Shutter Speed experimentation

As I announced last week in conjunction with my purchase of a 55mm extension tube for my Hasselblad, its’s spring, plants are starting to bloom and that it’s also Memory Pods time of year again.

While discussing this project during my artist talk in March in conjunction with the exhibition of this body of work at The Photographer’s Eye gallery, I elaborated on what I was experimenting with in 2020. Essentially including multiple subjects within the frame as potential metaphors for the the fact that families and friends are also effected when someone has Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or any mental illness. An illness can impact everyone. And life events get more complex. Each year I find myself investigating another aspect of our humanity using this botanical subject.

This past year, I also realized that even before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease that an individual begins to have anxieties which steadily increase during the early stages until the point that their memories have faded. So how does one create images that are visual metaphors for anxiety? What I understand is that anxiety is manifest in a feeling of underlying tension, being on edge and something does not seem right. The more anxiety that is felt, the stronger that these underlying feelings become.

I had explored the use of slow shutter speeds in the past to visually simulate what tension might appear look like; the subject is not in focus with blurring of the edges, the subject is not sharp but ‘soft’. This can be kind be hard to look at as we usually prefer sharply defined subjects and thus for me, this type of image does create a visual tension and puts me on edge.

Recently I created a series of Memory Pods images with a slow shutter speed as a part of my experimental/play process; stopping down the lens to about f/11 and keeping the EI at 100 which resulted in a shutter speed of 1/8th of a second for the overcast morning. And hand holding the camera; on a tripod it would not have mattered if the shutter speed was less than 1/60th of a second, which is about my lower shutter speed limit hand holding and attempting to create a ‘sharp’ photograph. Even when I really try to steady myself; digging my elbows into my body, holding my breath just prior and through the exposure, at 1/8th of a second there will be some soft blurry elements in the resulting photograph.

I will add this slow shutter speed to my other experiments with this series as the blooms progress through their flowering cycle this year as well as some other post-processing messing around. I am not exactly sure of what I want these images to look like after the post-processing so that will be another series of experiments. Cool!



Featured artwork: Memory Pod #0966 copyright 2021 Douglas Stockdale

Next exhibition:

May 7th – 29th, 2021, Southeast Center for Photography (SEC4P), Greenville, South Carolina. A group photographic exhibition on the theme of Flora, juried by Wendi Schneider. Opening concurrent with Greenville’s First Friday events while there will not be a formal artists reception of this exhibition due to the pandemic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: