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Photography and Exposure Time

by Editor Swapnil.

It is said that time was one of the biggest reason why people ever started to take pictures. The desire to look into the interval of time between events, the desire to analyse the passage of that time and to make an ephemeral moment into a long lasting record was basically the reason why photography first came into existence. No other medium could essentially capture time itself and by definition recording between events.  It was obvious that the record we had was essentially THE “time”!

These of course were the very first observations when photography first came into inception during the days of Daguerre and Niepce where even for a portrait, the exposure times used to be high that an appreciable amount of time went through in making them.

As the technology improved, so did the demands of the world and people using a camera. It was a must to record the events between the shortest intervals of time and the longest ones. The physical quantity ‘t’ could be anywhere between 1/8000th of a second to as high as an hour or even more in some cases.
In both the cases short or long, the physical result was the same: the print.
Sports and wildlife photographers primarily needed to record the occurrences between the split seconds and other genres,  like landscapes and astrophotographers, needed a larger time between the events.

The two images below are giving a simple view on how an entity like 'time' gives a different facet of similar events.


“Eclipse 2017” by Matt Anderson


“2017 total solar eclipse” by Hua Zhu

As ages passed by, artists started to distinguish themselves from the documenters.  A myriad of experiments related to timings came up. It was common to see timings being shortened and elongated for pure sake of making Art rather than just to document the scientists. Landscape photographers were able to expose their film the whole night as well as just for a moment to capture the bird flying by in a split second. 

Using slightly elongated times while moving the camera resulted in a totally new style- panning or intended camera motion in all genres and the effect was highly appreciated.


“Abstract Fall” by Andreas Christensen


“three” by milan malovrh

In general, the shutter speed defines the mood in a photograph. A fast shutter essentially creates a dynamic and powerful mood whereas a slower and longer exposure gives a timeless and melodious feeling to an image.

In both cases,  it always is important that the decisive moment is recorded.  The way it was taken creates the mood related to that moment. What the result is, lies in the hands of the photographer himself.

A very simple and ubiquitous example showing this effect is running water. Fast shutter speed images of waves show us the raw power of the ocean and long exposures are giving the water a silky smooth and calming effect.


“Sunset. Arnia. Cantabria. Spain” by Martin Zalba


“Rough sea 12” by Giovanni Allievi


“4 a.m.” by Sean Foo


“!” by Yucel Basoglu

One more example is photographing stars. 500 is basically the shutter speed needed if you want the stars to be pinpoint without showing trails.
On the other hand,  exposing for a longer time or stacking shorter exposures can give beautiful star trails.


“Circling The Dead” by Marsel van Oosten


Milky Way on Cannon Beach” by Steve Hallmark

Apart from these examples, a plethora of images can show us the effect of varying shutter speeds resulting in different moods. There is no law or written rule for this as what works and pleases to one person may not for another.

In the following gallery,  I try to juxtapose the use of shutter speeds and give you a ready reckoner in terms of moods being created due to it. It’s worthwhile to mention that the beauty of the moment didn't suffer of it.  Instead, just the feeling and mood drastically changed.

I was really glad that one can find a plethora of moody images by amazing 1x you photographers. Enjoy this fine gallery!


“Fight Between Rainbows” by Marco Redaelli

“The Race begins” by Swapnil.

“Attention Grabber” by Max Rive


“High Tide” by Max Rive


“The Cime di Lavaredo” by Mikaliuk Siarhei


”Tre Cime di luce” by Juan Pablo de Miguel


“***” by Hervé Loire


“moments” by swapnil.


"Musing through my window" by Yvette Depaepe


"Planet Shanghai II” by Ivan Friedman


“Good Morning Shanghai” by Jesús M. Garciá


“n/t” by Hilde Ghesquiere


“Troops” by Mohammed Alnaser


“The lives of others” by Mal Smart


“Aerial view from the bridge” by Sergio Murria


“Cold Morning Flight” by Doug Roane


“Autumn Weather, Autumn Mood

Great article!!
Very interesting article illustrated with exceptional photos!
Interesting article and very inspiring!
Excellent, interesting article, fabulous photo selection. Thanks Swapnil and Ywette, congratulation to all authors.
Thanks a lot miro
Swapnil, thank you much for this interesting article and those fantastic photos !!
Thanks a lot ina!
Very grateful dear Yvette!!!
Marvellous images, splendid article. Thank Swapnill and Yvette !!!
Thanks a lot thierry!!
Great work ! Always interesting topic: time
Thank you :)
Thank you swapnil!
Really goood reading and so true.
Thank u
Good and most importantly correct article. Photography is an art, and you need to try to maximize the potential of the camera and using the camera to show what is not visible.
thanks a lot !!
I have enjoyed it to the maximum, I think you have picked some of the best landscape on the 1x
thanks so much!
Excelente. Thank you
thank you !
Thanks for sharing this great article, Swapnil. Congratulations to all the authors. Wish you all a great weekend ahead. Cheers, Yvette
thanks a lot yvette for your support !!
thanks so much !
Nice, interesting, well presented article. Love the collection of images. Great work!
thanks so much!