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So What Can a Fast Shutter Speed Achieve in Photography?

written by: Fatima A.•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 9/20/2011

Want to capture a flying bird in motion or slow down a zooming car? How about photographing a running animal or capturing rain drops from the sky? High shutter speed settings can result in some amazing effects. Below are a few examples.

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    The Concept Behind It

    Shutter speed is used in digital photography to control two important aspects - light and motion. Slower shutter speeds like 1/15 of a second can blur movement and let more light into the camera, such as in the case of a dark room or night photography. Photographers use these options when they want to add a blurring effect to their subjects, whether it is the object itself or the background to show the speed of the moving object achieved by a principle called panning in photography.

    On the other hand, fast shutter speeds are used to focus and freeze moving objects. It can be used in nature photography, sports photography and other creative situations such as to show freezing rain, or a moving ball, or flapping wings of a bird. Pictures taken at 4000 shutter speed, which is one of the highest shutter speeds available in digital cameras can be used to depict amazing still shots and capture flying moments that even a human eye can sometimes barely focus on.

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    Freezing Rain

    Pictures taken at 4000 shutter speed This amazing picture by simon.carr shows the concept of using 1/4000 shutter speed to freeze rain droplets in motion. The picture creatively depicts rain droplets that are the main focus of the picture with a blurred background.

    This picture on the right by John&Fish used 1/4000 shutter speed to not only freeze rain but also the beautiful wings of a bird possibly about to take a flight. The high shutter speed allowed the camera to freeze everything within the frame.Pictures taken at 4000 shutter speed 

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    Snow Boarding If there is any occasion where higher shutter speeds are of great importance, its the sports arena. Sports photographers take advantage of high shutter speeds on a constant basis to depict special moments. The picture on the left by Andrea Tiziano Pizzeghello is one such example where 1/4000 shutter speed was used to freeze the fast moving snow boarder in mid air.

    Another sports representation of how 1/4000 shutter speed can be used, this amazing shot by vramak shows a soccer player hitting the ball against the sun. The fast shutter speed allowed the photographer to freeze the shot right when the ball aligned with the sun in the background.Pictures taken at 4000 shutter speed  creating a creative and incredible silhouette.

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    Flying Pigeon Nature is a fantastic ground for good fast shutter speed photography and birds are a common target of this type of nature photography because of their high speeds and flapping wings. The picture on the left by Viamoi is an excellent depiction of a flying pigeon caught by the 1/4000 shutter speed of his camera.

    Another amazing humming bird stopped in motion by the fast shutter speed of Jashir's camera.Humming bird 

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    Pictures taken at 4000 shutter speed can present creative possibilities but they do require some key adjustments. The first thing to remember about fast shutter speeds is the low amount of light that will be entering the camera. This can be fixed in a number of ways such as using high ISO settings and adjusting the aperture. On the other hand, if there is too much light present, fast shutter speeds can be used to control the amount of light entering the camera. Keeping these few things in mind will always ensure a great photography experience and beautiful, as well as creative photos every time!


Shutter Speed

Here is a series of articles on different types of shutter speeds in digital photography.
  1. 1/8000 Shutter Speed
  2. 1/60 Shutter Speed
  3. 1/500 Shutter Speed
  4. So What Can a Fast Shutter Speed Achieve in Photography?
  5. 1/1000 Shutter Speed