Join the race for amazing prizes and everlasting glory and submit your finest photos to our ongoing competitions such as Road to Photokina 2016 - Hiding Places. Good luck!

Back To Basics: Capturing Time

2012-10-29 3

Einstein may have denounced the possibility of time travel, but the greatest thing about our first love, photography, is that it gives us the ability to stop time. This final Back to Basics article gives you the power to choose how.

Credits: adam_g2000

Before you read on, you may wish to go through my previous articles. You will need to know about aperture and shutter speed to follow this one.

Your shutter speed and aperture do more than just allow you to control depth of field, they allow you to choose how to stop time. As previously discussed, if your shutter has to stay open for a long time, you get camera shake if it’s handheld, whack that camera on a tripod or stable surface though, and using a cable release, you can fix everything except things in your frame that are moving.

Conversely, if you set a very high shutter speed (depending on the speed of the thing you are shooting) you can stop that movement with tack sharp clarity.

You can see in the picture below, that I’ve opened up the aperture of my SLR, and set a high film speed in an attempt to capture the droplets of water in this fountain. Something the eye has trouble doing.

Tripod 1/1000 of a second.

However in this picture below, I’ve done the opposite, I’ve closed the aperture down and set a slower film speed, thereby capturing the flow of the water for a more dreamy effect.

Tripod 1/8 of a second.

Making things flow, blurry people crossing streets, flowing water, etc. is fairly easy and can be done with most cameras (more below), but stopping motion can require a very fast shutter speed and mostly only SLRs will allow you to do this. The shutter speed required to freeze time without blur will depend entirely on what you are shooting and how far away it is. A train, 10s of meters away from you may be ‘stoppable’ with 1/100, closer it could be well over 1/1000.

Fast enough to stop the bubbles, but not enough to stop the movement.

For a very intense lesson on achieving this, check out How to Calculate a Minimum Shutter Speed to Yield an Adequately Sharp Image of a Moving Object, there is a great chart there with some rules of thumb.

As we’ve progressed over the past 8 months we’ve learned about the trilogy of variables required to get a perfect shot, we’ve now got to learn how to use them with finesse, especially for capturing movement. This is something that will take you practice to do, without flexible ISO, something that a digital camera can do, you may want to achieve both of these effects on the same roll of film. In order to do that you need to play around with a light meter, the one in an SLR will do, until you can grab the right film for the day. Read, Back To Basics: Film 101 and Back To Basics: Aperture and Depth of Field if this isn’t clear. Ultimately, you know that you are going to be locked into certain Aperture Values and Shutter Speeds, so you are going to have to carefully choose the ISO, the speed, of your film.

You don’t have to own an SLR to achieve these effects, but you do have to be able to override you camera. Automatic cameras like our favorite, the LC-A is pretty much out. A manual camera like the Lubitel is perfect for the job, with its range of apertures and shutter speeds, you can stop time or blur things. You’ve got complete control.

Examples from the community of stopped or blurred time.

A Diana, Holga or La Sardina is another matter, your shutter speed is fixed and the aperture isn’t going to make a big difference to your choice. You can see (if you read the distance chart) that you can freeze time at a distance, but close up, it’s a no go. It is easy though to blur things. You’ve got a wonderful trick up your sleeve on those cameras – the B (bulb) switch.

Set you camera to Bulb mode, whack it on a tripod, use a cable release, and you can open the shutter as long as you like, you just need to make sure your film is slow enough to provide you with a long enough exposure. A light meter will come in handy.

I won’t go into it here (it’s a story for another to tell), but the last word should go to Pinhole Photography. Due to its nature that all shots made this way are very slow.

Credits: neanderthalis, azurblue, janiemeringuepie & adam_g2000

I hope you enjoyed this series of articles as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. The biggest pleasure has been the discussions in the comments, and all the private messages I’ve had with questions, feedback or requests for more information. I thank you!

My new series will start next month, tentatively titled, ‘Basics Applied’. Each month I will select a Lomography camera and discuss it in terms of technical techniques and how to apply theory to said camera. I hope you will enjoy it.

We’re going out with a a bang! The team at Lomography have very kindly allowed me to suggest a Back to Basics Rumble, you can find that here, I look forward to seeing all your entries so get out there and show us what you’re made of!

And with that my friends, our time has come to an end!

Back to Basics is a monthly Tipster series by Adam Griffiths where he seeks to impart a little more technical film photography knowledge. For each installment, he chooses a fundamental subject and explains it quickly and in simple terms (with examples where possible).

written by adam_g2000 on 2012-10-29 #gear #tutorials #time #shutter-speed #long-exposures #bulb-mode #iso #camera #tipster #film #asa #lens #back-to-basics


  1. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    This is a very nice subject to end this series. I am looking forward to reading your next series.

  2. kiri-girl
    kiri-girl ·

    Great Adam! Looking forward to the next series! :)

  3. nuo2x2
    nuo2x2 ·

    oh Adam, another excellent article!
    you make basics into a must-know-for-everyone type of articles

More Interesting Articles

  • A Secret of the Cosmos: History of a Cosmonaut

    written by Lomography on 2016-01-20 #news #gear
    A Secret of the Cosmos: History of a Cosmonaut

    Are you as excited about our new product launch as we are? We can hardly stand the wait, but we're almost at the final frontier! We may be keeping this secret at (docking)bay before our galactic reveal this Thursday, but in the meantime, here are some hilarious and historical fun facts about Russian Space Travel to give you a few more clues about our cosmic secret.

    2016-01-20 11
  • Estonian Intersections of Sight and Sound

    written by jennifer_pos on 2015-10-28
    Estonian Intersections of Sight and Sound

    Would you rather lose your vision or your hearing? As photographers, we might choose the latter without a second thought, especially while viewing the festival photos that photographer Mart Vares captured with the New Petzval 85 Lens. Still, who doesn’t love the pleasant mechanical shutter sound of an old SLR that makes us commit to analog photography? While following the Nordic delegation at this years Waves Central Europe, we caught up with the Estonian band, Würffel, whose songs leave us feeling equally delighted.

  • Mallorynox and her Weapon of Choice: Diana F+

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-08-29 #gear
    Mallorynox and her Weapon of Choice: Diana F+

    Barbora Smoláková's first brush with lomography started with a Diana F+ Deluxe Kit. With its variety of accessories, the Diana F+ allowed her to explore the endless possibilities of creative photography. In this interview, she opens up about her experience shooting with this versatile camera and how it helped her appreciate the beauty of ordinary things.

    2015-08-29 3
  • Shop News

    Save 15% on Lomography Film when bought with the Lubitel!

    Save 15% on Lomography Film when bought with the Lubitel!

    This beautiful camera features such ability to let users choose and switch between 35mm or 120 formats! Shoot more, save more! Get 15% discount on Lomography Films when you purchase film with the Lubitel camera!

  • Celeste Ortiz: Analog Possibilities

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-10-06 #people
    Celeste Ortiz: Analog Possibilities

    Photography has been described as a time-stopping device, something that “freezes” an action. This moment on-pause is the most salient; all conversation about the picture will tend to pin down the beauty of that second. Celeste Ortiz’s photos make us think of something else. A sense of continuation.

    2015-10-06 9
  • Newcomer of the Week: skyler_burkhart

    written by Lomography on 2015-12-20
    Newcomer of the Week: skyler_burkhart

    At first, Skyler only visited the Lomography website to take a look at sample photographs taken with different point-and-shoot cameras. Seeing the immense focus given by the community to film photography and experimentation, two things she absolutely loves, she immediately signed up and started her own LomoHome. In this interview, she talks about her go-to camera, the difference between digital and film photography and more.

    2015-12-20 1
  • A Hybrid of Drawn Photograms by Vanessa Marsh

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-08-25 #news
    A Hybrid of Drawn Photograms by Vanessa Marsh

    Contemporary artist Vanessa Marsh redefines the printed photograph in the absence of a camera, and with the presence of paintings and drawings assembled in the darkroom instead.

    2016-08-25 2
  • Shop News

    Additional Member of Diana F+ Family is Here!

    Additional Member of Diana F+ Family is Here!

    Snap your happy memories with the medium format Diana F+ Cortina! This special edition camera is a nod to fun winter holidays: snow-capped mountains, skiing and good times with friends and family!

  • Around the World in Analogue: Puno, Peru

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-08-26 #places
    Around the World in Analogue: Puno, Peru

    "Around the World in Analogue" is your bite-size guide to the most amazing travel destinations across the globe, as documented by the members of the Lomography community. Today, lomographer Claudia Oliva takes us to Puno, Peru.

  • New Magazine Series: Around the World in Analogue

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-08-25 #places
    New Magazine Series: Around the World in Analogue

    Calling all Lomographers who love to wander (we know there's a lot of you)! We're introducing a new series called "Around the World in Analogue". It's your bite-sized guide to all the amazing destinations you've been to. We're collecting submissions, so share your travel tidbits with us!

  • Hiroshi Sugimoto's Ode to Abandoned Theaters

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-08-25 #news #places
    Hiroshi Sugimoto's Ode to Abandoned Theaters

    The ruins of abandoned movie theaters all around the world are painted in portraits by acclaimed Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto.

  • Shop News

    The New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens now ready to ship!

    The New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens now ready to ship!

    Great news! Our previous KickStarter success, the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens, is now in stock and ready to ship! What are you waiting for? Go to the shop and grab yours now!

  • A Russar+ Roadtrip with Mowgli

    written by rosalbavasc on 2016-08-25 #people #places
    A Russar+ Roadtrip with Mowgli

    Adrian Morris is a young photographer who also goes by the name of Mowgli. His combination of sharp details and insightful portraiture caught our eye so we had a chat with him about what attracted him to the photographic world and his travel goals.

  • More Helpful and Practical Pointers from Street Photographer Eric Kim

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-08-25 #people #tutorials #videos
    More Helpful and Practical Pointers from Street Photographer Eric Kim

    If you're a budding shutterbug impatiently waiting for your 'decisive moment', street shooter Eric Kim has some easy, yet surefire composition tips that will turn you into a professional in an instant.

  • Lomography is now on Snapchat!

    written by Lomography on 2016-08-25 #news
    Lomography is now on Snapchat!

    Are you on Snapchat? Well, you better start creating your profile for we'll be sharing some delightful news there soon!