Shutter Speed and Panning

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed or ‘exposure time’ stands for the length of time a camera exposure is open to let in light. It works with the Aperture and ISO to make up The Exposure Triangle.


If you can balance The Exposure Triangle and get all three elements working together, you  can achieve the results you want, and not what the ‘Auto’ setting of the camera decides for you.

If the shutter speed is fast, for example 1/125 of second, it can freeze action completely. A slow shutter speed, lower than 1/125 e.g. 1/30, even several seconds, lets in more light and can blur the action or correct the exposure in dim light.

The following shots, taken in Queen’s Gardens, Hull, illustrate the effects of altering the shutter speed when photographing the same subject. The photos were taken with a Canon EOS 750D camera. A tripod was used to keep the camera stable.

The first two photos were taken with shutter speeds of 0″4 and 1/5 respectively.

Shutter speeds 1/1000 and 1/4000 (the highest setting on the camera)

As we increase the shutter speed we are able to freeze the motion of the waterfall. It gives great detail so we are able to see the individual drops of water.

Two examples of underexposed images, the shutter speed was too fast/high so not enough light was let in:

Allowing too much light to enter the camera, a slow shutter speed, produced the following result:


Panning is the technique used to capture an object in motion. The camera is rotated to follow the subject. A long shutter speed is used to blur the background and focus on the object. Only the prime object remains in focus.

It sounds simple enough, but it takes some practice. It is better to use a tripod to keep the camera steady. Here are my attempts at capturing cars in front of Hull College:



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