Shorten that Shutter Speed!

One thing I've learnt this past year, spending most mornings taking photographs by the oceans edge, has been how much of an impact varying shutter speeds play in the outcome of your image. Not only can if effect the appearance of your image, but also the feeling/emotion the image portrays. An image can go from feeling moody and mystical with a super slow shutter speed, to much more dramatic and tense, with a faster (yet still slow) shutter speed. Let me show you an example of an image with a very slow shutter speed. As you can see the water has a very dreamy, almost smokey, look.


That, compared to an image with a much shorter shutter speed has more of a dramatic and dynamic feel. It gives you the feeling you're standing right there on the rocks with the water rushing past your feet.


Granted, these images are completely different and I believe that each of the images called for the shutter speeds that I shot them with. But, you can't argue that the different texture in the water (due to the differing shutter speeds) doesn't completely alter the mood/feel of these images.

Now, lets compare that to these two images below. Both shot from exactly the same angle, location (Austinmer, NSW) and time of day but, one has a relatively short shutter speed of 0.4" while the other one has a much longer shutter speed of 10".

I guess the point I'm getting at in this post is that you don't always need to shoot super long exposures when shooting seascapes. I fell into the trap of thinking that these long exposures looked better because maybe they were harder to do or that they were more impressive to non-photographers. But the truth is, they each have their own place in conveying a message or mood to the viewer or photographer. Just don't think that because it's a seascape, it needs to have that "clichéd" super smooth, milky  or smokey water. Don't get me wrong, that can look great - but some images may be stronger with a bit of water movement in the foreground. In the end, it is up to you as the artist to shoot the scene how you wish!