to move to during your shoot helps.
There are iPhone and Android apps to help you locate the angle of the sun. Depending on your environment, you can use the location of the sun choose the best light. I’m located in Pennsylvania and there are lots of towering tall oak trees inside the local neighborhoods. In fact, some of my clients live in a densely wooded, hilly area of town. Most of my shoots are in the morning, and I seek out a window that is southeast facing to gain the most light through the shadows of the trees and neighboring houses.
Make sure your room is fairly neutral
If you’re shooting in a room that’s painted a strong color, it will likely cast color onto your subject. This also goes for the clothing you wear, if you get close to your subjects during your shoot. Try, whenever possible, to shoot inside a room that’s painted white, beige or tan and wear neutral colored clothing. It will help limit your post-processing work.
Position your subjects near a window
I use the same exact setup for every newborn shoot. I position my subject, posing pillow and backdrop near a window. I have a large piece of white gauze fabric and painter’s tape to diffuse the window light if needed on a really sunny day. You can get the gauze fabric at any fabric or hobby store and painter’s tape at any hardware store.
Here is a drawing of my typical setup:
Use a reflector to bounce light back onto the subject(s)
A large piece of foam core or circular reflector works great for bouncing light back onto a subject, filling in shadows and bringing out detail that would otherwise fall into shadow. Since I travel to my shoots, I prefer a reflector since it folds up small enough to fit inside my camera bag.
Don’t be afraid to crawl around or climb on things
I’m fairly tall and can easily get over my subjects, but I know photographers that bring a step stool with them to shoots. If you’re short and you find yourself wishing for some height, this might be a good idea. Often times I’m getting onto the floor and moving around on my belly to get different angles and detail shots.
Don’t be afraid to move over, under and around your subjects to gain better images. Using natural light makes this easier since there are no light stands in your way causing potential tripping hazards.
Angela Pointon is the founder of Angela Pointon Photography and Steel Toe Images, which offers advice and inspiring motivation for creative business owners. Angela’s weekly email newsletter is packed with advice for creative entrepreneurs, which can be subscribed to for free here. In addition, she has authored multiple books, is a monthly columnist for Professional Photographer Magazine, blogs at Steel Toe Images and posts to Facebook, G+, Pinterest and Twitter.
Photography is about seeing the world around you and capturing it in a way that speaks to you and others. Photography is the study of light, and absorbing light.
Sometimes as photographers we try to make a photograph of complex situations.
Every so often it’s nice to go simplify. For example, carrying only one camera lens.
In the photograph below I captured the grill of an antique car using the Nikon 20mm lens. I love the lens because it’s extremely wide and has minimal distortion.
I was right. The curves, lines, and chrome accents around this car were beautiful. It’s a perfect example of the simple things that should not be overlooked.
Thanks for reading and happy shooting,