Shopping Spree At The mall! ( a lesson on shutter speed!)


Women love to shop. There is a rule that says that the longer you stay at the mall the more money you spend! Your Shopping Spree (SS) is just like your Shutter Speed (SS) … the longer the shutter is open the more light get in!


Set your Shutter Speed.

How long does the shutter stay open…that is the question?

The almost final decision you have is to make is if you child is sitting or running and sometimes that can be hard to figure out! Is there fast action? Or are they relatively still, moving around is fine but are they mostly still? If they are mostly still you can get by with a lower bottom number on the shutter speed value. If they are moving really quick you will need a much higher number on the shutter speed number to keep the shot in focus…so it will open and close much quickly and will freeze the action with a sharp image. I generally don’t like to go below 1/200 with kids, but need to at times to get the exposure right especially when the light is low.

Here are some examples of a fast shutter speed: opening and closing really quick. Because we were at the beach and there was so much light it was OK to have the really quick opening and closing. I didn’t need my shutter to stay open longer to let more light in. My ISO could be low (making a better quality photos) and I didn’t have to be too picky with my F stop.

The Shutter Speed for this shot was 1/2500 and the ISO was 100. The quick shutter gets the action and the water drops to freeze:


This shot below was taken indoors at night with low light and the SS was only 1/50 but the ISO was 3200 and the F Stop was 4. You can see how the other factors (ISO and F Stop) had to compensate for the slow Shutter Speed. The SS had to be low because there was not much light and it had been too fast it would have been dark.


How do I apply ISO, F Top and SS to my every day photography?

After I determine how much light is around and set the ISO, the next thing I do is to decide how many people are in the photo. If I have one person and want a blurry background then I like to set my F-stop to a pretty low number: 1.8 -2.8 or a little higher. If I have 2 kids in the shot I make it between 3-4 unless both kids are head to head directly side by side in the same plane; if there are 3 people the F-stop needs to be around 4-5 etc.

There is a good reason for this. The F-stop blurs the background and makes our photos look great. However, the lower number also makes it so that a much smaller area is truly in focus especially when you are close up. Be careful, if your F-stop is too low then you may end up with one person in focus and the other out of focus. Like this photo below that was taken with a 1.8 F- stop. I will cover more about this in the Depth of Field post.


All three settings work hand in hand and you have to know that changing one will effect the other. You can keep your ss fast to freeze the action and let more light in by lowering your F-stop, but there may be a price to pay.

The Magic

The magic comes together when all of these things are blended at a certain way to get the good exposure you are after.

In summary:

1. Determine what your light situation is and set the ISO.

2. Determine what F-stop you need. If you are outside then you have more options from which to choose.  If you want a blurry background go for a lower F-stop.

3. Working with your shutter speed until your exposure looks good and shoot away.

OK, there you have it…every good photo taken, on purpose or by accident has a good combination of these things. The trick is understanding what combination you need and there is no right answer (that is why I love photography!) But one thing is sure: if you want to be in control of your camera and set these things to work for you, you HAVE TO GET OFF THE GREEN BOX and move your dial to the ‘M’ button. You are smarter than your camera and only you, not your camera, really knows what you want and what story you are trying to tell with the photo. But you must practice to learn this, the more you shoot the better you will get. 

Get confident and get off your Green Box, start practicing and start capturing your beautiful stories!


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