carolee's photo tip of the week: shutter speed

what is shutter speed? and what role does it play when taking a photograph? there are various components necessary to take a good photo and the shutter speed is one of the main ones. it's the amount of time that the shutter stays open, exposing the sensor and capturing your image. understanding the flexibility of your shutter and how it relates to your aperture and iso will allow you to do some pretty amazing things with your camera. often, while teaching, my students say "my camera won't do this or won't do that." in reality it isn't the cameras at fault, it's the person using the camera who doesn't know all of the awesome things that it is capable of. the more you know about these camera controls, the more creative control you will have over your images.

so what does shutter speed do?

shutter speed captures motion. this means that it can either stop the motion completely OR show the movement of an image. just a side note: there is a difference between capturing motion and camera shake. camera shake happens when you're hand-holding your camera, your shutter speed is too slow, and you move ever so slightly. camera shake can be fixed by a tripod or some other stationary device.

if you've been struggling to take successful photos of your super active children, or indoor photos of your favorite basketball team, or other photos where there's a lot of action- your shutter speed is what you'll want to pay the most attention to!

here are some recommended shutter speeds for various activities:

freezing motion:
children: 1/250 or faster
sporting events: 1/500 or faster
moving water/water-falls: 1/1000 or faster (usually faster if possible)
birds in flight: 1/1000 or faster

capturing motion:
amusement park rides: 1 second, plus or minus
moving water: 4 or more seconds (longer exposures of moving water give it a glassy appearance. it's super cool!)
moving cars at night: 8-10 seconds
night photography: 1 or more seconds

now challenge yourself! go out and shoot something with a specific shutter speed. find things that move and see how you do! and most of all, have fun!

falling water, f/2.8, 70mm, 1/1000

playing ball, f/2.8, 80mm, 1/500