This will be the first of several articles on shutter speeds. Of the four aspects of exposure, (light, shutter speed, aperture and ISO), shutter speed is my second favorite, light being number one. Everywhere you look there is some kind of movement that can be recorded, whether that motion is “frozen” using a faster shutter speed or blurred a little with a slower shutter speed is first dependent on the light and secondly by how you want to interpret that movement. I will be focusing first on slower shutter speeds and giving you some tips to make your images look better.
Using a slower shutter speed during sporting events is a way to interpret what you are shooting rather than just recording. Most people go to an event, put the camera in program and shoot. However, by slowing down the shutter speed you can make your final image much more dramatic. In this case I set the shutter down to 1/30 sec. and followed the subject. As he got right in front of me, the shutter was tripped (while still tracking him) and this was the final result.
In this case, the camera was set to continuous focus AND continuous advance. As the runner started I started tracking him while the shutter was continuously clicking and the focus was perfectly tracking. The shutter speed was set to 1/50. All this is dependent on the light in any given scene. Take note that this and the previous example were shot on overcast days. As the clouds move in the shutter speed can be decreased to accomodate a slower shutter speed.
Indoor sports pose a whole new set of difficulties. Typically when shooting volleyball a shutter speed of 1/30 conveys just enough, but not too much, movement. Then add a quick burst of ligh from a flash to freeze movement on the ball and arms of the subjects. Where the difficulty comes in is that all this is done while the players (and the ball) are moving incredibly fast. Trying to keep up with all that movement while looking through the lens means timing is everything!