The effects of changing shutter speed

Shutter speed, the amount of time the shutter remains open, can be used creatively to create special effects in photos. By adjusting the shutter speed you can freeze the action or capture the feeling of movement.

FreezeTo freeze action, use a fast shutter speed.

In the sample photo, exposure time was 1/120th of a second and the aperture was f/4.3.  The shutter speed was fast enough to capture detail in the carnival ride, Tornado.

MotionTo capture the feeling of movement, use a slow shutter speed.

In the sample photos, the Exposure Time  was 1/13th of a second and the Aperture was f/4.6. Because the shutter speed was slow, the movement of the Tornado was is apparent.


By tracking a moving subject, called panning, the subject stays in focus while the background is blurred. Successful panning requires practice. Make sure to lock focus on the subject.

If your camera has a Continuous Mode or Panning Image Stabilization mode, use either or both.

Fully automatic options

If you can’t manually control shutter speed:

  • For freeze action – Sports mode
  • For motion action – Night scene mode, which uses slow-synch flash (camera support recommended)

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