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Shutter Speed: The Art of Motion

Shutter Speed - the amount of time your shutter is open (how fast your camera takes a photo)

Fast shutter speed = 1/125 or higher (1/200, etc)

Slow shutter speed = 1/80 or lower (1/40, etc)

How Your Shutter Speed Helps You:

1. Prevents blur

If your camera shakes and/or your subject is moving, your photo will be blurry if your shutter speed is too low.

Although Arlo was sleeping (thus being still) my camera shock a little bit when I pressed the capture button (more than normal since I was bending down awkwardly). So, I used a relatively high shutter speed (1/100) so that my photo would be clear.

2. Freezes fast moving subjects

If your subject is moving and your shutter speed is fast enough, you will be able to freeze a split second in time. This is often how I capture that perfect moment when photographing kids.

Cora the destroyer moves at SUPER SPEED! To capture her running clearly and without motion blur, I put my shutter speed higher than normal (1/250).

A fast shutter speed also helps to capture those amazing pet moments, like when Cleo the dalmation pounced on Erin!

or individual fake blood droplets during a behind the scenes movie moment!

Expert Exposure tip: A fast shutter speed works well in the bright light. If it's dark, decrease your f.stop as low as it will go while keeping the subject in focus. Then increase your ISO until the photo is bright enough for your liking.

3. Emphasizes Movement

If you want to show the movement of your subject, you can lower your shutter speed and keep your camera as still as possible (use a tripod, rock, tree, anything that doesn't breathe or move)

You can see the difference between a fast and slow shutter speed between these two photos I took of the River at Elkin Creek Vineyard.

This first photo was a result of a fast shutter speed:

With a lower shutter speed, I was able to capture the movement of the water:

You can create all sorts of cool motion effects with a slow shutter speed, especially with anything that glows in darkness!

I took this photo with my first camera back in college. My shutter speed was low as I was taking a photo of Em in the mirror. I heard the first click of my camera (the shutter opening) and then a really big pause where there is usually a second click (the shutter closing). During that time, I moved my camera around a bit, and got this effect:

4. Capture the Night Sky

With a slow shutter speed, you can photograph the stars and moon in the night sky.

This next photo (all credit goes to Weston) was taken with the camera on a table, using a very very low shutter speed. The low shutter speed allowed as the camera to capture as much light as possible from the starry, dark, western sky. (a piece of our hotel room view overlooking monument valley)

I took this photo of the moon with a telephoto lens. At first I took it with a fast shutter speed but it was too dark and you couldn't see as much of the moon as I wanted. I lowered the shutter speed, leaned the camera on our back porch to hold it still (to prevent motion blur) and caught the moon!

I hope this overview gives you the confidence to experiment with your shutter speed.

Now go out there and try it!

(that's me and my baby Arlo. I threw snow up into the air around us right before this photo was taken - with a FAST SHUTTER SPEED )

Get moving,


- how to use your shutter speed - what is shutter speed - when to use a fast shutter speed - when to use a slow shutter speed - how to photograph stars - how to photograph the moon - how to photograph the night sky - how to photograph kids - how to get rid of motion blur - how to make a clear photo/picture - camera manual tutorial - how to use manual settings

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