Photography Tip: Playing with Shutter Speed

Today’s photography tutorial will discuss your camera’s shutter speed, specifically in relation to movement. With a few camera setting tweaks, you can capture great photos that accentuate action or freeze it for a lifetime. But before we get into some great ideas, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page on what the shutter speed is. The shutter speed controls the amount of time you lens is exposed to light. I like to think of it as the camera's eyelid, opening and closing to allow the camera to "see." How fast it blinks, or how hard it tries to keep its "eyes" open would then be the shutter speed. A fast shutter speed will open and close the shutter quickly, while a slower shutter speed will keep the shutter open for a longer amount of time.

via Breathtaking Examples of Long Exposure Photography by Kawsar AliFast and Slow Shutters

When adjusting the shutter speed on your camera, you’ll notice that it is in fraction form. On average, camera shutter speeds are about 1/60th of a second. For faster shutter speeds, the denominator will have a bigger number. 1/100th, for example, is faster than 1/60th. The denominator of a slower shutter will have a smaller number. A shutter speed of 1/30th is half as slow as 1/60th. A great guideline on shutter speeds for various scenarios can be found here. Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s discuss some examples on when we’d want to manipulate the shutter speed.

Quick shutter speeds are great for freezing a particular moment in time. Whether you’re capturing the slide into third base or photographing the kids as they play tag outside, a fast shutter speed will give you crisp, clear pictures.

Sports Photo Kids PhotoSlower shutter speeds accentuate the movement in your photo. This usually results in a more “artistic” type photo. You can use a slower shutter speed to capture the movement of spinning carousels or running water. It is also ideal for capturing moving cars and star trails.

via 45 Breathtaking Examples of Slow Shutter Speed Photography by AN JayAmusement Park Ride

via Principles of Photography- Shutter Speed (Controlling Motion) by White on Rice CoupleWater Movement

Our favorite use for slow shutter speeds is something we refer to as light painting. Light painting involves a flashlight, sparkler, or any portable light you can safely hold. Taking place at night or in a dark area/room, click the shutter button to expose your lens. With your portable light on, “paint” away until the shutter closes. Now, take a look at your masterpiece!

via Light + Slow shutter speed = Epic victory by Bob

Light painting is a great way to get the kids up and moving, sparking their creative minds as they paint on their photo canvases. You can draw pictures, designs, or even write words! Your only limitations are your imagination.

Remember, when using a slow shutter speed, you’ll want to make sure that you have a tripod handy. Using a tripod will ensure that a part of your photo is in focus, and that it's not just a blurry mess! You need that focused portion to show that the subject is actually moving, instead of the camera taking the photo.

We hope you’ve taken some useful information from this post! To learn more about shutter speeds, click on our example photos for more tips from various authors! :) Don't forget to share your photos with us! We can’t wait to see how all your photos turn out!

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