For any serious photographer, thorough knowledge about the ‘exposure triangle’ is necessary to correctly expose shots for the desired results. What is the ‘exposure triangle, you ask? It’s simple really. The shutter speed, the aperture, and the ISO setting together constitute the exposure triangle. Today we shall be discussing the required shutter speeds that you should use in various situations.
Though it is called shutter ‘speed’, it really is a measure of time; the time during which the shutter remains open and light hits the sensor. It is measured in seconds or rather, fractions of a second (for e.g. 1/60 or 1/100). So here we go.
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To freeze movement while photographing, regular, slow moving subjects, it is best to use a shutter speed of 1/60 or more. Anything below that will record the movement and result in blurred images. To capture moving people, a shutter speed of 1/100 is considered adequate.
Photography enthusiasts will tell you, that the focal length you shoot at will eventually decide what shutter speed you must use. A rule of thumb is to use a shutter speed such that the denominator in the fraction is greater than or equal to the focal length you’re using. For instance, if you are shooting at 50mm, it is best to have the shutter speed set at 1/50 or faster. Why? Simply because longer focal lengths result in more prominent camera shake and the shutter speed in these cases must be faster to reduce camera blur.
In order to capture razor sharp images of fast moving objects, a very high shutter speed is necessary. To completely freeze action in sports, or take pictures of animals or birds in action, a shutter speed of 1/1000 or more may be required. The exact number really depends on the speed with which the subject is moving. The faster the movement, the greater the shutter speed required.
Some really beautiful photos can be captured by using shutter speeds slower than 1/10, or even a second or more. These still images capture and reproduce subject movement with very satisfying results. To feel the zooming in of a car or the flow of water in a waterfall by looking at a still image is engaging. A tripod is a must in these situations to reduce camera shake due to the long exposures. In extremely low-light conditions, shutter speeds of 2 or more seconds can be used to absorb all the available light and produce a well exposed image.
We can go on stating rule after rule of photography and shutter speed. But the beauty of this particular art is that it lets you experiment with freedom. The best way to learn what shutter speed you must use is to keep these tips in mind and shoot your images freely. Let go of all rigidity! Experiment with different speeds in different conditions and fine tune the values until you feel a particular value gives you great results. Time to control that speed!