shutter speed cheat sheet photography

How Shutter Speed work in photography

Basics of Photography

Part 2 continuing from previous post about aperture we will discuss Shutter speed and capturing motion.Ever wondered how you can capture the flow of water whether that means freezing the flow or capturing the motion blur and making the water seem smooth. All this can be done if you understand how to use speed of the shutter in your camera.

Shutter Speed cheat sheet courtesy
Above image is a courtesy
Shutter Speed is the amount of time the sensor or film of the camera is exposed to light. If the shutter speed is high for eg. 1/1000th it means the light has very less time to enter the lens. This allows to freeze the moment and capture the action. If the shutter speed is slow like 1/15th or 1 second it means more light can enter and the motion can be blurred. Every one of us want to capture kids or birds that are moving fast, for scenario like this we should use fast shutter higher than the focal length of the lens. For scenarios where we want to show intention blur in motion like capturing a racing car or a person running then we need to slow the shutter speed. Best examples of slow shutter are smooth waterfalls and light trails.

Image with fast shutter

Freezing the Water Flow Niagara

Freezing the Water Flow Niagara

As you can see the above image is shot with fast shutter for 1/500th of second and has freezed the flow of water.

Image with slow shutter

Smooth White Water Walk Niagara Slow Shutter Speed

White Water Walk Niagara Slow Shutter

This image has a slow shutter of 1/15th of second and as you can see the motion of the water is blurred and looks smooth.

To practice shutter speed settings at home try starting your tap and let the water flow. Put your camera in shutter priority mode (S setting for Nikon DSLR and TV for canons) then set the speed to a higher value like 1/500th of second. Now capture the water flowing from the tap. The result would be a image that has frozen the water flowing from the tap. Next change the speed to a slower value like 1/30th of second or lower and check the difference. You will notice that the image with slower speed shows water as a smooth stream.

For more tutorials about Shutter speed and its basics check the following references.

Shutter Speed Basics Nikon USA Website


Understanding Shutter speed Website


Introduction to Shutter Speed from Website

Stay Tuned for Basics of Photography Part 3 Exposure

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