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Controlling time- Shutter Speed

It’s a new month. This year seems to have flown by so quick; I wish could slow things down a little bit. Fortunately or unfortunately, none of us have the ability to control time.


What we can control, is time in photography. We looked briefly at shutter speeds last month and now we’re going to take a closer look at shutter speeds and a few scenarios where you might need to manipulate the speed of your cameras shutter.


As you know by now, in very simple terms the shutter speed is a measure of how fast or slow the lens opens and closes. This is important in a few scenarios. (If you didn’t know this, see the “Know your body” series of posts.)


The first is in shooting moving subjects.

When a person or object is moving, you generally need a fast enough shutter speed to freeze their movement.

If it is not fast enough, you get what is called motion blur and depending on how fast they are moving your entire image can end up being unrecogniseable.


To capture an image of a person standing still doesn’t require a fast shutter speed. As long as you can keep the camera steady you could take the picture with an extremely slow shutter speed. If you wanted to capture a person walking, you would have to increase the shutter speed. To capture someone running, you would need an even faster shutter speed and to even attempt to capture a moving F-1 car would require a shutter speed much faster.


If the person or object you’re trying to photograph is blurry try increasing your shutter speed.


The other scenario you might want to increase or decrease your shutter speed is when you are trying to control the amount of light using shutter speed.

If you are photographing a scene at night, there is generally not usually enough light and in order to get the amount of light needed to properly expose the image you might have to leave your shutter open longer.

The reverse would work when shooting in the daytime and the light levels are extremely high. If there is too much light, you increase the shutter speed and then the shutter opens and closes so fast that it reduces the amount of light getting to the cameras sensor.


I want to continue to impress on you the importance of trying out what we go through on here. As well as trying out these things, DO NOT be afraid to experiment with your camera. These are just guidelines and once you understand how the camera works you can begin to create more interesting images by manipulating the camera’s functions and settings.

For example, you might actually want to have some blur in the image and not something totally sharp. It’s all up to you.

Let your imagination be your only limiting factor.


The image below was shot with 2 Strobes. A beauty dish to camera right as the main light and a gridded light on the background.
Camera settings at ISO 100, f8 and shutter speed at 1/125.


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