How To Shoot in Manual – Shutter Speed

Today we are talking about shutter speed! When shooting manual, I set my shutter speed last, after I start out with my ISO, and second my aperture. The reason I change shutter speed last, is because I can move this around quite a bit to get different lighting, while having minimal effects on the rest of the image. First, let’s talk about the effects that shutter speed has on the image.

Effects of Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed affects the exposure of the image, just like ISO and aperture. You can make an image lighter/darker by changing any one of these three settings in the exposure triangle. The secondary effect that shutter speed has on an image is pretty easy to guess, based on the name…

Motion blur.

The shutter speed is essentially the measurement of how quickly the shutter opens/closes. A shutter speed of 1/1000 is one, one thousandth of a second. A shutter speed of 1/60 is one sixtieth of a second. Thus, 1/60 is slower than 1/1000. A slower shutter speed will show more motion in a photo.

Hey kids! Remember when you asked what you’ll ever use math and science for in the real world? You need it for artsy stuff, too!

Here is an example. If you look closely, you can see how blurred her hand is in the photo to the left. Her dress even blurs together towards the ground as she is swaying and spinning. In the photo to the right, the shutter speed is higher/faster, so it freezes her dress a bit more!

Here are the settings for you!
Photo left: ISO 100, Aperture 2.8/f, Shutter 1/30
Photo right: ISO 500, Aperture 2.0, Shutter 1/320

Most of the time, I don’t want any motion blur! I have a general rule when I’m shooting on my 50mm lens to stay above 1/100 shutter speed, and I can move it around anywhere above that number without getting blur, so this helps me to keep my ISO and aperture in one place, while I’m always adjusting lighting with just one setting.

The General Rule
Whatever your focal length is on your lens (50mm, 85mm, 35mm…), you want to keep your shutter speed above this! However, I like to go a bit higher than suggested. Maybe it’s because I drink too much coffee and my hands are shaky! Haha!! Keeping the shutter speed a bit higher (like 1/100 on my 50mm) gets me nice, sharp images.

Next week, I’m going to give a few tips on gear, and I will be sharing a helpful PDF with a summary of the entire How To Shoot Manual Series!!! If you are learning manual settings, you can print this out and keep it in your bag!

Want to meet with me and get one-on-one help with all of these settings? I offer behind the camera mentoring sessions and would love to meet you! Email me at to get in touch!

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Catch up on the rest of the series here:
Why Manual
The Exposure Triangle
Understanding ISO
“Dreamy” Aperture

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