Tips for Using Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is responsible for creating dramatic effects in photography by slowing down the subject and is also responsible for the amount of light in your image. A very important feature in your camera, learning how to use the shutter speed and what it can do for your images will certainly upgrade your photography skills.

What is Shutter Speed?

When you press the shoot button, you essentially expose your film to light in which the film then records the image. So by pressing shoot, you are essentially releasing the shutter, which is what hides the light from the film when it isn’t open.

The speed of your camera’s shutter directly pertains to the speed at which it lets light into your camera to record on the film. Understanding how this works will help you to adjust how much or how little light you let in which can either cause an image to be too bright or dark.

Learning to use and adjust your shutter speed like a pro will help you to freeze time or alternatively capture great movement and give your image an extra splash of magic.

Here’s how!

Fast and Slow Shutter Speeds

The faster the shutter speed, the less light you let in and the more you freeze time. On the other hand, longer shutter speed will allow more light to come in, recording more movement. Both are great, it’s more about knowing when and how to use them.

Say for example you are shooting someone jumping into a pool of water. You can record every little detail of the water particles bouncing in the air with a faster shutter speed of around 1/3000 sec. 

A longer shutter speed, say 1/2 sec can capture the curvature of a wave in the ocean before it breaks. More light entering the lens allows for greater capture of movement.


Being that shutter speed is directly responsible for allowing light to enter the lens, exposure of light must be taken into consideration when photographing your subject. Too much on an already bright day will result in an overly bright image drowning out key details in the image.

On the flip side, dark locations or dark times of the day such as night time will require the opposite. Low-light in these scenarios will not capture enough details. Unless that is the end result you’re looking for, considering the exposure and light let in by the shutter will result in a better image. 

However, we can’t discuss exposure without mentioning two other very important settings on your camera that can influence light: aperture and ISO.

  • Aperature is essentially the hole in which light enters the lens, and adjusting the aperture size will affect the amount of light entering the lens. It can also affect the width of the subject you’re capturing that is within focus and which appears sharper in the image.
  • ISO can affect the brightness of your image. It is measured in numbers, and the higher the number, the more brightness your image is subjected to. Adjust accordingly. A higher ISO can result in higher image noise.

Play with the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO for better lighting conditions for your image. 

Camera Blur and Shutter Speed

A slower shutter speed resulting in more movement can achieve an intentional blur creating really great effects. As an example, you could capture someone riding a skateboard at the exact time they jump and flip the board. This image would clearly capture the board rotating whilst blurring the background; shifting the viewer’s focus entirely on the action.

There are a couple of quick fixes for images that appear blurry when this isn’t the desired effect you are going for. Specifically for when you are using faster shutter speeds. 

An unintentional camera blur, one that does not achieve the desired effect, could be attributed to natural movement in your hands or breath. Try taking shots in between breath for a clearer picture or use a tripod instead.

Our tips for using shutter speed will help you to capture your vision in an image with just the right amount of light required to achieve the desired result. Like with anything else photography related, it takes a lot of trial and error to get the desired result. We don’t just mean over time, each individual shoot will require some testing of the settings on your camera to get the desired image.

Have we missed one of your favorite tips? Let us know below!


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