Different Shutter Speeds for Different Situations

445466 MLIn this article we shall be discussing the use of different shutter speeds in different kinds of situations. Before we elaborate on that, let’s define what shutter speed is. Shutter speed determines the amount of time the shutter of the camera remains open to expose the image sensor to the light passing through the lens. Shutter speed can be adjusted to achieve different effects, according to what the photographer desires. There are two major things that the shutter speed affects in a picture.
  • Exposure
  • Motion


As the classification of shutter speed defines the time for sensor exposure, it should be fairly clear that slow shutter speed helps achieve higher brightness in the picture in comparison to a faster shutter speed. For example, let’s assume a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second. Keeping all the other aspects of exposure constant, if the shutter speed  is increased to 1/125 of a second, the picture gets darker than before. If however, the shutter speed is decreased to 1/30 of a second, it will increase the brightness of the image. Slower shutter speeds are required in low light conditions such as night photography. Faster shutter speeds are recommended when you are shooting in very bright light conditions.

yay 6857094 digitalFaster shutter speed (above)
yay 9133760 digitalSlower shutter speed used to create circular blurred effect (above)


Apart from brightness, shutter speed is used to affect motion in the picture. It is this aspect of shutter speed that can be used to achieve many artistic effects.

Fast Shutter Speeds

Have you seen those amazing pictures where action taking place is frozen in time? Fast shutter speeds can be used to stop motion and avoid motion blur. When shooting moving objects, the correct shutter speed depends upon how fast the object is moving and how far away the object is from the camera. As a general rule, for instance, I recommend a minimum shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second for capturing birds in flight without panning. A minimum shutter speed of 1/60 of a second is recommend for capturing people moving at a normal pace without any motion blur. You might want to Increase the shutter speed to 1/250 of a second to capture running children. Remember these recommendations are just a starting point. If you’re experiencing motion blur, increase the shutter speed.

Slow Shutter Speeds

Slow shutter speeds can be used for stunning effects in your photos. Slow shutter speeds can give you those “cotton candy” effects in moving water, light painting effects, automobile light trails and starlight trails. A shutter speed of one second or more is recommended to get beautiful, smooth effects with moving water. Try starting with a shutter speed of 30 seconds for great light painting photos from car lights. Start trails may require exposure times of 5 minutes or longer, which will generally require using the “B” shutter setting and a timer.

file5961255592727Source: Jusben
yay 15906260 digital

Now that you know the basics of how you can use shutter speed for various effects, don’t limit yourself to these examples. Experiment and learn. You’ll have some fun and probably create some amazing images, too!