What is Shutter Speed? Photography for Beginners Series
Now that you ‘get’ aperture – let’s try to make sense of another element of exposure. What is shutter speed in photography? In episode 4 I am going to break this down for you with lots of examples until that lightbulb appears above your head. Shutter speed simplicity…
Here’s a summary of what is included in this shutter speed episode but remember there is so much more in the podcast so give it a listen if you can!
- Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second and seconds. 1000 means 1/1000 of a second, 4 means ¼ of a second. You will know that you have moved into seconds when quotation marks appear after your number. E.g. 2” means 2 seconds.
- If your shutter speed is slower than anything that is moving in your scene then you will capture the reflected light from that moving person or thing and you will get ‘motion blur’ in your image.
- In photography, one second is a very long time! A lot of movement can happen in one second.
- How fast you need your shutter to be depends on what you are taking a photograph of. It depends how fast things in your scene are moving and how sharp you want them to be.
- I have minimum shutter speeds which I am not willing to go below in certain scenarios. With people who are not moving much I will rarely let my shutter speed get slower than 1/125 of a second. With people who are moving about more (very small children or families playing) then I don’t allow my shutter speed to get slower than 1/250 of a second. This is a minimum. I would much rather it was faster. The faster the better for my style of photography.
- If you have chosen your aperture and your ISO then you will not know what your shutter speed should be until you have ‘metered’ the light. You don’t just guess and hope for the best. We will be learning how to meter the light in future episodes.
- Even if nothing in your scene is moving – YOU move. There is only so long you can stay still. There is a handy rule to help you understand how slow your shutter speed can get before you will make your camera shake (just by breathing!) If your lens has a focal length of 50mm you don’t want to get slower than 1/50 of a second. If your lens is 200mm you don’t want to get slower than 1/200 of a second and so on… To find out the focal length of your lens just look on the side of it or on the box it came in.
- Motion blur can be intentional and really cool! Some waterfall images make use of a slow shutter speed to convey the movement and power of the water. This is called a ‘long exposure’.
- Because the photographer can’t stay still for very long they will often have to use a tripod to rest their camera on and they control the shutter remotely so they don’t move the camera.
Next week we will be delving in to the world of ISO and completing our exposure triangle!
TEA BREAK TASK
Make sure you are in manual mode on your camera (there should be an ‘M’ setting) and find out how to change your shutter speed. Every camera is different so there would be no point in me telling you how to do this. You should be able to look up ‘shutter speed’ in your manual or you could even type the question into Google using your specific camera brand and model. Once you know how to change it simply practice doing this. Speed it up as fast as it will go and then slow it down as slow as it will go (remember you will know you have reached seconds when the quotation marks appear!)
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