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What is Shutter Speed? Some experiments with capturing and freezing motion.

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

Following on from my last post, a second aspect of my new learning was what to do with shutter speeds and how this knowledge might enhance my photography. My only initial knowledge was that the shutter closes for a period of time once the shutter button is pressed and that the length of time for which the shutter is closed can be varied. I also knew that we were talking fractions of seconds. What I didn’t know was the range of shutter speeds available and what effect a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ shutter speed would give. Once again, out with the camera for some experimentation.

There was a fairly small amount of movement of the water over stones in these images, but the setting did allow me to get close enough to experiment with shutter speeds.

My first attempts were not so good, although I do see a difference in the images due to the variation in shutter speeds. In the first two photographs the bubbles are obvious where motion has been frozen, while in the third the silky look means that motion is captured to some extent. I made another attempt, this time with slightly better results.

The motion of the waterfall is frozen in this image.

This image gives a sense of the movement of the water.

Freezing motion seemed to be a bit more intuitive and yielded better results than conveying a sense of motion. I decided to have a go at capturing the motion of vehicles as they passed on the road. I enjoyed the results as in these photos there is a definite sense of motion going on.

In each of these attempts I was using shutter priority mode on my camera, where I changed the shutter speed and allowed the camera to determine the aperture and ISO. I decided to have a go with capturing motion using fully manual mode for the next image, below.

I am happy that there is a sense of movement in the van, while the background and foreground are still fairly sharp.

Both aperture priority mode and shutter priority mode enable us to add variety to our images and become more creative with our compositions. They are well worth learning and using to enhance your photographs.


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