Photo Mom Monday By Pyjammy – Shutter Speed


I’ve met so many amazing women since having my triplets. One of those fabulous women is my friend, Pam who has identical triplet boys and a very fun blog- Her boys are almost a year older them my kids and are the cutest, funniest boys around! Pam lives in New Orleans and loves photography. She says she’s no “expert” but she really does some amazing work. After deciding to start our Photo Mom Monday’s, I knew Pam would be one of the perfect Photo Mom’s to ask to write a guest post for us.  Today, Pam is going to tackle one of the three parts of the Exposure Triangle– shutter speed.

My name is Pam. I am the mom of 4 year old identical triplet boys, and I love photography. I was lucky to have three kids at one time, because I was instantly given not one but three models to work with! In January 2010, I decided to start a 365 project, where I took (and blogged) a photo of the boys every day for the entire year. At the end of the year, I found that I couldn’t stop, so here we are, a quarter of the way through my third year of daily photos.

Due to the vast amount of photos I’ve taken in the past four years, I’ve gotten a bit better at photography, though it remains a hobby (and always will.) For the first couple of years of the boys’ life, I shot in Automatic mode only. But picking up my camera daily has forced me to learn more, and I’m proud to say I’ve been shooting in manual for about two years now.

In order to shoot in manual, you have to understand the Exposure Triangle, and I’m here to explain one third of it, shutter speed.

Trust me, with four year old boys, you have to understand shutter speed. As in, the faster the better. But you can’t just set your shutter speed to 1/500 and hope for the best, because, as you’ll learn, the other sides of the Exposure Triangle come into play.

A good rule of thumb is to never go slower than the focal length of your lens. So if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens, don’t go below 1/50. But really, since humans are naturally shaky, it’s best to always stay above 1/60 anyway.

Keep in mind the situation you’re in. Are you trying to get a portrait of your kids? I take a monthly photo of my kids, and now that we’ve done 52 of them, they know the drill, so I can get away with a slightly slower shutter speed.

Shutter Speed: 1/125
Aperture: f/2.2
ISO: 320
Focal Length: 85mm

But last summer, when the boys were taking swimming lessons, I knew there would be a lot of movement, so I chose a faster shutter speed.
Shutter Speed: 1/250
Aperture: f/3.2
ISO: 400
Focal Length: 38mm

And I’m always trying to get good jumping photos. It goes without saying that those pictures are going to need a very fast shutter!
Shutter Speed: 1/500
Aperture: f/3.2
ISO: 400
Focal Length: 45mm

Sometimes, though, you might want to slow down the shutter speed for effect. Just freezing the movement of three little boys doesn’t show the true chaos that is our house. But letting some of that movement show in the photo helps illustrate it. Photos taken at slower than 1/60, and particularly if you want the still part of the photo to remain in focus, will come out much better if you have a tripod.
The eye of the storm
Shutter Speed: .3 second
Aperture: f/4.0
ISO: 400
Focal Length: 27mm

The previous information is most relevant when you’re using natural light only. But if you do choose to use a flash, you will be able to choose a slower shutter speed than usual. But take care, because if you choose a slow shutter speed with fast motion and a flash, you may end up with some interesting effects that you might not intend.

The beauty of digital photography, though, is that you can practice for free! So get your camera out, put it in Manual mode, and experiment with different shutter speeds.

Don’t forget to Check out Pam’s blog and keep up with her photography and her adorable boys!


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1 comment

  1. 1

    This was awesome, Pam, thanks for sharing. There is so much to learn about photography! I also learned you can have identical triplets? I had no idea…I thought that was only possible with twins. Thanks for your post :)

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