Shutter Speed and Dog Photography

You need to consider your shutter speed settings when taking photos of dogs, especially if those dogs move at all. Your shutter speed dictates how long your shutter stays open and allows light to hit the camera’s sensor, or “exposes” the shot. Shutter speeds are measured in fractions of seconds, like 1/125 second, 1/250 second, and 1/500 second.

The faster your shutter speed, the faster the exposure takes place, meaning that less light is allowed to penetrate the camera’s sensor as the shutter speed setting increases. Your shutter speed also affects whether you’re able to freeze the motion of a fast-moving subject.

A faster shutter speed — like 1/1000 second — is a good starting point for freezing a fast-moving subject. A slower shutter speed — like 1/125 second — is fine for a photo of your dog sitting still, but as soon as Teddy takes off, you need to quickly increase your shutter speed and compensate your f-stop or ISO accordingly. Otherwise, you’re left with nothing but blur.

Just as your lens’s focal length affects aperture, it affects shutter speed as well. Longer focal lengths inherently require a faster shutter speed in order to avoid blur from hand-held camera shake. The general rule of thumb is to always use, at a minimum, a shutter speed equivalent to your focal length.

For example, if your focal length is 60mm, choose a shutter speed faster than 1/60 second, and if your focal length is 200mm, choose a shutter speed faster than 1/200 second, even if you’re shooting a fairly static subject.

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