This week we learned about shutter speed and experimented with both slow and fast shutter speeds, and with manual mode. Why use shutter priority you might ask? The trick is to know what you want out of your photo. If you want a shallow depth of field or conversely everything in focus, you would probably want to choose aperture priority mode. If you want to blur the background or the subject to give a sense of motion, you would want shutter priority mode. A good example of this would be taking photos of a waterfall or ocean waves. If you want those beautiful, soft shots of water pouring over rocks you would use a very slow shutter, or if you want to catch all the water drops mid-air you would use a very fast shutter speed.
The part that has always confused me is the numbers. When I looked through my camera I could never figure out what the numbers on the bottom of the viewfinder meant: 25, 100, 8000. Basically those are fractions of a second, so you just have to remember to put a 1/ in front of those numbers. So: 1/25, 1/100, 1/8000. The higher the number the smaller the fraction of a second, so the faster the shutter speed. That's why it's as confusing as aperture--it's always backwards! When something's higher it means smaller or when something's bigger the number is smaller. Why couldn't they make it easy! Once you understand it though, it does begin to make sense.
So the assignment this week was to first of all try shooting in manual mode, which I could now do once I understood the way the numbers all work. Secondly we were to experiment with different shutter speeds, both fast and slow. I tried two basic ways of shooting with a slow shutter. First, while my son rode his bike in front of me I tried panning my camera with him in order to blur the background while leaving him (hopefully) in focus. It's not always easy to get the speed and timing right on this one! Second, I held the camera still while he rode by, thereby keeping the background in focus but blurring him. I also tried the panning method with my other son running by me. Which do you prefer?