Shutter speed is one of the most basic concepts in photography and one of the first things we all learn when we first pick up the camera. It can leave you heartbroken if that otherwise perfect shot comes out blurry; or it can leave your audience captivated when you have a true mastery of creating beautiful trails of light, frozen moments of time, or other amazing imagery using advanced shutter speed techniques. I wrote this article to be relevant for everyone, from the novice to the professional. Beginners will need to start from the first few shutter speed tutorials and work their way to the more advanced shutter speed articles and examples. Amateurs and professionals should still be able to pick up a few things here and there by starting with the more advanced tutorials. Regardless, my hope is that some of the imagery you see in these shutter speed tutorials will get you inspired and motivated to try new things.
In the sea of photography information and tutorials, there is a lot of incomplete, incorrect, or outdated information. I’ve narrowed it down to three well written and accurate resources.
1) DPS – Introduction to Shutter Speed in Digital Photography – This is a great introduction to the concepts of shutter speed, with image examples and non-technical vocabulary, a great starting point for any beginner
2) Phototuts – An Introduction to Mastering Slow Shutter Speeds – This tutorial introduces tripods, camera shake, motion blur, panning and other basic to intermediate concepts. The vocabulary is still non-technical and there are plenty of visual examples.
3) Wikipedia – Shutter Speed Wikipedia is a great place to find photography terms and definitions. However, its lack of visual examples and propensity to contain too many technical terms makes it a good resource to explore after more basic, colloquial tutorials, such as the ones I mentioned above.
After gaining a strong understanding of the basics, you might want to move on to exploring some of the intermediate to advanced techniques, such as the ones mentioned in the tutorials below. Now that you understand the basics of shutter speed, getting images like the ones you see in these tutorials should start to become less foreign.
4) PhotoTuts – Capture the Perfect Panning Shot – This tutorial provides great tips, tricks, and techniques for getting good panning shots using slower shutter speeds.
5) SLR Lounge – Getting Glassy Water – With a good tripod and perhaps a ND filter, head out to the pier and experiment with getting the glassy water effect with slow shutter speeds.
6) SLR Lounge – The Dance Floor Camera Spin – This is more of a shutter speed and a flash tutorial, but with your sound understanding of shutter speeds, you should be able to pick up this technique fairly quickly with some experimentation.
After you’ve explored these concepts, it’s time to get your inspiration. These last few don’t go into the details of getting each shot, but from the information you’ve picked up from the tutorials above, you should be able to dissect the setup and shutter speed settings of each image.
7) DPS – Long Exposure Photography – One of the main take-aways from this article should be a realization that not all long exposure shots involve spinning lights or other lavish tricks. Look at some of the landscape images in this tutorial and notice the almost-hdr-like effect a long exposure can create.
[rewind: Learn HDR Photography from SLR Lounge]
8) Pxleyes – 50 Beautiful Long Exposure Photos – Here are more examples of beautiful images involving all of the techniques you’ve learned about in the tutorials above, from smoothing out water to capturing trails of light.
9) Smashing Magazine – 50 examples of Freeze Photography – Not all amazing photography involving advanced shutter speed techniques is from slow shutter speeds. This article shows what you can do if you speed up your shutters and completely freeze your subject.
10) Smashing Magazine – 45 Motion Blur Photos – More inspiration! These have a bit more focus of motion blur, but you’ll see all of the concepts we’ve talked about in these images. A good way to wrap everything up.
We hope you’ve learned a few things here and there from this article. If you have any other good resources that you’d like to share, feel free to comment below!