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.

  • gold locust dreading wheat

    Short shutter speeds are directly related to sharpness.
    So cameras with 24 megapixels-d3200, d5200, d7100 require very short - because the shake is hellish.

  • Artem

    Great article! I never knew about 1/400000 flashes.

  • anonym

    Arkady, have you ever wondered about the rationality of using shutter speeds shorter than synchronization speed? Indeed, at shutter speeds of 1/4000 or 1 / 8000th, the field of the frame is not all open, and the curtains move along the matrix with a certain gap between them, allowing the frame to be projected as if the entire frame was instantly opened and the entire frame was closed after the indicated exposure interval. In reality, the curtains move at a speed of 1 / 250th. And ... with a sufficient speed of movement of the photographed object at shutter speeds shorter than the sync speed, can you get distorted images caused by the simultaneous movement of the photographed object and the gap between the shutter curtains?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      This is a parallax question, and does not apply to this article.

      • Michael

        Why not concern. When shooting with a flash, I absolutely agree with your thoughts, but when shooting with natural light, you should not neglect the kinematics of the shutter and, as a result, possible distortions. This is not a central shutter, but a curtain-CRIT.

        • Denis

          Have you really encountered such distortions? There are examples of photos where they are noticeable?

        • Arkady Shapoval

          Parallax requires a separate article, to intervene in this article I do not see any point. Also, in practice, I have never noticed a clear effect from the movement of objects and curtains.

  • Denis

    “All Nikon CZKs can
    set the auto ISO function ”- but exactly on all? I didn't find it on Nikon D1x ...

    • Arkady Shapoval


    • anonym

      Stop looking for flaws. Only distract this.

  • Polik

    Thanks for the good article.

  • Vasil

    Garna statty for newbies (: I know the opishovka "Very often, only 1/100 s is enough to ..." in the statty it is said that 1/100 is a showcase, and on the photo you can write 1/200 that you can confuse a newbie (:

  • Den

    Arkady thank you very much! With each of your articles you can learn a lot more than in other materials on the global network)))

  • Anatoly

    Arkady, here you are writing: Click on the buttons ↓↓↓ of social networks ↓↓↓ - this is important to me.
    I pressed the “f” button and what do you get from this, what does it give you.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Likes of social networks are a factor affecting the position of the site on Google. The number of users depends on the positions, the number of advertisements viewed, the money dripping for the advertisement, which goes to pay for the non-sick hosting of Radozhiva.

      • Anatoly

        Toda will push the keys !!!
        ↓↓↓ social networks ↓↓↓
        ↓↓↓ social networks ↓↓↓
        ↓↓↓ social networks ↓↓↓
        ↓↓↓ social networks ↓↓↓
        ↓↓↓ social networks ↓↓↓
        Arkady, your work is invaluable, success to you in describing complex concepts, in simple language, often incomprehensible to photographers with DSLRs on their neck.

        • Arkady Shapoval

          The main thing is that the words do not diverge from the deed. For views of this article are already over 2000 times, and there are practically no likes.

          • Anatoly

            Subscribe to each of your answers in topics such as:
            Press the buttons ↓↓↓ of social networks ↓↓↓
            The bulk of the people, the Internet, is only mastering and it’s difficult to understand some issues, I myself also asked about this.

          • Vadim

            Sorry for the ah? .. I don’t even know how to express myself - maybe not competence? But clicking on a button on a social network requires registration on it. Or am I pushing it wrong? To register, and even more so to be present on any of the existing social networks, I see no reason, except for the killing of time. Then how to help?

            • Arkady Shapoval

              Then nothing more is required of you.

          • Denis

            Yes, do not forget that a lot of people are registered if they are. networks then do not use them. And I put two likes at once, and VKontakte and Facebook, accounts are logged in, if this really helps the project - only for! :)

            • Arkady Shapoval

              If it's not difficult - like it :)

          • Lion0608

            Here you are a wonderful photographer, an intelligent person (and a techie, which I especially appreciate). And even a psychologist is not bad (otherwise how to work with models real and potential).
            But marketing ... This request about the button needs to be formulated several times in the hosting and displayed in close-ups on the banner. People get a lot of money for blogging that nobody needs, because they are engaged in the suggestion that they are the best. Are you an intelligent person)
            Today I went to the page of one "photo diva" - uzhs, uzhs. Even without knowing anything about the photo - the background with the hair of the models merges, DOF is not used in close-ups. No taste. But advertising and narcissism - Mom, don't cry. Feel free to ask to press the buttons. No shares. Just large print and somewhere in a prominent place !!!!


    kakaya tebe raznica chto ot etogo imeet Arkadi ... ..glavnoe chto ti poluchish novuyu statiyu bolshe znanii

  • Amet

    Thank you
    You write really useful things - for beginners like me

    • tourist from tagil hamovaty

      AMET, it’s customary to contact the author of the article with YOU, so let’s give me an amlet better.

  • Vladimir

    Thank you for the article!
    In the photo, a butterfly is a hawk moth, an ordinary tongue (if anyone is interested) :)

  • Julia

    I also did not find on the D5200 auto ISO for MASP modes.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      In D5200, auto iso works in PASM modes, just find the auto iso function in the camera menu.

  • Andrei

    Thank you for the article. I have a D3100 camera. Kit lens, 18-55. Now I'm just studying DSLRs. Before that there was FED-5 (a long time ago) and soap dishes :) I want to make at least some semblance (albeit pitiful :))) artistic photography. Further, please don't laugh - I don't have a waterfall at home, the only place where water flows from is a tap (or shower). It was decided and decided to try the "time stop mode" described in this article. Everything would be fine, but the whale lens has a very low aperture, therefore, having switched to S mode, the focal length is 55 (I also wanted to blur the background), I ran into a problem - there is not enough light that is installed in the bathroom. It would seem that the solution is simple - turn on the flash. Or raise ISO. But with ISO, the option disappeared, since even at 3200 the camera grumbled that there was not enough light. And turning on the flash - I posed another problem - the maximum exposure is -200 :( And for "splashing water", as you have in the photo in the article, you need an exposure of at least 800. Question: at home, with home lighting and a whale lens, take a photo in the “time stop” mode, as I understand it, is it not possible? My choice - only photos in nature during the day?

    Thank you for your reply.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes it is possible. Try with a flash at low ISO, the flash will just stop the time, as written in this article.

      • Andrei

        I get it. I’ll try for sure. Thank you again for your help!

      • Igor

        Arkady, greetings. Articles are super. Indeed, a lot of cognitive. The main thing is that many "pitfalls" when photographing become visible and with the help of your articles it is possible to get around them))).
        I have the following situation: Nikon D3100 camera. There are two glasses: whale glass (18-55 included) and Nikkor DX VR 55-200. Actually, the second lens was purchased for portrait photography. No, well, I understand that the pros will snort - for portraits only fix! But I'm not a pro))). This is quite enough for me)))). By the way, this lens produces simply (in my humble opinion) stunning bokeh. There is also a Nikon SB-700 flash.
        So, I'm talking about fast synchronization. Is it even possible with such a kit? I tried the way you suggested for Andrey. Yes. It really works! And really - WOW !!! But (this is my troubled nature) the manual for the camera says that the shutter speed can be up to 1/4000. Only this value less than 1/200 is not regulated in any way (I tried different modes). Manufacturers "fooled" in the manual (Lord, am I talking about Nikon?) ?. I did not find any lessons or clear explanations for setting these values. Thanks.

    • av1981

      In this case (low light) the shutter speed is determined EXACTLY by the duration of the flash, not the shutter. My advice is to set the aperture to maximum, shutter speed to the minimum possible (in this case, 1/200), select the flash power manually. Trying with low ISO (100 or 50 if available). It should work.

  • Andrei

    Arkady, thank you a million times! You are just a magician :) In the photo - a regular bottle of shampoo under the tap :)

    ISO 100, Aperture 5.6, shutter speed I do not remember. Or 200 or 160. Flash 1/32 of full power.

  • Igor

    Arkady, hello again. I am referring to my previous commentary-question about the low shutter speed on the Nikon D3100. By the method of "scientific poke": if we set the mode on the camera to "Auto with shutter priority", then the value of 1/4000 is quietly set, but! As soon as you turn on the flash (external SB-700), the shutter speed is automatically set to 1/200 and cannot be adjusted downward (as far as I understand, this will happen with the built-in “puff”). Foolproof? Camera feature? Those. in low light, if we do not use flash, when photographing with low shutter speed, is it better to shoot in RAW? Well, then to "twist" what do we need? I understand correctly? Or am I missing something?

  • Igor

    Thank you very much, Arkady. Once again enlightened! I will reread everything on the sly. And "like", of course! Good articles. The main thing is that everything is described normally, intelligibly. Thanks again!

  • Vladimr

    Thank you very much, Arkady, A very useful article !!! Not quite a newbie, but very intelligible !!!

  • Anna

    say, on all Nikon devices you can set automatic ISO. I have 3100 automatic you can put only on auto mode. on other modes, only select a value. or was it looking there?

  • Michael

    Thank you very much, Arkady, for a great article and a great site.
    Tell me how you get such bright colors in the pictures as photo 2 in the article.
    Not always the correct camera settings and even good weather allow you to do this.
    What programs do you use for image processing?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Here, almost everything is untreated. Sometimes it’s just a coincidence. For processing, I use the usual set of Lightroom, Photoshop, ViewNX.

  • Lena

    Arkady, thank you so much for your work.

  • Artem

    When shooting at shutter speeds from 1/4000 to 1/8000 on any lens, half the frame, or even most, is black. In all shooting modes. What could be the problem?

  • Novel

    Artem, more light is needed at such shutters. Read the article.
    Arkady thank you so much human for your work!
    I clicked on the like.

  • Sergei

    I bought a Yongnuo Speedlite YN460-II flash, Nikon D 5100 carcass at shutter speeds above 1/250 per frame
    the curtain is visible. Can this be fixed somehow?

  • Thomas

    Really useful article for training. In order to understand what affects shutter speed in digital technology. Ico sensitivity and the greater it is, the shutter speed is lower, but before the noise appears. Flash is the duration of the light pulse. Aperture, the more open the shutter speed less and vice versa. The effects of landscape-aperture are maximally covered, portrait-aperture is maximally open (according to the characteristics of the camera). It is certainly better if the camera allows you to set the shutter speed and aperture according to the exposure number, taking into account sensitivity as it was according to the expo ometru.

  • Catherine

    oh, how hard it’s to learn, I just got the FA Nikon 1500 and I can’t figure it out, I just learned it — in the dark to shoot with a smaller aperture and faster shutter speed, but vice versa in daylight ???? Tell me, did I understand this correctly? and on this topic, the question is to stop taking pictures only in s mode with a fast shutter speed? and in m mode what should be the shutter speed (I understood about the aperture)? and in the dark under artificial lighting (garlands) what parameters should be in m mode?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Photography is a field for creativity and experimentation. If you don't succeed, try again and again.

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