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Select the right Shutter speed to convey motion

| May 31, 2010 | 0 Comments
Birds are usually very tricky subjects to photograph. They are rarely completely still, and when they finally settle at one place, they do not stay there for long. They are in a constant state of motion, and a good photo should reflect this. In this week’s photography tip we suggest how can you select your digital camera shutter speed to convey a sense of motion in your photos.

Just spreading the wings

Just spreading the wings

If you examine the photo on this fellow to the right I have shot while on a trip in Madrid in 2005. I have just caught him in the moment when he decided to stretch his wings. Admittedly, it was a lucky shot. When examining it closer, I have noticed that although the bird was perfectly still, its wings showed a nice sense of blur, thus conveying motion. In my mind, this motion blur made the shot.

The key in shooting such a photo is selecting the right digital camera shutter speed for the task. Switch your digital camera to Shutter Priority mode (marked as S or Tv depending on your camera manufacturer), and select the shutter speed at about 1/200. It should be enough to keep the bird still, while still retaining some movement in the wings. So the tip of the week is:

Use the right Shutter Speed to convey a sense of motion.

Experiment with different shutter speeds. Faster shutter will freeze bird in place, but it also minimize the movement in wings. Play with the settings until you find the one that works for you. It will make your bird photos much more dynamic. Let us know how it went. Happy shooting.

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Category: Beginners Photography, Photography Tips

About the Author (Author Profile)

Alan Graf is the editor and founder of Digital Photography Student. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and is also editor of – a Croatian wallpaper archive, and his own photo gallery at

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