Tips | Know when to shutter

Tip | Know when to shutter

Written by Matt Mrozinski


To shutter or not to shutter, that is the question.  For some it feels as complicated as reading Hamlet, William Shakespeare’s classic play.

Over my years in news, this has been a point of contention when veteran photojournalists try to engage the newbies.  I remember so many disputes and I remember being on the receiving end of the criticism.

Just like everything else, there is a time and a place.

I like to use the shutter when I shoot.  When there is motion, like running water, I am wanting a specific look.

Much, if not all, of my shutter speed is set between 1/100 and 1/250.  On a case by case scenario I might kick it up to 1/500.  It is a rare occasion when use 1/1000.  On many ENG cameras a higher shutter speed can wash out your picture.

During my career I have mainly used full size P2 and XD-Cam.  With those camera’s I try to shoot between a 2.8 and a 5.6 f-stop.  I do that for two reasons.  First, as with any camera, it allows me to get a more shallow depth of field.  Second, on those two cameras the more light you get on the chip the better saturation you can have in your picture.  Shooting at a high f-stop can reduce picture quality in some cases.

If you take anything away from this tip, turn the damn shutter off when shooting helicopters.

What is most painful to see is the video above posted by Cinematography.  This is what it looks like when misuse of the shutter negates actual reality.  Every rookie makes this mistake.  Perhaps some of you are still making it.

Photography, writing and storytelling is an art.  There are no blanket rules.  That’s why it is called a craft.  Everything is a tool to help you illustrate a story.  Respect them all and use them with purpose.