Shutter Speed {All You Need To Know} – A Bloggography Tutorial

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It’s time for another addition of Bloggography! Today we’ll concentrate on shutter speed.

Bloggography at Better in Bulk

Visit my co-host, Manic Mother!

What is shutter speed?

Shutter speed is the amount of time that the camera’s shutter (or the opening that lets light into the camera’s sensors) stays open. The shutter speed is measured in seconds (or fractions of seconds). A shutter speed of ½ of a second is considered a very slow (or long) shutter speed, while 1/1000 is considered a very fast (or short) shutter speed. In other words, a short shutter speed has a smaller number on the bottom. A fast shutter speed has a larger number on the bottom. According to a camera, a second is a very long time.

What shutter speed should you use?

Here’s what you want to remember:

  1. Use a fast shutter speed to stop action, or for fast-moving subjects.
  2. Use a slow shutter speed to let in more light (in lower light situations), for stationary subjects, or to show motion.

Here are a few examples:

I caught this silly shot of Necco jumping over a line of pumpkins last October by using a very fast shutter speed (1/500). As you can imagine, she wasn’t in the air for very long. If I had used a slow shutter speed such as 1/10 (of a second) she would be a blur of orange in the air.

shutter speed-a photography tutorial

Here is a photo I took of the food table at a baby shower, taken at a high ISO and a fast shutter speed:

Here’s another shot taken at a lower ISO (so it will be less grainy) with a slower shutter speed that let’s in more light. The food wasn’t moving anywhere, so I knew I didn’t need to worry about motion. To make it a little more interesting, I changed the angle a little as well.

When setting up a shot, consider the movement in the scene. When I shot the baby shower table, nothing in the scene was moving, so I was able to use a slower shutter speed to let more light into the shot. However, if AJ had been in the photo, it probably would have looked horrible because he is always moving.

See the example below. Because I used a slower shutter speed, AJ is a blur, but there’s something about the intentional blur that really conveys his energy in a way that a stop-action shot could not.

There are occasions where motion in your pictures is desirable. Say you want to take a photo of a waterfall or a bicycle or car zooming past….or an energetic 3 year old playing at the park. Those are the occasions where a slow shutter speed would be the way to go.

Where do you find the shutter speed?

If your camera has the ability to change settings, look for the Tv (time value) or S (shutter) mode (this is available on all SLRs and many point and shoot cameras). If your camera does not allow you to specify the shutter speed, look for the running man (sports mode) for a fast shutter speed to stop action. When you select shutter priority mode, you tell the camera which shutter speed to use, and the camera will chose the appropriate aperture for you. Here’s how it looks on a Canon Rebel:

Canon - Shutter Priority Mode

To see how to adjust the shutter speed on a Nikon, check out Manic Mother‘s post.

In summary, this is what you need to keep in mind:

* The longer the shutter stays open (“slow”), the more light that comes into the camera, and the more likely you will be to get blurred motion.

* The shorter the shutter stays open (“fast”), the less light that comes into the camera, and the more likely you will be able to freeze the action in your shot.

The Challenge:

Are you ready for this week’s challenge? This week’s challenge will be to use shutter priority (or sports mode) to capture an action shot. It can be any kind of action–you can freeze the action, or purposely blur it to show movement. Be creative and then show us your results next Tuesday, when we’ll post the MckLinky.

© 2010 – 2013, Lolli. All rights reserved.

About Lolli

Lolli has written 2619 posts on this blog.

I became a mom in 1996, and in 2005 I had my fifth. Yes, 5 kids. In 2007, this blog was born (my 6th baby that will never grow up) and I've been sharing recipes, photography tricks, parenting tips, and everything in between. You can also find me writing at Home Made Simple, Famous Footwear blog and P&G Everyday. *Add my posts to BlogLovin' or Feedly today!*

Comments

  1. This will be fun. I so wish the weather was nice, so we could go outdoors to practice!
    .-= Jenny´s last blog ..I Miss You, Ditto =-.

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    So do I… I miss going outside without all the winter gear!

    [Reply]

  2. Thanks so much for the tutorial and the tips in the above comments! I appreciate it and can’t wait to try this out this week!

    Love your pumpkin shot, by the way.
    .-= susana´s last blog ..Day 32–Hats =-.

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    Thanks! That pumpkin shot was a fun one to take (we had plenty of bad ones, though!).

    [Reply]

  3. Great tips! I am still trying to figure out what I’m doing with my Canon T1i. I’ve played with the shutter speed a bit without really knowing what I was doing. This made it way more easier to understand. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    I’m glad we made it easier to understand. THat is our hope!

    [Reply]

  4. Loving this tutorials. I heart your site, Lolli :)
    .-= GrammieMommy´s last blog ..Close Up Photography ~ Minus the Macro Lens =-.

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    Thanks for pointing me to your macro trick! That is so cool!

    [Reply]

  5. Looking forward to this challenge. Thanks for making it so easy to understand.
    .-= Amy Amy Bo Bamey´s last blog ..Confession Time =-.

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    You’re welcome! I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with for the challenge!

    [Reply]

  6. Good one.
    The trick is to get the right combination of shutter speed and aparture.
    .-= Joe Zachs´s last blog ..Mehendi better than tattoo ? =-.

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    Thanks! You’re exactly right. In the next few weeks we’ll be talking about aperture and the exposure triangle and how it all fits together.

    [Reply]

  7. I am loving this! I’m learning so much and it is making a difference. I cannot wait to try this at Upward basket ball games. My pics have been horrible on Auto! I know I’m going to need a fast shutter speed, however in the gym I don’t know how high to go because I might need some light. What would you recommend for this type of shot for the ISO and Shutter Speed? The next game is Saturday. I still have so much to learn. Would I shoot in P or in the “sports”? Can you help? Thanks so much!
    .-= Rhonda´s last blog ..The Simple Woman’s Daybook =-.

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    I would recommend that you at least start the game off in sports mode. Then you can watch what settings your camera is choosing automatically for the lighting and conditions and if you feel comfortable, you can switch over to Tv/S mode and adjust from there. Since every room is going to have different lighting, it’s hard to say which shutter speed is “right.”

    [Reply]

    Rhonda Reply:

    Thanks! I’ll just have to play around some more! I’ve been wanting to get a great shot to blow up to a poster size for my son’s room. Hoping this weekend I can get one! I appreciate your reply.

    [Reply]

  8. Thank you! I’m loving these!! My work computer is all funky, but I tried to McLinky on to last week’s ISO challenge, so here’s the link if you want to check it out:
    http://roryelizabeth.blogspot.com/2010/02/blogography.html

    Can’t wait to experiment with shutter speeds! :)
    .-= Rory´s last blog ..Blogography =-.

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    Rory–I’m so glad you’re following! If you ever want me to link up a post, you can always email it to me, too. I’m happy to do it!

    [Reply]

  9. I am learning so much from these post, thanks. Now I just have to try and put it into practice. :)
    .-= Jen @ buried with children´s last blog ..Am I Raising Monkeys or Kids? =-.

    [Reply]

    Lolli Reply:

    The practice is what makes all the difference. Good luck!

    [Reply]

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