top of page
  • Writer's pictureLele Bonz

Camera Basics: motion in manual mode

What's up my friend? I am very glad that you're back!

Today, we are on our last step to learn how to use the camera's fundamental settings in manual mode for beginners. Today we are talking about motion!

In my opinion, the coolest one.

If you have not checked out the posts about depth of field and exposure, you should do so before reading this.

This will be another really easy lesson, especially if you've mastered the previous ones. Why? Well, because motion is only controlled by shutter speed, which we've already talked about.

I told you, super easy. Let's go!


Shutter speed

We already talked about what shutter speed is, but let's recap really quick.

Shutter speed makes more sense for Reflex or Film cameras because it's exactly what it is: how fast your shutter closes. Mirrorless cameras do not have a physical shutter, but it works in the same way, only digitally.

What does it mean? Well, when you take a picture, there is a little shutter in front of your sensor that will open and close to take in the image. The shutter speed is how long your shutter will be open for.


When you use a long shutter speed, you are exposing your sensor for a long time. If you do that, your sensor will pick up on all the movements that will be happening during that time and compose a single picture.

Therefore, your photo might result blurry if your hands are shaky or if your subject moves. Therefore, something like this might happen:

And don't get me wrong, this is not incorrect. It's just a choice. This phenomenon is called motion blur. In this case, both the camera and the subjects were moving, so everything is very blurry.

If you're using a tripod, your shaky hands will not be a variable anymore because your camera is not moving at all. Everything that is still will be on focus, except for what is moving. Photographers use this setting in many cases. For example, a long shutter speed creates a sense of motion for rivers or waterfalls. Instead of seeing the singular water drops, we see a flowing movement, which is really aesthetically pleasing.

On the other hand, if you have a fast shutter speed, it means that your shutter will be open for a very short time. You do this when you want to capture something that is happening really fast, keeping it in focus. Like this:

This person was in the air for probably a fraction of a second, but if you keep your shutter speed really fast, your camera is able to pick up on that one movement. It freezes motion.

If we took the example of flowing water from before, this is how it would look like with a fast shutter speed. Instead of a pleasing flow, you would be able to see better the single water drops, because it freezes the waterfall's motion.


Where do I find the shutter speed?

On your monitor, next to the F-stop, you should be able to see a number, which is usually a fraction. That's the shutter speed, and it's quantified in seconds. So, if you see 1/4, you are taking pictures at one-quarter of a second. If you see 1/200 shutter speed, it means that your shutter is closing at a speed of 1/200 of a second. Sounds really fast, doesn't it?

However, it is not as fast as you think it is. In fact, to capture something like the photo above of the man jumping, and having it resulting not blurry, you would need a shutter speed of at least 1/1000. That jump is happening FAST.

For example, this was probably taken with a shutter speed of 1/8000.

Our hands are really shaky (unless you are a heart surgeon), so if you want your pictures to be in focus, you always want at least 1/80 shutter speed without a tripod. One second does not sound like much, but our hands move a great deal during a whole second. If you add other moving variables, like a portrait, I would never shoot under 1/180, and I always try to keep it at at least 1/250.

If you expose for a long time, such as for many seconds, you will see only a number instead of a fraction. So, if you set your shutter speed at 4, it means that it will stay open for 4 whole seconds, resulting in a blurry photo if you're not using a tripod. Like this:

Therefore, a high number on the bottom of the fraction results in a faster freeze in motion. A smaller number as the denominator, or even whole seconds

Try shooting with moving and still subjects, with and without a tripod, and experiment with shutter speed.


Here you go! I told you it was going to be easy!

Let me know in the comments if everything made sense, and I hope it was useful! What else would you like to learn?

31 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All

2 comentarios

Pyerse Lex Dandridge
Pyerse Lex Dandridge
26 feb 2022

This was a great article. Very informative. Learned a lot about shutter speed and the pictures you took are amazing.

Me gusta
Lele Bonz
Lele Bonz
27 feb 2022
Contestando a

Thank you so much! I truly appreciate it!

However, I would not want to take credit for all of these. Some are my own images, but some are stock images that I used to explain the concept.

Are you passionate in photography?:)

Me gusta
bottom of page