Stop the time. Short exposure.

This article is about how to use your camera to 'stop time' in pictures.

Short exposure

Short exposure

When photographing moving objects, it is possible to 'stop' them with the help of photography and see all the dynamics of movement on a 'stop-pause'. Such pictures almost always look very interesting and unusual, since in real time the human eye does not see what can be seen in a freeze frame.

The easiest way to get a 'freeze' or 'stops'movement in photographs is use short excerpts shutter. Short excerpt means that the subject is locked for one short moment. The easiest way to achieve a short excerpts - shoot in priority mode excerpts... This is usually referred to as 'S' or 'TV'. For the maximum effect of stopping time, just select the minimum possible exposure. For modern SLR cameras such excerpt most often 1/4000 s or 1/8000 s. In this mode, the time in fractions of a second is set, during which the image will be fixed.

Short Exposure Example

Short Exposure Example

Such a simple method works very well when there is a lot of light and / or when it is possible to use a fast lens. For example, in the image above, ISO 100 and F / 1.8 were enough to get a short shutter speed of 1/800 second and freeze the moth's flight. But more often than not a little light, then the lens does not have high aperture. Therefore, to achieve the effect of stopping time, you should increase the ISO values.

Stop motion

The movement was stopped in this case by increasing the ISO sensitivity to 1250. In this case, a 'dark' lens with F / 5.6 was used.

It’s easier to freeze motion if the camera has an automatic ISO control in shutter priority mode. For example, on all modern Nikon central control centers, you can set the function auto ISO for modes P, A, S, M. In shutter priority mode, the camera will select the minimum ISO sensitivity to provide the desired exposure with a short shutter speed. For example, in the photo below, I shot in this mode.

Auto ISO

Auto ISO. On the camera, I set the value excerpts 1/2500 seconds, and the camera independently selected the aperture and ISO value so that it was possible to get a correctly exposed picture with such a short shutter speed

But if auto ISO functions for modes P, A, S, M no, like on my Canon 350D, it’s enough in the shutter priority mode to manually select the ISO value so that the metering sensor exposure showed zero deviation from the norm.

Pigeon in flight

Dove in flight. Manually selected ISO 1800 for correct exposure when using a very short shutter speed of 1/8000 second.

The most pronounced effect is obtained when using the shortest shutter speeds that are acceptable on the camera. For example, 1/4000 s or 1/8000 s.

You can get a quick shutter speed in aperture priority mode in both manual mode and program mode. I can use everything without problems 4 advanced modes to achieve a short shutter speed, but this requires a very long description. In short I will say that it is very easy for me to get a short excerpt:

  • In M mode (manual mode) using maximum aperture and auto ISO
  • In mode A (AV, aperture priority), using the maximum aperture and automatic ISO value for which the maximum shutter speed is set from 1/1000 to 1/4000 second.
  • In P mode (program mode), using the function, the automatic ISO value for which the maximum shutter speed is set from 1/1000 to 1/4000 seconds.
Short Exposure Sparrow

Short-exposure sparrow in flight. The aperture value for some reason is not displayed in EXIF.

Another easy way to stop time is to use flash. With the flash, it’s very easy to stop moving when shooting in low light conditions. In this case, you do not need to use short shutter speeds of the camera, even 1/60 of a second is enough. This is due to the fact that the freezing of a moving object occurs due to the reflected light of the flash. The flash duration of a flash is very, very short. For example, mine external flash Nikon SB-910 has a light pulse duration at full power 1/1 equal to 1/880 seconds. And if you install flash power equal to 1/128 of the total flash power, then the pulse duration will be only 1 / 38.500 seconds. With increasing flash power, the duration of the light pulse increases. Since when shooting in low-light conditions, virtually all the light comes only from the flash, the flash plays a decisive role in creating the picture. This means that using the flash you can freeze objects at a speed of flesh up to 1 / 40,000 seconds. This is a very short time, with the help of such technology you can take incredibly interesting pictures with a stop of time.

Flash freeze motion

Freeze flash water in low light conditions. Despite the slow shutter speed (1/80 s), the very short flash duration allowed the water to freeze completely. Flash and camera in manual control mode.

But in conditions with normal illumination, the flash will be practically useless for stopping time. In conditions with good lighting, the shutter speed plays a key role. And even if the flash supports high speed sync mode, nothing special will come of it. If you delve into the details, then when shooting at short shutter speeds, for example, 1/4000 of a second using the high-speed sync mode, due to the strobe effect, the picture itself can only deteriorate.

Freezing fire is easy

Freezing fire is easy

In fact, super short shutter speeds of 1/4000 s, 1/8000 s, 1 / 16,000 s are not always needed. Very often, only 1/200 s is enough to catch an object in motion, as in the photo below:

Little bee over poppy flowers

Bee over poppy flowers. Filmed by only 1/200 of a second, however, the bee is 'frozen' in motion

Reporting photographers who shoot sports are well aware of how to shoot at short exposures, it is very important to convey the dynamics of movement there. To get more interesting short exposure photos, I recommend shoot in series.

Cheerful cat.

Cheerful cat. 'Caught' in 1/1250 second


For interesting photos with stop (freeze) time just use short exposures on the camera. Slow shutter speeds are achieved with good illumination, fast lenses and high ISO speeds. In low light conditions, you can freeze the movement with the flash.

Click on buttons social networks ↓ - it is important for me. Thank you for your attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 70, on the topic: Stopping time. Short exposure.

  • Catherine

    oh Nikon 5100)))) sorry

  • Catherine

    sorry for my first questions)))) I studied your articles all day and night, and I understood a little these values ​​!!!! thank you!!!

  • Sveta

    Or you can recommend a lens for the Canon 60d so that photos with shutter speeds of 1/2500 and shorter are not dark.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Canon 50 1.4 usm

  • Sergei

    Thank you very much Arkady.
    He knew nothing about likes. Social Icons I did not find networks here.

  • Sergei

    Sorry. Found.

  • Sergei

    Since I’m not getting anywhere, I couldn’t bark :(

  • 100kul

    Arkady, if likes are so important to you, then why aren't there Odnoklassniki and My badges? There are a lot of people hanging out too. For example, I am more often at Odnoklassniki, and in contact is very rare.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      From other social networks, likes are not important to me.

  • Nath

    Article is super !!!

  • anonym

    Good day, I have the 650th with a min. 4000 shutter speed, work as a builder and a great desire (and why not) to freeze a working grinder (number of revolutions 6500 per minute, total for about 1 sec. about 100), took a lot of shots, and not a single one was successful. This is where I doubted 4000

    • Arkady Shapoval

      There you need to transfer the process itself, and the time stop itself, described in the article, is not suitable for this. Photography is a field for experimentation.

  • anonym


  • Rada

    For me too! Thanks a lot to the author. Finally, I began to understand at least a little in the settings.

  • Andrei

    What camera was used for the article? Thank you

  • anonym

    very accessible told, thanks

  • anonym

    Article super everything is very clear, thanks

  • Tigran

    Helped prepare for the exam on the photo thanks!) Yes, the previous two posts are mine)))

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