There is no escaping it. Movement is part of every setting, from birds flying above to the quick blink of an eye, a photographer will encounter action with every shot.
Even when doing portraits, the subject will not stay still in position for long. Because of this, photographers can fine-tune their images by controlling shutter speed.
Like blinds in front of a window, a camera shutter will open and close to allow light in. The camera shutter is located directly in front of the image sensor. This is why the button on which you click to take a picture is called the shutter-release button.
When the shutter-release button is pressed, the shutter will open to permit passage of light and then immediately close when the image sensor has collected enough. Therefore, shutter speed is how quickly the shutter will open and close.
Depending what kind of photograph you are trying to capture, you can either freeze a moving subject with a fast shutter speed or create a motion blur with a slow shutter speed. Both techniques can be used creatively to produce lively images, giving the viewer an idea of action taking place.
How to use Shutter Speed.
Shutter speed can be controlled in either Manual or Shutter Speed priority mode. As a beginner, it is best to stick with Shutter Speed priority because you won’t have to worry about adjusting Aperture at the same time. Shutter speed is typically measured in whole numbers.
The higher the numbers go, the faster the shutter speed. This is because the whole numbers actually represent a fraction of a second. If the camera displays the number 250, this means that the shutter will take 1/250th of a second to open and close.
Fast Shutter Speed.
In action shots, especially photographing sports, it can be beneficial to use a fast shutter speed. The action will be captured and frozen in place. Typically, a fast shutter speed is considered any number over 1/500th of a second.
Each camera is different, but the greater the shutter speed a camera can handle means a larger variety of creative ways to stop moments in time. However, there is one downfall to a quick shutter speed. The quicker the shutter opens and closes, the less light is captured by the sensor.
To make up for this, either increase the ISO number or adjust for a larger aperture with a lower f-stop.
Slow Shutter Speed.
Another option, and also commonly used, is slowing shutter speed down. What you need to remember with slow shutter speeds is that whatever is already in motion will be blurred and anything that is stationary will remain in focus.
Even if something is stationary, your hand is a moving object and if your hand is unsteady while taking the picture, the still subject may still come out blurred. To prevent this, use a tri-pod or place your camera on a stable, flat surface.
Photographers have a lot of fun with slow shutter speeds. They can capture the light path of traffic at night, make waterfalls appear to be moving and the best yet, show the movement of stars. Think of other unique ways you can show movement in a two-dimensional image.