Exercise: Shutter speeds (TAoP)

Objective :To demonstrate how shutter speed effects movement. Altering shutter speed also determines the levels of sharpness obtained.

For this exercise i selected ‘S’ mode on my Nikon. This is ‘Shutter priority’ mode. I have a range from 30 (1/2 a minute) to 1/200 (200th of a second) with the standard camera.  (This can be increased using high speed flash sync to 1/4000th with compatible flashguns.)

Initially I intended to use a fountain as my subject but due to wisdom teeth problems and thunderstorms i decided to use a closer, easier object instead as i wanted to stick to my deadline and not fall behind on further projects.

I will however be re doing this exercise as planned, but for now i think I’ve demonstrated the objective of this exercise.

I have chosen the following pictures that best represent the difference between shutter speeds. these were shot at 30, 6, and 1.6, to demonstrate a long shutter speed and 1/60, 1/125 and 1/200 for the fast shutter speed. The ISO remained at 400 throughout.

30 seconds


6 seconds


1.6 seconds


1/60th of a second


1/125th of a second


1/200th of a second


As anticipated, a longer shutter speeds makes the water look silky and soft, almost creamy. The short shutter speed captures the water more dramatically resulting in a much sharper image.

I have also noticed that a longer shutter speed shows the background in more focus, whereas the later shots at 1/125 and 1/200 have blurred backgrounds. The background starts to be out of focus around 1.6 of a second.

There were a few issues I faced with this exercise. In theory it was pretty straight forward but i hadn’t taken into account the flash bouncing off the ceramic bath surface, the white background behind the water (my results may have been more noticeable if there was a different colour behind the water – especially for the long shutter speed shots) and the amount of light. For the long shutter speeds I had to turn off the bathroom light and take the pictures almost in complete darkness. I would like to see how this exercise would turn out if I used an outdoor setting with a constant light source. The built in flash became necessary at 1/30 making the pictures look very different to the shots taken with a long shutter speed.

My favourite image is the 1/200th. I love how the water looks sparkly and sharp and the contrast is vivid. It feels much more ‘artistic’ than the other shots.

One thought on “Exercise: Shutter speeds (TAoP)

  1. Mel Cuccio

    Hi Saff I had no idea that the difference betweeen the fastest and slowest speeds would be so marked. At the very fastest speeds it doesn’t look like water, it looks more like solid ice or even molten metal. And no shadow from the tap. Can’t wait to see the fountain shots!


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