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Photography Tip – Aperture & Shutter speed for creativity

We all know how to get a decent exposure (well, at least most of us!), but photography is not only about getting the exposure right … creativity needs to be involved if you want your images to stand out, to pop! So how do we do that? By buying extra accessories, filters & whatnot? No, right answer lies within your exposure settings; fiddling around with your exposure settings can give you amazing results.

Alright, so it is obvious that an image captured handheld at f1.4 1/250 100 would have an equivalent exposure to that of an image taken at f8 1/8 100, but do they have the same visual effect? Definitely not! You ask why? Simple, it’s due to the blurriness, & depth of field difference. At f1.4 you get a sharper image on the area in focus but shallower depth of field, whereas the f8 would give you a blurrier image on the area in focus but a much wider depth of field. However, on a tripod, the only difference from the example above would be depth of field (unless your subjects were moving).

We realize that different shutters & apertures have their uses, advantages & disadvantages … yet, with the right knowledge, all those different settings could be used for creative techniques and shooting! Let’s have an in-depth look at them all.

  • Shutter speeds & their creative use:

  • 1/2000 – 1/8000 are best suited for freezing extremely fast moving objects; flying birds, a formula 1 car, a very fast train, Chuck Norris, etc …

  • 1/250 – 1/1000 are best suited for freezing race track runners and faster moving objects; animals, runners, Bruce Lee

  • 1/125 – 1/160 are best suited for freezing people walking

  • 1/8 – 1/60 are best suited for creating motion blur effect & panning shots

  • Anything slower than that could be used for long exposure shots, dreamy effects & night shots (given that you use a tripod, mirror lockup & shutter release cables).

  • Aperture stops & their creative use:

  • f1.2-1.8: extremely shallow depth of field could be used for putting much more emphasis on a specific part of your image

  • f2.8: standard for portraiture, allows you to separate the subject (foreground) from the background & adding great emphasis on the subject’s face

  • f5.6: used when you need to highlight more of one part of the image while still keeping more emphasis on the other part (e.g. Taking a portrait in front of Eiffel tower), can also be used for group portraits.

  • f8: considered the sweet spot for most of commercial lenses, is used to get maximum sharpness and pretty wide depth of field

  • f11: used when you need to get a larger depth of field yet still keep your image close to the sharpest

  • f16-f22: used for landscapes, cityscapes as it allows maximum depth of field, however the image becomes softer & you lose lots of light, thus forcing to slow down the shutter

That explained, it should now be easier to figure out what f-stop or shutter speed to go for while planning a shot, however, note that it is OK to go for a faster shutter speed if light is available (e.g. shooting a marathon runner at 1/8000 is fine as long as exposure doesn’t suffer!) :)

There you go! Hope you learned something new today, feel free to comment & ask questions ;)

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