How shutter speed affects the emotion of an image

by Douglas Hoffman on February 13, 2021

If photographing sports, action, wildlife, or whales, chances are you want to freeze the moment so the viewer can take it in. Situations like this call for a fast shutter speed, like 500th-1000th of a second.

When photographing landscapes that have an ocean or stream as part of the composition some photographers may want to freeze the water splashing on the rocks, while others may want to drag the shutter or slow it down. The longer the shutter is open, the more movement of water is recorded and as a result there is more emotion.

This portrait, “Just Before Dawn”, was created using a one second shutter speed. The slower speed allowed more time for the water to move within the exposure and that is what creates the frothy, silky, soothing affect.