Photography Review – Shutter Speed

Continuing our study of basic photography terms, this week is all about speed! No, not the kind of speed which Lightning McQueen envisions. I am talking about the speed of a camera’s shutter opening and closing to make an exposure on a digital sensor.

Shutter Speed is the main reason people will either get a sharp image or a blurred one. The faster the shutter speed, the less likely movement of the camera will affect the image. Movement can be caused by simply pressing the shutter, photographing while moving (walking, riding, following a subject) or using a slow shutter speed without properly locking down the camera like on a tripod.

Magic Kingdom Mine Train Freeze Frame
Guests riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/500s, f/4.5, ISO 100, EV 0, 92mm Focal Length.

By photographing the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom at a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second, I was able to freeze the action.

If you find you are getting a lot of blurry photos, check the shutter speed especially in low light situations like early morning, dusk, night or inside a Disney ride.

Of course, there are ways to use slow shutter speeds. Panning is one technique which I use to show movement. It is a something that takes practise and many images to get one or two good ones but well worth the time and effort to learn how to do.

Magic Kingdom Carrousel Panning
Panning with a slow shutter speed of a guest riding Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/15s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

For example, I took 11 images of people riding the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in the Magic Kingdom at 1/15th of a second before I got this one. You will notice your eyes will go to the sharpest part of this image which is the carousel horse’s head.

With a tripod, long exposures from a partial second to multiple seconds to even minutes can be created. I have used tripods to get photos of fireworks at Walt Disney World and colorful rides at night. Dumbo, the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland at night is a prime example.

Magic Kingdom Dumbo Long Exposure
Long exposure photograph of Dumbo, the Flying Elephant at night in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/2s, f/5, ISO 200, EV 0, Tripod.

I used a few different shutter speeds and found this one at a half second (1/2) to be to my liking.

For more on how to use shutter speeds creatively at Walt Disney World, follow these links:

Freezing the Action at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Motion Photography in the Magic Kingdom

Zoom Zoom at Disney Springs

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Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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