Here are three more shots from the Free Syria rally I came upon a month back. I hope the day will come that the turbulent times these photos reflect will be nothing but history. The day will come and Syria will be free. I suspect the entire Middle East will one day be free. And these photos will hopefully represent a part of that dark history, never to be repeated.
I was reading one of Scott Kelby’s books on photography at the bookstore on my lunch hour the other day, and I learned a tip that would have been very useful for this type of photography.
The above photos were captured at 1/60th to 1/200th of a second. That’s fast enough, usually, but my subjects were marching down the street in constant movement. I ended up with a handful of shots that were a tad blurry, due to movement. All three shots above were taken at ISO 100 and at F5.6.
Now watch this: Had I increased my ISO by two stops to 400, my shutter speed would have doubled, twice! So, my one shot taken at 1/60th of a second would have doubled once to 1/120th of a second (by moving the ISO up a stop to 200), then again to 1/240th of a second (by moving the ISO up another stop to 400). Moving my ISO up again by a stop to 800 would have given me a shutter speed of approximately 1/500th of a second, ensuring my shots were nice and sharp. Now, I could have widened my aperture but I was already shooting at F5.6 and didn’t want to narrow the depth of field (the amount of the scene that remains in focus).
Just to be clear: The ISO affects the sensor’s sensitivity to light, meaning that the higher the ISO setting, the less light is needed to achieve proper exposure. Full stops of ISO are: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400… Each time you increase your ISO a stop, your camera needs that much less light to achieve proper exposure.
In “Aperture Priority” (which locks the aperture — mine was set to F5.6) the camera compensates for the increased sensitivity due to a higher ISO setting by increasing the speed of the shutter (which, by doing so, lets less light in). Shutter speeds are also counted by stops, such as: 1/2 second, 1/4 second, 1/8th second, 1/15th, 1/30th, 1/60th, 1/125th, 1/250th, 1/500, 1/1000 and so on…
For each stop you increase your ISO, your camera will increase the shutter speed by a stop, assuming the aperture is locked. This is valuable to know since when it comes to getting sharp shots, it’s all about the shutter speed.
Shutter speed: Typically, anything under 1/30th of a second makes it difficult to hold the camera steady enough to get a sharp shot. I can get a sharp shot at as low as 1/15th of a second, but it’s hit and miss. At 1/60th of a second, you’ll still see movement in the legs of people walking through your shot. Cyclists will be blurry. If you wish to freeze walking people entirely, you should be shooting above 1/120th of a second, maybe as high as 1/160th of a second. If you wish to freeze a cyclist riding through your shot, increase your shutter speed to something in the 1/250th range. Once you begin to think about shutter speeds, you’ll find yourself thinking about upping the ISO or widening your aperture (wider aperture = more light, which = faster shutter speeds).
Anyway, thought I’d throw that out there. If I’ve gotten anything wrong, feel free to jump in and correct me. If you have any questions, ask away.