Photography – A Beginners Guide – Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow! – An article by Goff James

Recap – Speed v Size, Clear v Blur!

Aperture, shutter speed and focal length are a DSLR’s vital ingredients.

Exposure is the result of two factors;

  •   Speed of shutter opening and closing and is measured in fractions of a second:         1/1000 (Fastest) … 1/2 ( Slowest),
  •   Aperture size (width of opening through which light passes) is measured in           f-stops; f/1,4 (Open Maximum) … f/32 (Closed Minimum).                                                      

If one combines a fast shutter speed 1/1000 with the widest aperture setting of f/1,4 the resulting image is crisp and clear

A clear image attempts to capture a scene in perfect focus.

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Marc Adamus, Vibrant, 2007, Fall, Wild Rose, Aspen, Jasper, Athabasca, River, Sunset

In this image entitled Vibrant, Marc Adamus appears when looking out over the foliage in the foreground to have applied a narrow shutter speed and in so doing has kept everything in focus. Within the image there is an interesting interplay between textures, light, shapes and shadows. The rule of thirds has made for a balanced composition. This is an ideal compositional combination when photographing a landscape.


Goff James, Skytrain, 2017

In this image entitled Skytrain, I have used the platform barrier to draw the viewer’s eye into the image and creates interest. The barrier, train, buildings and their shadows are fused almost almost into abstraction and are the main source of interest. Compositionally the use of the black and white format accentuates the dramatic tension within the image.

If one combines a slow shutter speed 1/2 with the smallest aperture setting of f/32 the resulting image is blurred.


Ernst Haas, Swimmers, 1984, Olympics, LA

In this image entitled Swimmers, Ernst Haas appears to have used a slow shutter speed (- set on a tripod – may have locked the focus on a specific point – has moved the camera as he fired the shutter [panning]) and in so doing the resulting image is blurred. The blurring adds a great sense of drama to the image.

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Goff James, Glow Flow, 2017


Goff James, Moving Forwards, 2017


Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, 1978(2/3), Gelatin Silver Print, (Dimensions Unstated)

In this image of Richard AvedonIrving Penn has adoptedIn this image entitled Skytrain, Goff James has used the the platform barrier to draw the viewer’s eye into the image and creates interest. that draws ones eye into the photograph. The sitter is captured in a three-quarters perspective that breathes life into the image. The longer focal length has blurred the background and flattened the depth of field. In so doing Penn a has raised the the subject from the background and out towards the viewer.

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Goff James, “LT”, 2017

The result of an incorrect combination of aperture and shutter speed is an overexposed or underexposed image. Consequently a dramatic effect is created.

Don’t worry about the theory.

Experiment. Make mistakes. Have fun.

Happy Photography.

Reference List

Glenwright J., (2008), Digital Photography Step-by-Step, London, Collins.(