The Digital Photo Guy

Follow Up to Shutter Speed

by on Jan.05, 2010, under Monday Morning Tips

Freezing Fred’s Beak

This week’s MMT (posted on Saturday, 1/2) had blurred images of Fred’s beak (shoebill stork) as he chatters (calls). I was curious to know how much of the blur was due to slow shutter speed versus hand-holding so I went back on Sunday. Now, granted, this wasn’t a rigorous scientific test but I was able to confirm that Fred’s beak can be frozen with a faster shutter speed. On the blurred images, I was using 1/1000 second and this time, I used 1/2000 second. I’d like to have taken some at slower speeds but Fred chattered 3 times in 3 hours. The first and third times, he chattered for about 5 seconds so I got a few shots. The second time, he chattered only for 2 seconds which wasn’t long enough for me to get shots. Overall, in 3 hours, I fired off 150+ frames and got 3 usable photos. Another issue is that Fred rapidly blinks his nictitating eyelid while chattering. I managed to capture many images of him with weird “Night of the Living Dead” eyes as in the first photo (below).


There are other variables that make this a less than rigorous test. The previous photos were taken with a handheld Canon 70-200/4L while, this time, I used my 300/2.8L on a very robust tripod. The Canon 70-200/4L is a very sharp lens (even sharper than the venerable 70-200/2.8L) but the Canon 300/2.8L is a very, very, very sharp lens. Coupled with my Gitzo 3530LS, Markins M3 and Wimberley Sidekick, stability was way beyond any hand-holding.

Bottom line, I’ve demonstrated that, under the right circumstances, Fred’s beak can be sharply frozen while chattering. I need to go back with my 70-200/4L and Gitzo tripod to see if I can replicate similar sharpness. If I can do that, I’ll know that Fred’s beak vibrates at very high speed when chattering and shutter speed in excess of 1/2000 second is needed to avoid blur.

FREE Photoshop Elements Webinar

I need more victims participants for the FREE Photoshop Elements webinar test next week (Wed, Jan 13, 6PM Pacific Time). I plan to cover photo restoration techniques as a way to test a new webinar system that can accommodate 3x more students than my previous system. To register, please send an e-mail from my Contact page and I’ll add you to the invitation list.

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