Water pouring into goblet

Stop motion

When a fast shutter speed (1/1000th sec. or less) is combined with a high-speed flash, nearly any type of motion can be stopped. This technique is useful when you want to convey a frozen moment in time, or capture a motion that occurs too quickly to analyze with the naked eye.

Slow shutter effects

Using a long shutter speed (typically 1 sec. or more) can be a powerful tool for conveying motion. This technique can be used to create streaked headlights, a silky looking mountain stream, or star trails across the sky. However, you will have to mount your camera on a tripod in order to keep stationary objects sharp.


When you want isolate a moving subject from its background, panning is the way to go. This technique works best with a medium shutter speed (1/125th to 1/200th sec.), though a higher speed may be necessary if the subject is close to the camera. If you set your camera to shutter-priority mode, it will automatically adjust the aperture to create a balanced exposure. After choosing your desired shutter speed, simply take the photo while following your subject's motion through the viewfinder. Experiment with various shutter speeds to find what works best.

The table on the right lists common shutter speeds and their usages (Information based on How to capture movement with shutter speed, by Tim McKenna).

Next: Learn about color.