Infuse life onto your photos, master shutter speed!
Updated: Apr 28
How to use low shutter speeds to create dynamic-looking stills.
Welcome! Today I want to discuss one of the three cornerstones of photography - #Shutterspeed. When I was first starting out as a photographer, I had a hard time understanding this concept and would often find it confusing and frustrating. By the end of this article, I hope to show you how to master this feature on your camera to create dynamic and visually stunning photos.
For the purpose of this article, we are going to ignore the other two cornerstones of the exposure triangle - ISO and F stop - and just focus on shutter speed. To begin, place your camera in shutter priority mode. In this setting, the camera will automatically adjust ISO and F stop while allowing you to focus on introducing motion blur to your pictures.
“The shutter speed controls the length of time that light hits the film or digital sensor.”
It goes without saying that the constant in life is motion. Yet in photography, we are creating and dealing with what we call the #decisivemoment. That moment is inherently a frozen slice of life, a #still #image. But with photography, we are able to create a sense of mood even with a subject that was moving across our lens. Through shutter speed, we can create an interpretation of that #motion to the point one can almost feel or imagine it. This is what makes shutter speed so powerful, its ability to interpret something that the medium itself can't capture. To me, this simple foreshadowing of life speaks volumes.
From technical to visceral
Shutter speed allows you to capture or freeze motion. Imagine your eyes blinking, the faster the eye blinks, the less light and less motion is introduced into your picture. The slower your eye blinks, the more light is allowed to reach your eye along with more motion in your picture. This is the simplest way I could describe a camera's #shutter. Its literal representation is in seconds using whole number seconds and factions of a second. Take a look at the diagram below:
1 second in #photography is a long time; so two seconds, three, and 4...feel like a lifetime. But don't allow this to stop you from using low shutter speeds because when used correctly the results are downright fun and rewarding.
You can create some really cool looks with a good understanding of shutter speed. Take a look at this image I created while at #GrandCentralstation in New York city. Everyone was moving about in a hurry to their destinations. The haste was palpable and I wanted to capture this and create something that represented the feeling in the air. I quickly brought my shutter speed to 1 second and fired off a test shot. This shot was intended to check the amount of motion. From a quick chimp, I notice I needed less motion so I turned my shutter speed to 1/6 of a second. In that second I noticed this lady and moved my camera in the direction she was walking a #clicked the shutter. Boom! I was excited to capture lightning in a bottle.
Another point worth noting is that low shutter speeds require a tripod or some type of stable surface. Unless you want to capture all the motion from your hands as well as the motion in your scene, is it making sense yet? Although with your newfound understanding of shutter speed you will be able to make the call on the moments you want a tripod or not. To avoid your pictures being captured with motion blur, use this rule of thumb: Your shutter speed should be 10 over your lens millimeter. For example:
Lens: 50mm shutter speed: 1/60 minimum.
Lens 24mm, Shutter speed: 1/30 minimum.
A student of life
“learn something new, show off your style, and tell your story.”
The fun in photography comes from shooting in full manual mode. That balancing act between the three corners of the exposure triangle (F.stop, ISO & shutter speed). It's a thrill to capture your subject in the way you had envisioned before clicking. Photography, when done right, is rewarding and thrilling. I imagine capturing the perfect moment sends a jolt of dopamine to your brain.
There are two other components that make up the #exposuretriangle and will inherently affect your picture creation. So be sure to visit as I will be going into those settings on subsequent blog posts. By the end of this 3 part series, you will be on your way to #creating images instead of merely taking pictures.
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As always keep shooting!