Last week we talked about how to choose your shutter speed for sports.  We learned about the three types of action: stop, blur and pan.  For each of these types of action shots I gave you some starting shutter speeds to work with, but there were still quite a few questions about shutter speed.  It’s tough, I get it!  So we’re going to talk just a little more about shutter speed.  Let’s start with a fun assignment.  Yeah, homework… ;)

If you want to be able to choose a shutter speed for sports, or any other type of shot, you need to know how those numbers affect your photos.  That means you need to test out your different shutter speeds to see how they change your photos.  Try this fun, simple exercise for How to Choose Your Shutter Speed for Sports Part 2:

1. Set your camera to shutter priority mode, the S or TV setting.

2.  Now go outside, grab a lawn chair, and get comfortable on the sidewalk.  The cars heading down the street should all be going past you at about the same speed (didn’t know speed limits could help you practice photography, did ya?!).

3. Start with a setting of 1/30, when a car goes by, take a shot.  Don’t delete it!

4.  Next car, bump that up to 1/60, then 1/80, repeat, repeat, repeat.

5. Do this until you get up to about 1/3200 (or as high as your camera will go).

6.  Now take a look at those shots.  In the beginning the photos will be bright (maybe so bright that you only see white) and the car will be a little blurry.  As you increase your shutter speed the pictures will get darker and less blurry.  Somewhere in the process you will see your perfect shot.  Not too light or dark, and not too blurry.  Remember to check those high motion areas (like the wheels) for blur.  Now you get an idea of how shutter speed works in real life.  Cool, huh?!

Shutter speed is one of the “magic three” for correct exposure: aperture, ISO, shutter speed.  These three things make up the degree of light in every photo you ever take.  Your camera’s Auto mode chooses all three of these settings for you.  It bases it’s decision on being average.  It assumes you are an average person, taking an average picture, in average light, and expecting an average outcome.  That means if you let your camera make the decisions about these three important settings, then your pictures will be average.  But you, you’re shooting sports.  You want to be above average.

The world, sports included, moves at many different speeds.  So I can’t tell you one magic setting that will make all your pictures perfect forever after.  What I can do, is share with you a little “cheat sheet” of shutter speeds.  Since most questions revolved around stopping the action, these are some shutter speeds that I’ve worked out over the years of shooting sports, and they will give you a good starting point.  The first number is the lowest you can generally shoot at without getting blur for the people in the sport.  The higher number is where you need to start if you want to stop blur in the high motion areas: balls, hands, feet, etc.

  •  running – 1/250-1/320
  • football/soccer – 1/250-1/500
  • softball/baseball – 1/320-1/500-1/1000
  • lacrosse/hockey – 1/500-1/1000-1/3200

As we sink further into autumn, we are all about to be spending a lot of time indoors and that’s the perfect time to learn how to get your own awesome photos.   If you would like to learn more, sign up for one of my upcoming winter workshops; the half-day  Budding or full-day Growing Workshops, AND!!!! The Photography Workshop Cruise to the Bahamas is starting to fill up, so grab your spot before they’re gone!  Both Tina Erdmann and I will be teaching (and cruising around the Bahamas with you)!!

Play hard, and have fun!


p.s. Christina B. and Megan V., I have your questions and will be answering those when we talk about gear and settings!  It’s coming up ;)

If you’ve missed any of this series on how to shoot kids sports, you can catch up here…

How to Photograph Kids Sports

5 Types of Light to Look for When Photographing Kids Sports

How to Shoot Sports in a Gym or Stadium With Artificial Light

How to Choose Your Shutter Speed for Sports


2 Comments: “How to Choose Your Shutter Speed for Sports Part 2 : Beth Wendland”

  1. […] with the web articles we’ve previously featured by Beth Wendland found here, you have all the info you need to tackle that indoor hockey game or swim meet. We’re down to […]