For the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing all about my system for shooting on manual mode. We’ve learned all about aperture, and how I use it to achieve my distinct style of shooting (read here). I also shared more about ISO and how to set it to maintain the highest level of quality in the image (read here). The final part of the manual mode triangle is shutter speed, and that’s what today’s post is all about!
As you probably could have guessed, this is the last thing that I set when shooting on manual. If you remember, in most situations I first start with aperture, then ISO. The shutter speed is the main part of manual that I use to control the exposure. Shutter speed can range from lower than 1/100 to 1/4000 second. The slower the shutter speed, the more light that is let into the camera. Typically I use slower shutter speeds when I am shooting inside, or if there isn’t very much natural light available.
The main thing that is really important to keep in mind when working with shutter speed is this: shutter speed stops any motion in camera. However, the lower the shutter speed, the less effective it will be at doing so. That’s why, when you are shooting an active little kiddo at a family session, the shutter speed needs to be much higher than it would if you were shooting a traditional wedding portrait. This is because the motion in the first images would cause it to be blurry, and you would loose any detail that was once in the image.
My rule of thumb for setting shutter speed is to set it at least double the focal length of the lens you are using. For example, if I had a 50 mm lens, then I would almost never set the lens below 1/100 second. This will account for any natural camera shake that you have when taking the picture. If I am using my 105mm macro lens for a ring shot, then I would probably not go below 1/250 second, because 1) that lens is heavy! and 2) even if my hand is shaking, the higher shutter speed will still capture the ring without motion blur.
When you think about all of the different components of manual mode, I personally think that shutter speed is the easiest to understand. The main thing to keep in mind not have it too low to prevent motion blur. That isn’t too hard, is it??
Happy snapping, friends!