How Shutter Speed Determines the Look of Your Photos

For photographers, shutter speeds can mean everything. The advent of digital photography has made it easier to just leave the settings to the camera to get a clear and perfect shot. However, it pays to learn more about how your camera works, especially if it allows you the option to go full manual. Knowing how to set your shutter speed, for example, opens your photography to many creative applications. If you’re just getting started with photography, learning the technical side of things may seem daunting at first. But if you break it down to the essential concepts, such as finding out how shutter speeds work, it will be easier for you to apply them when you practice later on.

The video below by Allversity is a great resource for learning how different shutter speeds affect your photo, which is important to know whether you’re shooting with a film or digital camera:

To put it simply, shutter speed refers to how long you keep your camera’s shutter open to let light in when you take a photo. The higher the number on your camera’s setting, the faster the shutter opens and closes. The faster the shutter speed, therefore, the quicker your exposure and the faster your camera is able to capture motion. Most digital cameras today can automatically set very fast shutter speeds to allow you to capture very fast movements. But if you’d like to create artistic motion blurs, light trails, and long exposures, you have to know how to take advantage of slow shutter speeds. Admittedly, the techniques for both ends of the shutter speed spectrum take a lot practice.

The video above was also very helpful in giving an idea about the shutter speeds you can experiment with if you’re just starting to shoot manual. Use 1/60 when practicing with still life photos or portraits, and 1/100 to 1/125 for daily shots. A good all-around shutter speed is 1/250, which you’ll commonly find in some basic point and shoot cameras. For motion shots, shutter speeds of at least 1/500 would do, with 1/1000 for really fast subjects like athletes or race cars.

Once you’ve gotten used to these shutter speeds, you may want to move on to more advanced techniques, such as capturing flowing water and light trails for your street photography using slower shutter speeds. Or, if you want the more technical stuff, learn the reciprocal rule of shutter speeds and how you can work with it in flash photography.

Screenshots taken from the video