Photography Basics #2 – Shutter Speed In Photography

Shutter speed - Freezing action or creation motion blur

Shutter speed – Freezing action or creation motion blur

In the second of my blog articles on photography basics, I will elaborate a bit more on shutter speed and how you can put this to better use in order to create better photographs.

Shutter speed in film photography was the length of time, measured in seconds or fractions of a second, the film was exposed to the subject being photographed. In digital photography it is the length of time the camera’s sensor is exposed to the subject being photographed.

Shutter speed controls the light and influences the motion being captured in a photograph. The faster the shutter speed the less light, and thus it will freeze the motion, i.e. 1/500th or 1/1000th of a second.

A slow shutter speed will allow for more light and will blur motion, i.e. ¼ of a second, 2 seconds, etc.

It is recommended that with slower shutter speed, the camera is placed on a tri-pod or a sturdy surface to try to avoid camera shake associated with a slow shutter speed.

If hand-holding the camera is the only option available, to avoid camera shake, the shutter speed must preferable be at least 1.5x the focal length. For example, if you have a fixed 50mm lens on the camera and you are photographing using a slow shutter speed, the shutter speed should not be slower than 1/75th of a second and if you have zoomed in of your zoom lens to let’s say 150mm, the shutter speed should not be slower than 1/225th of a second.

There are other changes that can be made in order to allow for a faster shutter speed if needed, i.e. change the aperture or ISO, but these will be discussed in a future article.

Shutter priority is best used when capturing motion blur or freezing motion in sports photography or action photography. It is also used when you want to blur the motion in landscapes with water, such as a waterfall or waves washing up onto a beach. Shutter speed will also come into play in low light conditions, when a slower shutter speed is required, however be aware of camera shake in such cases.

Your exercise for the next few weeks are to find photography opportunities where you want to either capture motion blur or freeze action. Feel free to publish your photographs on the blog article for everyone to see.

Related posts:
Photography Basics #1 – What are all the modes on the camera dial?

If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, please leave a comment below.

Feel free to regularly visit PiKs Photography website for information on Portrait, Event, Corporate and Commercial Photography and Photographic Products such as canvas prints and photo books.

2 thoughts on “Photography Basics #2 – Shutter Speed In Photography

  1. Pingback: Photography Basics #3 – Aperture in Photography « PiKs Photography

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