shutter speed with London Busses

bus at shutter speed of three tenths of a second

moving bus at shutter speed of three tenths of a second

A couple of weeks ago my Level One City Academy students asked if I could post something on shutter speed. The example I use in the lessons is one of a toy windmill shot at different speeds. While it’s a great little illustration I’ve seen it used elsewhere and it’s kind of boring. Then while waiting to meet next months Angels of Wanstead subject I decided it might be fun to shoot passing busses using different shutter speeds and post the results with a short explanation as requested.

bus at shutter speed of one tenth of a second

moving bus at shutter speed of one tenth of a second

As anyone who has done a class with me is probably fed up with hearing, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in photography. However, in general, if you want to capture a moving image clearly you need a fast shutter speed, while if you want that lovely whizzy motion blur you need to leave the shutter open longer.

bus at shutter speed of one fiftheth of a second

moving bus at shutter speed of one fiftieth of a second

One of the few ways one can now shoot a public place in France is to have the shutter open long enough so that the people can’t be recognised because they are represented as motion blurs instead of distinct figures. That obviously means a longer shutter speed.

bus at shutter speed of one sixtieth of a second

moving bus at shutter speed of one sixtieth of a second

If you change the shutter speed you need to change other settings to get a reasonable exposure. Whether or not you’re constrained by your lens (some lenses might not allow the aperture you’d rather use) think of the exposure triangle and use your artistic judgement to decide whether to change aperture, ISO or both.

bus at shutter speed of one thousanth of a second

moving bus at shutter speed of one thousandth of a second

You can also get some lovely effects combining flash with long shutter speeds but that is outside the realm of the City Academy Level One and Level Two courses so I’ll discuss it in another post.