We just spent some serious time on depth of field, and how you use depth of field in your creative photography.  So many photographers use depth of field for many things.  

Now, we are going to cover how to use shutter speeds for your creative ideas.  Some photographers use shutter speeds as their main source of creative photography, not paying much attention to what the depth of field does in their photos.  So, this is always a “catch 22” in photography.  

Let’s get into the mechanics first of what happens when you control your shutter speeds:

  • Fast shutter speeds, 1/500th of a second and faster, will stop action, and often “freeze” the action of your subjects.
  • Slow shutter speeds, 1/60th of a second and slower, will blur the motion of your subject.

Let’s look at the reason why you would want to do both:



Sports photography is one of the main uses of fast shutter speeds:

NIKON D750 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/1250, f/3.2

Notice the fast shutter speed used, just to get the golfer used, and the f-stop:  1/1250 of a second.  And the f-stop is at f3.2.  Did you notice that the background of the subject is blurred out.  That is because the depth of field is so narrow (see previous blogs on depth of field).  And see how the fast shutter speed, stopped the action.

NIKON D750 @ 200mm, ISO 2000, 1/1000, f/2.8

Here again, this one is even harder because this is shot inside, but, it is well lit.  Shutter speed is at 1/1000 of a second.  The f-stop at f2.8.  To help out so he could get that kind of setting, notice that the ISO was set at 2000.  Most likely because the photographer was inside a building and didn’t have the bright sunlight, but did this to help him get the shutter speed he wanted to use.

NIKON D750 @ 200mm, ISO 400, 1/1600, f/2.8

One more:  shutter speed at 1/1600 of a second,  and the f-stop at f2.8 (blurs the background), and the ISO setting is somewhat normal at 400.  Notice on all of these action photos there is just no blur at all in these action photos.



Many years ago, I worked as a store manager in a photo store, and was able to work with many types of photography.  I got to know photography so well, you could probably ask me any question of how to do certain photography, and I could tell you exactly how to accomplish the type of photos you wanted to achieve. One day, a man walked into my store, and he said he just retired from working as a forest ranger, and now wanted to spend most of his time taking pictures of the natural beauty in the mountains that he was able to work in, but, never could because he was always on duty.  So, with that, we made sure he had all the right equipment and sent him on his way.  Then he came back after a few hikes, and said he wanted to make his streams and rivers look more soft and blurry, or make the water more “dreamy”.  And asked how to do that in the middle of the day.  So, I sold him a good tripod, showed him how to use slower shutter speeds, neutral density filters, and he became the artist he wanted to be.   He moved away to another state later in life, passed away and I never did get a hold of his photos.  But,  I saw his photos that he was taking and they were definitely worthy of any exhibit anywhere, and he was selling some of his photos in the range of $250 to $1000 per picture the last time I saw him.  These types of photos are what people love to look at.  They make scenery look more beautiful than ever.  So, with that, I am going to present to you, a collection of great photos I have seen recently of “long exposure photography” that will make you just want to go out and do it yourself, and add it to your collection as well.  I hope more than anything, you will be inspired to try it yourself.

long 1
Photo by Duarte Sol Photography;  Not sure exactly of exposure settings, but, my guess is that this is around 1 second, ISO 100, and the F-stop at F-16

As mentioned in a previous blog, this type of exposure cannot be done successfully without one piece of valuable equipment:  THE TRIPOD.  In my blog about exposure control, it was mentioned that you really should not try to do any photo at a shutter speed slower than 1/60th of a second.  So, with this above photo, it was done at a full second, you can imagine that the photo would be terrible without a tripod.

Also, notice that the only thing that is blurry is the water, that moves.   Let’s look at one more photo to give you a good idea of how to control blur on water:

long 2
Photo by Duarte Sol Photography

Even though this is a black and white photo, imagine here now, how you can take the waves of the ocean, and make them look almost “cloud-like”.  I know Duarte Sol, and he takes a lot of photos this way.  I am not sure again, the amount of the exposure, but this is much longer than 1 second.  With the use of a neutral density filter ( and we will spend some time on filters in a future blog), so he could cut the exposure time even longer, I am guessing that this exposure was longer than 10 seconds.  Isn’t that an amazing photo?

When I first started checking out all the different photos of “long Exposure”
Photos, I have to admit, I was surprised at the different types of 
Long exposure photos there were.  They are not just water photos, there are 
many different other ways to take long exposure photos.  And as 
you go through this gallery of photos, I tried to find a variety of different
types of long exposure photos, and of course, all of them are just incredible.
I think they bring out some of the mysteries of the world, in some cases.  So, 
please, don’t stop until you have seen them all. :
long 3
Picture of the day by NASA.  Photo Credit:  Michael Goh
This is a picture of the Milky way over the Pinnacles in 

To take photos of stars, especially like the above photo, takes a special lens, and being in the right place where there is no “dirty air” to get this type of photo.  You can generally get a photo like this in about 1 to 2 minutes, but, you have to practice this one for sure, and be way out away from the city.


long 10
Photo Credit: Paul Scearce Photography
Note:  Put your camera up on the tripod, and get a good vantage point 
of your city, and it becomes lovely again, right?




long 14
Photo Credit:  Sean Allott
Note:  This is not an easy one to do.  But, takes practice to get this one.  But, isn’t that magnificent.  But, that
is a series of one long exposure, with the flash going off 3 times while the dancer moves through 
the field of view.  Great job.


The above photo is just an example of one of the things you can do with a slow shutter speed, but requires certain skill for sure.  I am not going to tell you how to accomplish this type of picture, just note that it requires some flash work, and a lot of practice to get it right.   The details are really captured underneath the  photo.  You just have to practice that, and have the right equipment.

So, that completes the subject of how to use your camera for different shutter speed settings.

We have now covered:  Aperture settings, ISO settings, and now shutter speed settings.  Are you excited to find out what I will cover next?  Read on the next blog and see.






Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.