Understanding Shutter Priority

in #motocross2 years ago (edited)


The Tv symbol is on the dials of many cameras, whether it is a compact one or a digital SLR, and is a setting we often ignored and unsure about moving beyond the automatic settings of their camera.

The following tips and guidelines below will help you understand what Shutter Priority is all about and how it can further help you in utilizing the full potential of your camera especially on live and action photography.

Literally speaking, Tv stands for Time Value. In practice, it is referred to as Shutter Priority. This is an important concept in the creative photographer's toolbox arsenal.


Understanding How The Camera Calculates Exposure Is Key To Understanding Shutter Priority

The correct exposure for any given image is determined by:

  1. the amount of time the light has to get through the hole (the shutter speed)
  2. the size of opening the light passes through (the aperture size) on the way to the sensor

(It is of course also affected by the ISO value - a measurement of how quickly the sensor reacts to the incoming light. This is usually determined independently so will be ignored for now).

The Speed of The Shutter Is The Key To The Exposure

Choosing the Tv setting tells the camera that you want to take control of the shutter speed and the camera should use the shutter speed value you have set when working out the right aperture for a correct exposure.

Taking control of the shutter speed tells the camera that you consider the length of exposure more important than the size of aperture. This means that you don't have direct control over the depth of field, but this is less important to the shot than the ability to freeze or intentionally blur the motion of the subject in the image.

This is very important when you are shooting action and sports photography.

Important For Freezing The Action In Sports

In action photography, a useful technique is to be able to freeze the action. This is usually of the person in action.

A reasonably fast shutter speed is required, and consequently your chances of success will be improved by shooting in brightly lit conditions - although this is not always an option.


Exact shutter speeds required for freezing the action depend on the action of the subject - a subject moving across you will require a much faster shutter speed to freeze their action than one moving towards the photographer, as for a given viewpoint, their motion is more obvious to the viewer.

Typical values used are 1/125 to 1/2000 of a second.

Important For Blurring The Action In Sports

In action photography this technique is most likely to be useful for a technique called panning, where the aim is to keep the subject sharp, but allow the background to become motion blurred. This is a great technique for giving the sense of movement and motion of the subject, but requires some practice to gain proficiency.


Typical shutter speeds used in panning are 1/15s to 1/60s second. Much slower, and it is difficult to freeze the motion of the subject; much faster and either too much is frozen, or more likely the images suffers from that middle ground where the action is neither entirely frozen, nor successfully blurred - it's neither one nor the other and doesn't usually look good.

In summary, the Tv Setting gives you the creative control over the shutter speed - enabling better use of techniques that freeze or blur the action.

There you have it guys, some basics about the Tv (Shutter Priority) on our dear cameras. Moreover, here are additional photos taken from a previous gig we covered.





Til then.

Thank you and stay awesome.

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All photos are mine and are taken with a Nikon D4.


very nicely explained thank you. I shared your post with Photography 101 I think many will benefit from this!

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Thanks for this post @Horus. I've always enjoyed your posts. Instructive, edifying. I just wanted to add that for those of us not doing much sports, shutter priority is the way to go in those blurry waterfalls and night photography.
You got my upvote.

You are correct @abbiephoto :) Thanks for dropping by

Hala dili gyud ko kaybaw mu capture sir ug mga butang nga in motion. Thanks ani sir :D haha i apply ra kuni puhon hahaha CAMERA NA THIS!

Mao nay gamit sa Tv / Av dong :)

Haaay idola ani oi <3 @wdoutjah.

Charrrrr :P

Love seeing educational stuff here!

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Great info! Thanks for presenting it so concisely!

Glad to create a mentoring group on our Discord with you! It is a great enrichment to our community!

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Hello @wdoutjah, thank you for sharing this creative work! We just stopped by to say that you've been upvoted by the @creativecrypto magazine. The Creative Crypto is all about art on the blockchain and learning from creatives like you. Looking forward to crossing paths again soon. Steem on!

great post on the use of shutter priority

some people think they have to shoot on manual...you are right .. for action semi-automatic Tv shutter priority is the way to go.