Shooting Challenge: 1/1000 of a Second

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: 1/1000 of a Second

A human's blink lasts 300-400 milliseconds. The photos you'll take for this week's Shooting Challenge are way faster than that. A single millisecond.


The Challenge

Freeze motion with a shutter speed of 1/1000. No faster or slower. And no using a 1/1000 flash and a longer exposure. That's a great technique, but we're trying to have everyone approach this challenge from the same perspective.

The Technique

The first step is to switch your camera into either manual or shutter priority mode. Shutter priority (or whatever your camera calls it) let's you say, "hey, don't leave this shutter speed, but feel free to handle some of the other exposure issues for me, like aperture."

At 1/1000, you can capture a lot. Sports, sure, but how about water drops? How about just dropping stuff, photographing it and seeing what happens?

Cambridge in Color has a solid general discussion on shutter speed. It makes for great background reading if you're new to this.


DPReview actually did this challenge once before (I didn't know, I swear!). It's good for knowing your subject limitations.

PhotoTuts+ walks you through an evening of photographing sports.

The Example

The lead shot is by Emlyn Stokes, captured at 1/1000 of a second, and it's particularly interesting as the focus is deep in the wave (that's where you see the crisp action of the shutter speed). Water can often look inorganic at 1/1000, but this photo avoids that trap entirely.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, May 23rd at 8AM Eastern to with "1/1000" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastname1000.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastname1000Wallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of photography blog Life, Panoramic and Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.