Behind The Scenes | "Shutter Speed is King" | Article and 3 Photos by Stephen Fisher

I believe most of us really enjoy walking along the beach. It’s fascinating to watch the waves of water rush ashore and then recede back into the surf. Well, we don’t have a lot of BIG surf here in Rockport. But what we do have is a beautiful blue wave beach at Rockport Beach.  And yes…there are waves to photograph there!

This is a photo I recently made at Rockport Beach.  And I’d like to tell you how to make this type of shot…

Catching the movement of the water like I did in the image above is all about shutter speed. Too slow of a shutter speed will just give you a frozen, still view of the water. Too long of a shutter speed will blur the water so that it has a milky look. Both of these might be desirable for certain shots…but NOT this one!

Image source

I wanted this shot (above) to be all about the entire cycle of the wave. It was important for me to catch the frothy wave coming ashore…and then capture those tiny streamlets returning to the bay. I also wanted to catch some of the incoming waves as they crested and broke. A shutter speed of ½ a second allowed me to capture all of these different moments in one image.

This image of waves (above) was made in manual mode. Most days, I shoot in manual mode because I want to control everything…shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.  It was still pretty dark out when I made this image, so I had to make sure all three of these functions were right. Automatic modes work well for many images, but typically not when you want to have control over the blur of the water.

Here are a couple of images that I made using different shutter speeds to achieve different looks.

OK…To sum it up, shutter speed is king in a lot of the photos you might want to make capturing moving water and other scenes. Use a REALLY fast shutter speed to stop movement and a VERY slow shutter speed for that “dreamy” look. Something in between lets you add your own creative touch.

Let’s see what you can do when working with various shutter speeds. As always, I’d love to answer any of your questions in the comments section. Good luck!

Stephen Fisher and his wife Sharon have lived in Rockport for almost 5 years. Stephen Is a full time nature photographer with gallery representations here in Rockport and in Corpus Christi. Their favorite question is “What took us so long to get here to Rockport?”

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