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Photography 101 Shooting in Manual: Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is one of the most important aspects of the exposure triangle. In this intro to shooting in manual mode, today we are discussing SHUTTER SPEED and how it affects exposure.

What is shutter speed? How do you use shutter speed to capture motion?

Taken with Canon 7D and Tamron 28-75 2.8 lens

Settings:  Aperture f/3.2 Shutter Speed 1/1600 ISO 100

First, let’s talk about Shutter Speed.

What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed is one of the most important variables in the exposure triangle.

Shutter Speed is the amount of time that your shutter remains open. Yesterday, I told you that you decide how long you want to let light inside of your camera by adjusting your shutter speed. Your shutter speed.


A long shutter speed ( also called a slow/low shutter speed)=more light.

A short shutter speed( also called a fast/high shutter speed) = less light.

How is Shutter Speed Measured?

The numbers that tell how slow/long or how fast/short your shutter speed are measured in seconds or fractions of seconds such as the 1/1600 in the photo above.  So, the bigger the denominator( number on the bottom) the faster the shutter  speed. So a 1/1600 is faster is than 1/60. Shutter speeds that are full seconds long are usually shown as 1( 1 second) or 60 ( meaning 60 seconds).


Do you want to freeze or show motion?

One of the  most important questions to ask yourself when photographing subjects that move is: do you want to freeze the movement or show the movement?

A fast shutter speed freezes the motion of a moving subject while a slow shutter speed blurs the motion of a moving subject.

choosing the right Shutter Speed is useful when photographing children

Taken with Canon 6D and Canon 35mm 2.0 lens

Settings: Aperture: f/3.5 Shutter Speed 1/1250 ISO 800

The majority of the time, you want to freeze motion because when you take a photo, you want your photos to be sharp and in focus.  If your subject is not sharp and in focus, it can look..a hot mess! So, your goal should be to shoot with a shutter speed that is fast enough to prevent any motion of your subject.


Recording motion is done when you correct the right shutter speed.

Taken with Canon 6D and  Tamron 24-70 2.8 lens

Settings: aperture: f/4.0 Shutter Speed: 1/20 ISO 250

If you do want to imply motion, it looks best if your subject appears as though it is in motion and everything around it is in focus. Like the photo above.

When trying this, remember it is very unpredictable! I took A LOT of photos of the cabs before I got this one that looked like what I was going for.

But look at my settings: I knew I wanted to show the motion, so I lowered my shutter speed to 1/20.( meaning my shutter was open for 20 seconds)  But keeping in mind the exposure triangle: I then had to adjust the rest of my settings so that I would get a properly exposed image. So I had to lower my ISO to 250( making my sensor less sensitive to light) and I increased my aperture to 4.0( allowing more light to hit my sensor) so that my shutter could stay open longer increasing the chance of capture the movement of the cab.

Well, that’s all for today! Hope you are not on information overload!!

To help you out, I’ve created a cheat sheet for shutter speed! Just click here for your Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet or click the photo below to download immediately so you can have it in your phone or print out!Shutter Speed Cheat SheetSee you tomorrow when we discuss ISO!

If you want to start at the beginning of this series,  check out the first post below!

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Do you have a awesome camera that is stuck in auto mode because you don't know how to use it? It is time to take your camera off of auto and learn to shoot in manual mode! This series will break down the how and the why of shooting in manual mode and get you off auto and on to beautiful photos!
Photography 101: Shoot in Manual Mode
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Learning to shoot in manual shouldn't be hard! Today we are talking about mastering ISO and why high ISOs are not always a bad thing.
Photography 101 Shoot in Manual 101: ISO
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