Ideas for using shutter speed

All cameras have the same basic settings, ISO sensitivity, shutter speed , aperture, white balance, and focus. Learning to play with these settings will be one of the reasons that will make the difference between your photos and those of others. You must understand how they work, how they affect the image and how to adjust them for each situation, for this you can visit the article 10 exercises in digital photography beforehand .

I am going to show you several photographs that I have taken using different shutter speed settings , I invite you to try them or modify the technique to your liking, then do not forget to share the result using the contact forms or comments, I would love to see them.

Don’t be afraid to try and fail, the great thing about digital photography is that you can try endlessly.

Medium shutter speed 

The spark from a lighter turns on and off in much less than 1 second, so it will force us to use a very fast shutter speed , maybe 1/1000 or so. We could take the picture with those settings without any more problems than hitting the correct synchronization of the shutter with the spark, but what if you want to go further and remove the entire ignition process from the flame? We need a shutter speedintermediate, not too fast to capture just the spark, not too slow to capture a single fully lit flame. So for this photograph I used a speed of 1/200 sec (it took me many tries to get it but in the end it came out) to capture the trail of the flame igniting and sparks that had not yet been consumed.

High speed photography

This type of photography is often used in situations where the subject is moving rapidly, such as the flapping of a bird or drops of water. We will need a scene in which the ambient light is not enough and it is necessary to include flashes. The flash light is always emitted with the same intensity, but we can vary the duration. The lower the power of the flash, the more we will freeze the movement , that is, the light will be on for much less time so that small period of time will be the one that is captured in the photograph. So that we can see the difference with the shutter, the flash light reaches a speed of 1/200 to 1/50000 of a second depending on the model we choose.

In this example I used a shutter speed of 1/200 and a low power for the flash because I needed speed, I didn’t want a trail behind the drop, I wanted the drop suspended in the air.

In case you still resist, I give you another example: imagine that you are with another person in a completely dark room. You have your eyes open, which act as a shutter and your friend is the flash, he decides how long the light will turn on and when. If your friend turns on the light for half a second, that half second is the only thing you will remember about the room, which in this case your memory will be the photograph even if you have been 4 seconds with your eyes open. That is the mission of the flash in this type of photography.

Long exposure photography

One of the most spectacular photography modalities, with it we can freeze time lapses from a few seconds to hours. It consists of using a very long shutter speed , while producing what we want to capture, for example, the spinning of steel wool burning and expelling sparks.

For this photograph I selected the Bulb mode , (the shutter remains open while we press the shutter button and when the action ends we release it, closing it) while a friend rotated the steel wool, creating this spectacular effect. In the background, to the right of the door character, there is another person activating the flash at my command, thus illuminating the back wall, achieving the silhouette of the subject in the hat. When I saw that the steel wool was fading, I released the trigger, thus ending the capture.

It is important that the steel wool stay lit and following the same path if you want to achieve a circle of fire. Although you can always play with your creativity.

I prepared a post about steel wool and its use in long exposure photography .

Night photography

Although it is also long exposure, it is still another situation where you can use the shutter speed . As an advice, I will tell you not to open the shutter for more than 30 seconds when stars appear if you do not want them to come out as shaky or as traces.

For this photograph, I had to use a flashlight to illuminate the scene, as it allowed me to be more selective and not illuminate the girl’s body. While the shutter was kept open, I “painted” the road and its sides with light.

Photograph the movement

One second was enough to capture the movement of this cornfield. If the light does not allow you to open the shutter that long on a sunny day, close the diaphragm to the maximum and lower the ISO to the minimum, if you still have problems, a neutral density filter will solve the image.

Amusement parks are a good place to practice long exposure photography. With a little less than a second I managed to capture the movement of the attraction, while I moved my hand slightly following the boy. By doing this we can freeze the part of the photograph that we follow, while the rest of the image appears in motion.

Action photography

As Buddy raced up the water dramatically, I set the camera to a shutter speed of 1/800 to capture his expression in midair and the droplets still suspended. In these situations we will use high speeds to freeze the action without trails, with the burst mode selected, while we follow the subject so as not to lose focus or we will use the AI ​​SERVO mode, in which the camera while pressing the shutter button halfway, will focus the moving point that we have marked.

As you can see, the shutter speed is an adjustment that allows us many combinations and each one gives completely different results. I hope that it has been clear or given you some idea on how to use it in your next photographs.