Slow Shutter Speed Photography in Sports

Photographer Lindy Martin Challenges

You to Change Your Shutter Speed

Every once in awhile, there are different ways to photograph things just a little bit differently to give the common events a boost or change of focus.  Last week I went out to look for some migrating waterfowl but the wind was so strong and the wave action so dramatic, that the ducks headed for the safe harbours. So, since I was there with a camera in hand, the waves were the focus of the day.

Here is the  usual wave photo which has a shutter speed of over 1/1000 of a second. The speed freezes the wave at the instant it is at its peak about 12 feet over the edge at the harbour wall.  The image is good and one of my photos from that day make it onto the weather news that night.  Getting the timing is important as the wave action changes in milliseconds.  However, the second image is a little bit different and changes the way we look at a wave.


Fast shutter speed captures the wave at the peak of the action


The height of the wave spray is still impressive but with a slow shutter speed, the image evokes a whole different emotion.  It looks like someone just tossed a can of paint at the shore. Honestly, it was a fun day doing something completely different than photographing waterfowl.

 Slow shutter speed allows for the “explosion” of the wave above


The same thing applies to photographing athletes with slow shutter speeds.  These two photos depict the same differences as the ones above.  Frozen action with a fast shutter speed and the slower shutter speed depicts movement. With dogs or human athletes, focus on the subject and as soon as it is exactly parallel to the camera, click the shutter. Panning works for cars, bikes, horses, or anything that moves!  It really is interesting to try changing the way you usually photograph.  Go outside, (or inside) to challenge yourself to do something that you haven’t done before.



Fast shutter speed freezes the action  – Try it at 1/500 of a second or faster.



Using a slower shutter speed doesn’t freeze the action – it demonstrates movement by blurring the background


More images are at Lindy Martin’s Website

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