Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Manual Tutorial #4 ~ Shutter Speed

Have you ever been trying to take a photo of your child as they go running by and all you get is a blur? Or you are trying to take a photo of a waterfall, but it keeps "freezing" the water so it looks choppy rather than flowing and showing movement.  Shutter speed is the key to addressing all of these issues.

When I am getting ready to take a photograph, I decide which is more important: movement or depth of field.  If my priority is to freeze action or show movement, I will set my shutter speed first and aperture second.  Alternately, if my priority is depth of field, I set my aperture first and my shutter speed second.  When I am at my son's soccer game, I am going to want a fast shutter speed.  I need to make sure that my camera will capture the movement and freeze it.

The two photos below show a fast shutter speed and a slow shutter speed.  When you are looking at the numbers underneath the photo, pay attention to the last number.  This will tell you the shutter speed used while taking the photograph.

Fast Shutter Speed

Dancing Couple
Jazz Age Lawn Party, NYC
ISO 200 ~ 53mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/200 sec
© Corrie M Avila

In the photo taken above, the couple was dancing quickly to the 1920's era Jazz music.  I knew I needed to have a fast shutter speed to capture them and freeze the movement.  If you look down towards the man's shoe, you can see that it is slightly blurry.  I should have set my ISO to 400 (rather than 200) so that I could make my shutter speed just a bit faster.

Slow Shutter Speed

Jazz Age Lawn Party, NYC
ISO 200 ~ 125mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/25 sec
© Corrie M Avila

In the photo above, I wanted to show the fast movement of the pianist's hands.  I set my shutter speed slower so that the movement would show.  The piano keys are crisp while the hands are blurred.  Had I used a fast shutter speed here, you would not visually "feel" the movement of the music.  I set my shutter speed to 1/25 sec.  This is much slower than I would recommend hand holding.  You should always use a tripod or something to set the camera on if you are going to go below 1/60 sec.  

Think back to Tutorial #2 where I gave a brief introduction to the three compenents of exposure.  While describing Shutter Speed, I gave the example of your eye.  When you blink quickly (fast shutter speed), not much light enters your eye.  When you stare and leave your eye open for a while (slow shutter speed), a lot of light comes in.  When you set your shutter speed to a fast number, it does not allow a lot of light to enter.  Therefore, if you want to set your shutter speed fast (to freeze movement), you will need to make sure there is enough light coming in to accomadate the quick shutter speed.  If there is not enough light coming in, you can put your ISO higher so that your shutter speed can be set faster.  Remember, all three components (shutter speed, ISO, and aperture) are connected.

If you are taking a photograph of a bird in flight or a race car rounding the last lap in a Nascar race, you are going to need a very fast shutter speed at around 1/1000 sec and up.  Here is a good website from Kodak that explains shutter speeds and what you would generally use them for (scroll down to the bottom for the Shutter Speed graph).

Homework for Tutorial #4

1) Locate where your shutter speed is on your camera.  Get comfortable with this setting so that you are able to adjust your shutter speed with ease.

2) Put your camera in TV mode.  (This is shutter speed priority).  Again, do not get comfortable here.  This is just for now to allow your camera to figure out the other settings while you adjust your shutter speed.  Set your shutter speed to 1/25 sec.  Take a photo and listen to the shutter as it opens and closes.  Write down the settings so you can compare.  Now change the shutter speed to 1/100 sec.  Take a photo and again listen to the shutter as it opens and closes.  Once more, write down the settings on a piece of paper.

3)  Compare your photos as well as your settings.  What did you notice about the aperture and/or ISO as you changed your shutter speed?  Was your first photo blurry as you handheld it?  Was your second photo more crisp?

As you get more comfortable with the individual components of exposure, you will be able to put them all together and take that perfectly exposed photo.  I promise, we will get there and you too will have your "aha" moment.  Hang in there!!  Once we are done with all three components (aperture is remaining), we will start working on the light meter and start applying what we have learned.  As always, if you have ANY questions at all, PLEASE comment, email, or message me on facebook.  I am here to walk you through this and to help you understand these concepts in any way that I can!

Continue forward to Aperture

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's a hard knock military life

This is a little off subject, but it is about something I hold near and dear to my heart.

It's a hard knock military life.

If you are in the military yourself, or part of a military family, you know what I am talking about.  There are deployments, separations, sacrifices, isolation, transfers, moving... saying goodbye more times than you can count....  It's not easy to say the least.

I've mentioned before that my husband is in the military, U.S. Coast Guard to be exact.  We are just getting ready for our fourth move ~ leaving the Washington DC area and heading to Georgia.  This move seems harder than the others as we have really settled in here.  We've made friends, found a church, met neighbors (that took the longest!!) and now it is time to move.... again.

The recent budget cuts on the Military's tuition assistance and other things going on in the political world have had me pondering the outsider's view on the military.  Thankfully tuition assistance for the military will no longer be cut, but this doesn't mean that other military benefits are safe from being cut in the future.

The public's attitude towards the military seems to be either very hot or very cold.  You have those who are supportive, but you also have those who think that the pay and benefits do not match the Military job title.  I'm sorry, but these are men and women putting their LIVES on the line for OUR FREEDOM.  There are suicides, divorces, mental illnesses, combat injuries, and combat deaths ~ for US!!  I firmly believe you cannot put a price on that.  Just yesterday there were three people killed on Quantico Marine Base.  This is a place I go often with my family... It was a murder/suicide situation and although the cause is still unknown (or hasn't been released), the fact remains that one Marine killed two people and then turned the gun on himself.

My husband and I just celebrated our ten year anniversary.  It has not been an easy road, but it is one that we have made.  We got married a few months before he left for basic training and immediately learned how to be "married apart."  A military marriage/relationship is completely different from that of the civilian world.  It almost becomes easier to be apart than to be together.  It is like a yo-yo back and forth between adjusting for life with the family while the military member is deployed/training and then suddenly they are back in the picture... and then yanked away again.  And the family is left fending for themselves without the support of family or friends because they just moved to a new area, are in another country, don't speak the native language... the list can go on.  

My Husband and I at the White House
(photoshopped part of his uniform out for privacy reasons)

I can count more holidays spent apart than together.  We've celebrated birthdays a month late, Christmas after New Years, and Thanksgiving the day before... all because the "needs of the service" come first.  Another issue is the negative stigma within the military population towards mental health and asking for help with relationship problems/issues.  Most end up sweeping things under the carpet rather than dealing with them... until it becomes too late.

So yes, we are able to buy items tax free at the exchange and commissary, use the USO lounge at the airport (my personal favorite :), buy cheaper gas, get 10% off discount sometimes while shopping, have medical coverage, receive tuition assistance, and use the GI Bill.... but this is ALL at the great cost of every man and woman putting their lives on the line DAILY and the CONSTANT sacrifices made of the family.

If you meet someone from the military, don't shun them because you know they are only temporary.  Rather, invest in their lives.  Open your hearts.  Invite them over for holidays because chances are they will be celebrating alone.  Offer a listening and supportive ear.  Share your local favorites and introduce them to your friends.  Be a friend... because chances are the exterior you see that looks so put together is rather the opposite.  They are most likely a facade of delicately placed puzzle pieces ready to fall apart at a moments notice.

I love my husband and I am proud of the service he gives to this country.  I know that it is a sacrifice that both he and I make for the safety and freedom of all of you.  Before you judge what  it is like from the outside, just take a minute to think about what it is like on the inside.

To all those brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice, I am eternally grateful.  My heart, prayers, and tears go out to your families and children who are to continue on without you.

Solemnly Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In like a Lion and out like a Lion!

Yesterday marked the official first day of Spring, but with temps here in the DC area hovering around 30 degrees, you wouldn't know it.  I'm starting to see trees budding and daffodils popping up, but they are slow moving thanks to the cold and winterish start to Spring.

Due to the end of March forecasting snow and more freezing weather, the National Park Service has now joined the forecast of the Capital Weather Gang, for a peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms to be between April 3-6.  This is FANTASTIC news for me as I now have more of an opportunity to get down there to take photos.  I had alternate obligations for next week which was their initial prediction for the blooms.

Cherry Blossoms at Sunset
Tidal Basin, Washington DC
ISO 100 ~ 28mm ~ f/6.4 ~ 1/125 sec
© Corrie M Avila

If you are planning on coming to the DC area to experience the Cherry Blossoms, keep an eye on the bloom watch.  As they start filling in the squares, their predictions become more and more accurate.

With Spring comes the promise of warmer temperatures, colorful blooms, and the reminder that life grows and flourishes even after the dormancy of winter.

I am also going to start offering the opportunity for my readers to guest blog to show of some of your Springtime photos.  Please email me at ~ travelingheartsphotography(at) if you are interested!

For tips on photographing the Cherry Blossoms click here :) 

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cherry Blossom Festivals around the World

Cherry Blossom festivals and celebrations are not limited just to the Washington DC area.  There are celebrations all over the country as well as all around the world.  Here is a listing of some celebrations and/or iconic places to view the cherry blossoms that may be in your neck of the woods.

United States


Himeji Castle in Hyogo, Japan

I personally am excited about the Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, GA as this will be driving distance to our new duty station.  Another location to note is the Himeji Castle in Japan.  Imagine how beautiful it must be to see this epic and iconic castle surrounded by cherry blossoms!  This location is one for sure to be added to my Photography Bucket List.

Washington Monument 
Framed by Cherry Blossoms
ISO 100 ~ 28mm ~ f/5.7 ~ 1/100 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Since winter is hanging on in the Nation's Capital, the Capital Weather Gang is forecasting a later peak bloom to be on/around April 5th.  The National Park Service is staying with their original prediction of March 26-30th.  Basically, we don't know when the blossoms will make their anticipated arrival, but as it gets closer, we will know a little more accurately.  

If you aren't able to see the Cherry Blossoms this year, please make plans at some point to do so.  They are gorgeous and beautiful and worth the time and effort!  The best part is that you don't necessarily have to make it to Washington DC, as there are plenty of other places that may be closer to you that have celebrations.  If you know of one I haven't listed, please comment below so I can add it!

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Dates Announced!

The news I have been anxiously waiting on is here!  The National Park Service issued their prediction for the Cherry Blossom peak bloom dates to peak from March 26 through March 30th.  This news is bittersweet for me as I will not be in the DC area during that week... For selfish reasons I am crossing my fingers for an earlier bloom so that I can photograph my favorite time of the year.

Jefferson Memorial framed by Cherry Blossoms
ISO 125 ~ 44mm ~ f/5.7 ~ 1/60 sec
© Corrie M Avila

As it gets closer, the park service will be able to give a more up to date prediction and I will in turn update you as well.

If you missed my earlier post of tips on photographing the Cherry Blossoms ~ click here

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3