We are about ready to wrap this portion of the Photography 101 course up with a look at shutter speed! It’s a lifesaver when you’re faced with bright light situations and you’ve already set your ISO and aperture, so do take the time to get acquainted with it!
What is it?
The shutter curtain inside your camera opens and closes to let light in. The length of time the shutter is open dictates how quickly the sensor responds to that light. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second and you can keep the curtain open for long periods of time on the ‘bulb’ setting. The longer the shutter is open, the longer the sensor will be exposed to light.
The Tv mode (Time Value) on your camera allows you to set the shutter speed and the camera sets the ISO and aperture. Feel free to play with this setting, but I personally like having full control over all my settings, so when you’re ready, switch to manual mode (M) and get lots of practice!
The easiest way to see the difference in shutter speed is to take photos of moving objects, such as fans, wheels, traffic, and water.
Slow shutter speed (small numbers) = blurred motion
Fast shutter speed (big numbers) = frozen motion
The bulb setting is often used for sky trails!
Rule of Thumb shutter speed settings:
Handheld camera: keep the shutter speed number no less than the length of your lens. 50mm lens = 1/50th of a second (it’ll show up as 50 on your screen)
This setting is a good place to start if you’re photographing inanimate objects such as buildings or flowers. No matter how still you try to be, there will always be some camera shake as you press the shutter button, so when photographing people or events:
Handheld camera at events/portrait sessions: keep the shutter number at 1/200th of a second or higher (shows up as 200).
When you’re experimenting with a tripod or monopod, the possibility of camera shake is much less, so you’ll be able to use smaller shutter speed numbers.
Practice is key! The more you play and work on becoming familiar with settings and how they work, the easier everything will become. If you’ve done the fun sheet exercises, you already know how to look at an object or scene and know which settings to start with! (Congrats, by the way! Doesn’t it feel great??)
Think of these practice photos as sketches, just like any other type of artist makes. Rarely does anyone see those trial images. We have the benefit of digital media cards in our cameras which means we can make sketches without end!
I still make hundreds (if not more) of sketch images every year, and there are many more to be made as I continue to learn and grow as an artist.
Here’s your fun sheet!
—> DOWNLOAD <—