I’ve done a lot of silly things in my life and I’m very fortunate to have lived through them. I’ve climbed a cliff face in Idaho and come face to face with a rattlesnake at 2:00 in the morning. At least I thought it was a rattlesnake, it could have been a garter snake who was very good at impressions. I’ve walked smack dab into the middle of a den of rattlesnakes sunning themselves on the volcano rock. I’ve learned what it was like to nearly drown swimming by myself in the Snake River and I’ve had a partial parachute malfunction at 3,500 feet. But I’ve gotta say, I love making mistakes.
Let’s fast forward to 2 years ago when I purchased my first digital camera. It cost about $1,500 and a friend of mine was team roping with his brother in a hole-in-the-wall rodeo. I knew little to nothing about shutter speed. I barely knew anything about the camera I was using. I didn’t own an external flash at the time, but I was determined to get some good rodeo pictures.
Come to think of it, I didn’t know much about chimping at the time either. But, I had the batteries charged, the memory cards, and the strong desire to have some fun, so I started snapping away. I had my camera set for multiple shots, (the little overlapping rectangles, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t catch the action in sharp focus. The shutter speed was just too slow. Here are some of the “mistakes” I made that night.
So what does all of this mean? If your shutter speed is too slow, the pictures will come out blurry. Is this a bad thing? NO! Sometimes blurry can actually be a good thing. The rule of thumb for shutter speed for hand-holding lenses without any image stabilization or anti-shake functions on the camera (the things that make your pictures look still) is “Never shoot with a shutter speed that’s slower than the lens you’re using.” Okay, let’s say the lens you’re shooting with is a 200 Millimeter zoom lens extended all of the way out, what that means is you should not shoot with a shutter speed that’s slower than 1/200th of a second. (1/100th of a second =blurry; 1/50th of a second=blurry; 1/25th of a second=blurry; 1/250th of a second=sharp).
Now that the rule is out of the way. Let’s have some fun. How can I make this work for me? Go out and find a bunch of jelly beans in a big jar, a pretty flower garden, or anything else that has a lot of really cool colors. Set the shutter speed on your camera to slower than it’s supposed to be set. Point the camera at the pretty colors, press the shutter and move it in circles, diagonally, side-to-side, have fun. (But don’t drop your camera, that’s what the wrist strap is for). You will come up with something like this.
Now go have fun!!