Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for stills

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Chris Shivers

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Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for stills

PostWed Sep 16, 2020 4:42 pm

Do you use shutter speed or an ND filter. I fell like I'm the only person who uses shutter speed to control their exposure when taking pictures with a still camera lol. To me using shutter speed to control exposure is beneficial bc you have less motion blur, am I the only person that does this or are other the people in the same boat?
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robedge

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Re: Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for st

PostWed Sep 16, 2020 10:05 pm

One can use an increase in shutter speed or a neutral density filter to cut the amount of light hitting the film stock or sensor, either to hit a desired ISO or aperture.

On film cameras, a neutral density filter is sometimes the only practical option. The fastest shutter speed on my Leica M3 and M6 is 1/1000 of a second. On my Mamiya 7ii, it’s 1/500 of a second. My large format lenses also have 1/500th, but that is optimistic.

On a digital camera with an electronic shutter, the advantage of using shutter speed to cut light is that you don’t have to mess around with a neutral density filter. If they can, some people prefer to avoid using a filter, which adds additional glass in front of the lens.

One special reason to use a neutral density filter is precisely to reduce shutter speed in order to get motion blur. For example, a landscape photographer who wants to photograph a waterfall might use a 10-stop neutral density filter in order to use a very slow shutter speed.

For me, the more common problem is too little light, not too much. I have a fair amount of experience pushing black and white film stock :)
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Brad Hurley

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Re: Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for st

PostWed Sep 16, 2020 11:27 pm

Chris Shivers wrote:I fell like I'm the only person who uses shutter speed to control their exposure when taking pictures with a still camera lol. To me using shutter speed to control exposure is beneficial bc you have less motion blur, am I the only person that does this or are other the people in the same boat?


I can't tell if you're talking about using a stills camera or using a cinema camera here.

For a stills camera, of course shutter speed is a way to control exposure. If I'm shooting manually on a tripod, I set the ISO (for landscapes I would set to its base level, typically 100 in many stills cameras), set my aperture to where I want it in terms of my desired depth of field or other artistic considerations (e.g., if my lens has aberrations that I want to emphasize or de-emphasize), and then use shutter speed to dial in the exposure. That's a pretty normal procedures for shooting all-manual on a stills camera. If I'm shooting objects that move fast, such as birds or people playing sports, shutter speed is usually the most important consideration so that will take precedence over ISO.

For cinema, adjusting shutter angle affects motion blur as you noted. I normally have mine set at 180 degrees, but I've used 360 when shooting unmoving objects in dark places (e.g., a statue in an unlit corner of a church on a cloudy day), which helps a lot in terms of reducing noise. I normally avoid shutter angles lower than 180 degrees (I use 178.2 in Europe if I'm shooting indoors to avoid flicker) because it can start to get choppy, esp. toward 90 or (especially) 45. I think the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan were shot at 45 to get that staccato, frenetic, disorienting look.
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Re: Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for st

PostThu Sep 17, 2020 6:08 am

And the outdoor night scenes in Collateral were shot with 360 degree to help with available light.
You can tell by the smeared movements in the chase to the pedestrian bridge.
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Chris Leutger

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Re: Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for st

PostThu Sep 17, 2020 7:43 am

I only use ND's on my BMPCC. Well, I did buy a Big Stopper (10 stop ND) many years ago for my 4x5 back when I thought it might be interesting to try such effects, I was wrong. For stills, of course, I use shutter speed accordingly, especially for the difference between tripod and handheld. Like others have mentioned, I have used shutter angle on my BMPCC in low light. Not often though.
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Re: Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for st

PostThu Sep 17, 2020 12:14 pm

Chris Leutger wrote:I did buy a Big Stopper (10 stop ND) many years ago for my 4x5 back when I thought it might be interesting to try such effects, I was wrong.


Ha! I almost succumbed to that temptation several years ago when I saw some prints by a Japanese large format photographer who made brilliant use of a 10-stop. Then I realised that he was a master printer, that that had plenty to do with what I was seeing and that in my hands a 10-stop might not yield similar results :)
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Chris Leutger

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Re: Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for st

PostSat Sep 19, 2020 12:47 am

For me it was seeing Michael Kenna, that guy you mention, some German guy, a guy here in Seattle and others do it ad nauseum in the B&W large format photo world. I realized that A) I'm not that sort of landscape photographer myself, and B) that effect was over. I made one print, "water over rocks" and after working my ass off to produce a gorgeous print, found it totally boring.

The one time I used the Big Stopper's powers for good, was for a 24 hour photo event at the local photo organization's fund raiser. I pointed my 4x5 out the window of my apartment and opened the shutter for 24 hours then closed it (I stacked the BS with a 3 and 1 stop ND). The ensuing color image was banal, the lengthy exposure meant that there were no traces of movement. It looked liked a shot of the street though the colors were...definitely off. But the concept was solid and I found that photograph far more interesting than my previous attempt.
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Re: Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for st

PostSat Sep 19, 2020 1:16 am

Chris Leutger wrote:I realized that A) I'm not that sort of landscape photographer myself.


In my case, spending a couple of hours with Ed Burtynsky when he was still shooting large format might have had something to do with my decision to take a pass on a 10-stop. That and discovering Jeff Wall.

For those who aren't familiar with these guys:

Ed Burtynsky: https://www.edwardburtynsky.com

Jeff Wall: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Wall
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Re: Do you use shutter speed to control your exposure for st

PostSat Sep 19, 2020 12:56 pm

A Jeff Wall story...

A few years ago, I was seated beside a businessman on a flight to Vancouver. My seat mate, seeing that I was going through a book of photographs (if I recall, Roy DeCarava), mentioned that his son, who had just graduated from a film programme, was working on sets and lighting for a photographer. That struck me as a bit unusual, so I asked who. He said “a local Vancouver photographer named Jeff Wall”. I had seen Wall’s show at MOMA, which impressed the hell out of me. I talked about Wall’s work, about which my seat mate knew little, and about the MOMA show. I told him that I thought it was a fairly big deal for his son to be working with Wall, and that he was likely to learn a lot. I made my seat mate’s day :)
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