At 1/200 sec the shutter speed was too slow to freeze the Egret in flight

Photography Tutorial: Shutter Speed.

This is part one of a series of short non technical photography tutorials for beginner photographers.

Shutter speed is one of the elements that go together to form your exposure and knowing how and why to use it and what speed you should select in different situations will help you get the the correct exposure for any given situation. The other elements that consist of your camera’s exposure we will discuss in further tutorials.

The correct shutter speed will help reduce motion blur and camera shake in most situations and learning how to correctly use your shutter speed will make it easier to obtain the images you so badly want.

Slow Shutter Speed:

Why would you use it?
A slow shutter speed increases the amount of time your shutter is open and therefore exposes your camera’s sensor to the available light for a longer period of time, which is useful in low light or darker situations, the images below show photos of the same subject taken at a slow and fast shutter speed to dramatically demonstrate the differences shutter speed can make, all other settings on the camera were identical in both shots.

In some situations when using very slow shutter speeds you may need to use a tripod to make sure you do not introduce camera shake to your image. It pays to practice using various shutter speeds while hand holding the camera to find out at what shutter speeds you will need to use the tripod.

Fast Shutter Speed:

Why would you use it?
A fast shutter speed will freeze motion and help prevent camera shake. A fast shutter speed is particularly useful when taking action, sports and wildlife shots such as birds in flight etc. If the shutter speed is too slow when taking images of fast moving subjects then you will get motion blur as you can see by the images below.

Using shutter speed for artistic purposes:

A lot of people are aware that shutter speed can be used to freeze motion however in some instances you may want to show motion to add action to the image, for example the image below shows that by setting the shutter speed to 1/30 of a second it allowed me to show the water in motion and add movement to the image.

Water in motion
Water in motion
Graph showing effects of shutter speed
Graph showing effects of shutter speed

Part Two in the series will be Using Aperture Setting.

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