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I'm the wedding photographer for the adventurous couple that wishes to exchange their vows in the most sacred of settings. The great outdoors!


I also created an e-book for fellow photographers who are interested in learning how to shoot in manual-mode! Check it out below. :) It's free!


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Shutter Speed 101: Shooting in Manual Mode (Part 3/3)



Wether you’re a food blogger and want to take better photos of your recipes, a fashion blogger who wants better selfies, an aspiring professional photographer or even just a parent and you want better photos of your kids, anyone can benefit from knowing how to properly use their camera! Shooting in manual mode allows you to be in full control of all the settings, and thus, in full control of how the final image turns out.

When I first got started, it took me some time to understand all the manual mode settings and how to choose the right ones to create the photo I pictured in my mind. Trust me, shooting in manual mode sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. Like anything, all it takes is a little patience and lots of practice!

If you’re already feeling a little nervous about having to learn all this new stuff at once, don’t fret my friend! I’ve split up this blog post up into three bite sized parts to make it easier for you to learn one setting at a time.


The Manual Mode Triangle

In this blog series I explain and describe the three main settings that complete the manual mode triangle. I also outline the relationship they have with each other and how they all affect the final image differently.

What IS the manual mode triangle? Well, when shooting in manual mode, you will first of all need to adjust the aperture, the ISO and the shutter speed. These three main settings complete the manual mode triangle, because they work together in order to create the perfect image.

Part 1 – Understanding aperture

Part 2 – Understanding ISO

Part 3 – Understanding shutter speed



Shooting In Manual Mode - Shutter Speed 101

Shooting in Manual Mode Free E-Book


Understanding Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the speed at which your camera’s shutter opens and closes, exposing your image sensor to light. You know that sound you hear when you take a photo? That’s your shutter opening and closing.

Both the aperture and shutter speed can be used to adjust the exposure.

However, unlike the aperture which allows a certain amount of light to enter, the shutter speed determines how long that light is touching the sensor in order to capture your photo. Shutter speed is the third setting in my manual triangle because it’s the last setting I will modify. I prefer to use the shutter speed to adjust the exposure of my image.

Caity and Mac adventure session


How does the shutter speed affect my image?

A. amount of time image sensor is exposed to light

B. motion blur and image sharpness


A. Amount of time image sensor is exposed to light

The shutter speed is expressed in seconds and most often in fractions of seconds. The faster your shutter speed is, the least amount of time your shutter is open, thus allowing the least amount of light to hit your sensor. On the flip side, the slower your shutter speed, the longer your shutter is open, the more light is exposed to your sensor. Shutter speeds can range from longer than a second to as fast 1/8000 of a second in newer cameras!

I will typically set a much higher shutter speed when shooting outdoors because of the abundant light and set a slower shutter speed indoors where the light is dimmer.

Shooting In Manual Mode - Shutter Speed 101

Left image:

ISO 100



Right image:

ISO 100




B. Motion blur and image sharpness

Appart from adjusting the exposure, the main thing to keep in mind when adjusting your shutter speed is this: your shutter speed is what freezes motion. I had my friend here twirl in circles for me. Notice the reduction in motion blur as I increase my shutter speed. The slower your shutter speed, the more movement is captured, thus creating motion blur. Motion blur is when you have a moving object or subject in the frame that appears blurry when captured in photo. If you want to freeze that action, you must have a quick shutter speed.

A good rule of thumb to avoid motion blur is to set your shutter speed at at least double your current focal length, without ever going bellow 1/100. Bellow 1/100, even the slightest shake of your hand holding the camera or pressing the shutter button can cause the photo to be blurry.

With a heavier lens, such as the 70-200 mm f/2.8, I make sure to never go bellow 1/160 just to be extra confident that I’ll have a sharp photo because it’s harder to keep such a heavy lens steady.

On top of that, if your subject is running around, dancing, or if there’s a lot of movement in your photo you’ll want a faster shutter speed to freeze the action (like the splashing photo above)!

Shooting In Manual Mode - Shutter Speed 101

Left image:

ISO 100


1/100 sec

Middle image:

ISO 250


1/400 sec

Right image:

ISO 1000


1/1000 sec


Shooting in Manual Mode Free E-Book


Congratulations! You’ve made it through all three parts, all three settings of the manual mode triangle. All there is left to do now is get out, have fun, and practice practice practice! You won’t master this overnight, but after lots of trial and error, you’ll start noticing that setting a proper exposure will become second nature. More often than not, I only need 1 or 2 test shots before I find my perfect settings.

Finished the series? Hop to read what lenses I use during a wedding day!
If you have any questions regarding the shutter speed, feel free to leave them down below or shoot me an email! I’m always happy to help.







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  • instascaleMarch 6, 2019 - 03:22

    I appreciate, cause I found just what I was looking for. You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. ByeReplyCancel

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Emilie Smith is based in Edmonton, Alberta // Edmonton Wedding Photographers, Mountain Adventure Wedding Photographers and Edmonton Elopement Photographers

Serving: Alberta // British-Columbia // Canadian Rockies // National Parks // Okanagan // West Coast // Northern Canada

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