Photo Friday – Shutter Speed Priority

This is the second of my photo Friday posts.  Last time I talked about turning your camera off the automatic setting and playing with aperture priority.  Aperture priority was  my preference when I first started playing with my camera. However, there is another setting that allows you some control over the look of your final image while the camera figures out the rest of the settings.

Today I’m going to look at shooting in shutter speed priority.  Shutter speed priority let’s you adjust the shutter speed while your camera figures out what the correct aperture is to give you a properly exposed image.

To shoot in shutter priority turn your camera’s dial to “S” (“TV” for Canons).


Shutter speed determines the length of time your camera takes to take the picture.  If you have a fast moving subject you need a fast shutter speed to freeze their motion and capture a sharp image.   In the below image I wanted a sharp picture of Savannah who was trotting across the room.  Therefore I bumped my shutter speed up to 1/160.  You can see how she is frozen mid step.


ss 1/160 f2.2

Conversely you  may want your image to show movement.  If you choose a slower shutter speed you can capture motion blur.  Using Savannah again, I wanted to show her happy wagging tale.


SS 1/13 f7.1

In shutter speed priority mode you get to pick how to depict your subjects movement and the camera will compensate by adjusting aperture.  You notice that when I’m using a fast shutter speed which exposes the image to light for a short period of time the camera adjusts to a low aperture or wide opening (remember that means a shallow depth of field) in order to achieve proper exposure.  On the other hand when I shoot at a slower shutter speed my image is exposed to light for a longer period of time which means the camera can choose a higher aperture or smaller opening allowing for a larger depth of field.

Since I most often photograph my boys, who never stand still, I try to keep my shutter speed relatively high (preferably above 80 but never below 60) in order to capture sharp images.  And if they are really moving around I’ll bump it up above 120.

After trying out both of these modes I started to understand the relationship between shutter speed and aperture.  Understanding the relation between these two settings set the foundation for moving into full manual mode.

Give shutter speed priority mode a try and see what kind of images you can capture.




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