Digital Photography: Capturing and Conveying Motion

Time to come back to one of the three most basic parts of using a D-SLR or a point and shoot camera.  But first, a refresher on how to take the right picture with the most basic formula of phtoography, if you know it, feel free to sing along…

Shutter speed x aperture x ISO = Your magic photo

If any of these elements is increased, one or both of the others must be decreased if you wish to obtain the “perfect” exposure.

Let’s take a look at shutter speed for a minute.  Shutter speed is measured in fractions which can be confusing for most people, (me).

The bigger the number on bottom, the faster the shutter speed.  When you see a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second, or a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second, think to yourself. which number has the biggest number on bottom?  1/500th of a second.  So, if you increase your shutter speed to 1/500th of a second, you should adjust your aperature and ISO to compensate for the change.  (Hint:  The faster the shutter opens and closes, the less light is allowed into the camera, so you should adjust one or both of the other parts to let more light in).

Digital Photography Geese Takeoff

Speeding up your shutter speed is a great way to avoid “camera shake” that jittery, fidgety motion in your camera when everything comes out blurry.

Can you think of a time when you want to slow down your shutter speed?

If you answered to convey motion, you’re right on target.  In yesterday’s post, the bottom image shows a set of Voladores swinging as a blur.  Ordinarily, you don’t want too many blurry images in your pictures, but if you want to show that something is moving, blur is a really good way to accomplish this.


Digital Photography Fliers On Approach


Rules of thumb are critical, so here’s one.  If you’re shooting with a lens that is 70 mm ( a basic zoom/telephoto lens that isn’t extended), slap a one in front of it. You don’t want to use a shutter speed that’s slower than 1/70th of a second without a tripod or some anti-shake capability turned on in your camera. So, 1/60th of a second, 1/50th of a second, or even 1/25th of a second would generally be too slow of a shutter speed to hand-hold your camera because of the amount of camera shake and blur.


Digital Photography Abrams Falls 2

Slowing down the shutter speed can also present some other interesting challenges, but I’ll get into that in my next post.


Digital Photography Basics, Posts with my pictures in them, Travel and Photography Samples , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Kevin Bettencourt

    You always explain digital photography basics with such clarity. No Blur that is. Knowing exact aperture settings where hand holding is a no no is priceless for doing motion photography.

    Las Vegas Air Conditioning Service & Repairs

  2. I had no idea there was so much involved in motion and photographs. I have seen quite a few articles of the tricks you can play with shutter speeds and how you can really increase the effects on a picture.

    AllAces Plumbing Las Vegas and Pahrump

  3. Dewayne, do you find that shutter speed settings are a common mistake for people getting into photograhy?
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    How to sell with persuasive selling skills
    Now go implement!

    • Hey Scott, I’m not sure about most people, but learning about shutter speed was one of the first mistakes I made with my new digital camera. I was shooting at a rodeo, handholding the camera and couldn’t figure out whjy all of my pictures were coming out blurry. But, I caught on and I got some really interesting results as well.

      Why I Enjoy Making Mistakes

  4. More good advice from someone who knows his stuff . My digital camera is very basic , goes with my brain .

    • The camera being basic, maybe. As far as anyone on the planet having a basic brain… I believe that about as much as I beleive in unicorns. Thanks, John.