Shutter Priority Mode: Photography Friday, Week 8

If you own a DSLR camera, you have the option of shooting in Shutter Priority Mode.

Shutter Priority Mode is designated by Tv (time value) on a Canon camera, and by S on Nikon cameras.

In Shutter Priority Mode, the user chooses the specific shutter speed they prefer and the camera automatically adjusts the aperture accordingly.  Like Aperture Priority Mode, it is a semi-automatic mode of operation for your camera.

Why would you want to shoot in Shutter Priority Mode?

Shutter speed effects how you, as a photographer, capture movement.  Thus, Shutter Priority Mode is most often used to capture a moving subject.

A faster shutter speed "freezes" the motion of your subject.  A slower shutter speed will show motion as a blur.

Shutter Priority Mode is the mode for action.  When I was first learning, I used to think "S for sports; S for Shutter Speed.  It helped me to remember when I might want to use Shutter Priority Mode, although there are many types of action shots besides sports shots.

(By the way, I'm not using my own photos as examples today – I didn't have time to go through my thousands of photos to find perfect examples so I pulled some from stock photo sites instead.)

Here are some shutter speed guidelines you might find helpful:

1.  Use one second (or even much slower speeds) at night/dusk to make the water in a waterfall look like a smooth blur or to capture city lights or to get "light trails" of moving vehicles.  * Use a tripod! *


2.  Use 1/30 to 1/8 of a second for panning with the motion of your subject.  (Using a tripod works best here too!)  Panning is when you follow the subject as it moves.  The subject appears sharp and the background will be blurred.


3.  Use 1/500 to 1/2000 of a second when action is moving side to side or up and down.


4.  Use 1/250 of a second when action is coming towards your camera.


For the best results, Shutter Priority Mode is often combined with Al Servo AF Mode /Canon – Continuous AF/Nikon. 

It takes a little practice to get it right, but don't give up.  You can do it – I know you can!

Those of us living in the United States have a three day, holiday, weekend ahead of us.  I hope everyone takes lots of photos and then shares them on our Flickr site!

© Twenty Four At Heart

2 Responses to “Shutter Priority Mode: Photography Friday, Week 8”

  1. Maureen@IslandRoar

    You really have a great way of explaining this so that it’s understandable. I have to give it a try. Enjoy your w/e!


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