Travel Photography Essentials Part 3

Hello Photo Pandas!

Welcome to the last bit of this 3 part series! Don’t worry, no one expects you to use all of this knowledge all at once! My goal with this 3 Part Series is to help you understand the basics and meaning of some critical functions on your camera. Understanding these 3 Key functions will allow you to have a concrete foundation of photography. Once this foundation is settled, then you may start to apply all of this knowledge during your travels and it will easily become second nature. Then you will be on your way to create stunning images during your many travels across the globe and perhaps even share them with everyone.

Let’s get it to it! So far we have covered the meaning of ISO and Aperture aka f/stop, in this last part, we will explain the meaning of SHUTTER SPEED.

Shutter speed will be the one setting that you will have to actually tune more frequently in order to get the proper “exposure” in your image. Shutter speed is shown in seconds or fraction of a second inside your viewfinder.

So what IS shutter speed? Shutter speed is the length of time that the shutter inside your camera opens for and that is calculated in seconds or fraction of a second. See picture below

Shutter Curtain

As you can see here, there is what we call a curtain, and that moves incredibly quickly to open and close. Behind that curtain is your camera image sensor that captures the incoming light from your lens. Pretty simple really.

Now that we know what a shutter curtain is and how shutter speed is related to it, we can move forward and explain to you HOW to use shutter speed.

All you need to understand about shutter speed is the following:

The “slower” the shutter speed, the MORE light hits the image sensor. For example: If you set your shutter speed to 10 seconds, that will naturally OPEN the curtains for 10 seconds. However, the side effect of opening the shutter for 10 seconds is that anything that remotely even moves will be blurry. If you do choose to use a slow shutter speed, ensure that you are very stable or you are using a tripod. *Quick tip. if you are taking pictures handheld, make sure that your shutter speed is NO SLOWER than 1/125th of a second. This speed will allow you to capture images without blur and compensate for your breathing and hand shaking.

The “faster” the shutter speed, the LESS light will hit the image sensor. For example: If you set your shutter speed to 1/1000 of a second, that shutter curtain will only open for that incredibly quick period of time. Now this “fast” shutter speed will allow you to capture anything that moves quickly such as cars/sports or children. However, being that it only opens for 1/1000 of a second, there won’t be much light.

Here is a quick chart for visual:


So all of this is great but…. I still don’t get it! HAHA ok not to worry. Here is the easiest way to remember shutter speed.

If you want to capture subjects that don’t move, use a slow shutter speed. 

If you want to capture fast moving subjects, use a faster shutter speed. 

Anything slower than 1/80 of a second, I highly recommend that you use a tripod or a surface that is very stable or your images will be blurry.

There you go Photo Pandas! Nothing to it at all! This now will lead us into your “creative” modes on your camera such as Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Speed Priority. I hope all of this made sense to everyone, if not, feel free to comment below each of these blog posts and I will help you guys out.

In the mean time, keep learning and see you soon!


The Photo Panda

Quick Cheat Sheet

  • Moving people or portrait photography – 1/125 to 1/500
  • Moving cars – 1/320 to 1/1000
  • People playing sports (hockey, soccer, football, etc…) – 1/320 to 1/1000
  • Landscape photography (well lit and no tripod) – 1/80 to 1/250
  • Landscape (Sunrise with tripod) – 1 second or slower
  • Landscape (Sunset with tripod) – 1 second or slower
  • Indoor photography with NO tripod – NO lower than 1/125
  • Wildlife photography – NO lower than 1/320 typically
  • Waterfalls (must use a tripod) – 1 second or slower
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