Photography 101 | Shutter Speed

Don’t be afraid.  You’re going to suddenly realize why those pictures of the football baseball game are always blurry.  Once you get this your world is going to be happy and all the pieces of the puzzle with come together in one accord.  And it will be beautiful.  🙂

Remember the last couple of weeks how we talked about aperture–the size of the opening—otherwise known as the shutter– within your camera lens that allows light it, right?   Well, listen to this.

How fast that opening (or shutter) opens and closes refers to the Shutter Speed.  Brilliant!

Let that soak in.

So think about that for a sec.  If your shutter is open for a longer period of time, a couple of things are going to happen:

  1. Your subject is going to be blurry, because there will be movement happening while the shutter  is open, and
  2. More light will come into your lens.

Get it?

Re-read that.

Now think about  the opposite:

If the shutter opens and closes really quickly, like faster than you blink, what’s going to happen?

Yes!!

It will ‘freeze’ your subject or stop them in action.  Careful not to get too excited because what else is going to happen?

Less light will enter your frame.  This is where knowing more about aperture is important.  I love it!

Shutter Speed on your camera dial is listed as Tv or Time Value because it simply refers to the timing of your shutter.

Shutter speed is also listed in fractions such as 1/60 (1/60th of a second) -1/2000 and so on.

So a setting of 1/60 or slower (1/30, 1/15, etc) will render more light coming in to your frame but can render blurry images if you don’t use a tripod.  But a higher shutter speed such as 1/500, 1/1000, etc. will freeze your subject but less light will enter your frame.

Now, let’s think about times when each is appropriate.

At the baseball game, you want to freeze that ball and swing.  If you have lots of light such as a bright sun shiny day, then a fast shutter speed is what you want.  But if it’s dark outside or even inside and it may be candlelight, for example, you’re gonna slow that shutter speed down to soak up the light and that glow (but you better have your camera on a table to avoid ‘handshake’).

I’ve also taken great campfire images using a slow shutter speed and propped my camera on the nearest picnic table.

This is one of those times when you can turn your camera’s dial to Tv Mode and shoot in Shutter Priority because you want control of what your camera does…not the opposite.  Just make sure you also have the light source you’re needing as well.

Taking a properly exposed image is about compensation:  using your shutter speed with your aperture together to allow just the perfect amount of light in or out to create your work of art—or your perfectly exposed picture.

That’s it for today…a quickie I know, but I want you to feel comfortable where we are before we move on.  We’ll touch on this subject again later, but I hope that helps for now!

Bekki - June 16, 2010 - 5:21 pm

I just got back from vacation and I need to catch up and practice! I think I need to start back at the beginning! Thanks so much for the lessons.

Alyson - June 14, 2010 - 10:43 am

I am so enjoying this “class”! I love that it is in small enough bites for my feeble mind to take it in. I just wish that the camera I now have would allow these types of customization. Oh well, I don’t guess I should complain about free (it was a gift). I am now just even more motivated to finally try to buy a real camera so I can try all this out. Keep it up! I am looking forward to next week’s lesson.

Alyson O.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*

*