It’s time for another addition of Bloggography! Today we’ll concentrate on shutter speed.
Visit my co-host, Manic Mother!
What is shutter speed?
Shutter speed is the amount of time that the camera’s shutter (or the opening that lets light into the camera’s sensors) stays open. The shutter speed is measured in seconds (or fractions of seconds). A shutter speed of ½ of a second is considered a very slow (or long) shutter speed, while 1/1000 is considered a very fast (or short) shutter speed. In other words, a short shutter speed has a smaller number on the bottom. A fast shutter speed has a larger number on the bottom. According to a camera, a second is a very long time.
What shutter speed should you use?
Here’s what you want to remember:
- Use a fast shutter speed to stop action, or for fast-moving subjects.
- Use a slow shutter speed to let in more light (in lower light situations), for stationary subjects, or to show motion.
Here are a few examples:
I caught this silly shot of Necco jumping over a line of pumpkins last October by using a very fast shutter speed (1/500). As you can imagine, she wasn’t in the air for very long. If I had used a slow shutter speed such as 1/10 (of a second) she would be a blur of orange in the air.
Here is a photo I took of the food table at a baby shower, taken at a high ISO and a fast shutter speed:
Here’s another shot taken at a lower ISO (so it will be less grainy) with a slower shutter speed that let’s in more light. The food wasn’t moving anywhere, so I knew I didn’t need to worry about motion. To make it a little more interesting, I changed the angle a little as well.
When setting up a shot, consider the movement in the scene. When I shot the baby shower table, nothing in the scene was moving, so I was able to use a slower shutter speed to let more light into the shot. However, if AJ had been in the photo, it probably would have looked horrible because he is always moving.
See the example below. Because I used a slower shutter speed, AJ is a blur, but there’s something about the intentional blur that really conveys his energy in a way that a stop-action shot could not.
There are occasions where motion in your pictures is desirable. Say you want to take a photo of a waterfall or a bicycle or car zooming past….or an energetic 3 year old playing at the park. Those are the occasions where a slow shutter speed would be the way to go.
Where do you find the shutter speed?
If your camera has the ability to change settings, look for the Tv (time value) or S (shutter) mode (this is available on all SLRs and many point and shoot cameras). If your camera does not allow you to specify the shutter speed, look for the running man (sports mode) for a fast shutter speed to stop action. When you select shutter priority mode, you tell the camera which shutter speed to use, and the camera will chose the appropriate aperture for you. Here’s how it looks on a Canon Rebel:
To see how to adjust the shutter speed on a Nikon, check out Manic Mother‘s post.
In summary, this is what you need to keep in mind:
* The longer the shutter stays open (“slow”), the more light that comes into the camera, and the more likely you will be to get blurred motion.
* The shorter the shutter stays open (“fast”), the less light that comes into the camera, and the more likely you will be able to freeze the action in your shot.
Are you ready for this week’s challenge? This week’s challenge will be to use shutter priority (or sports mode) to capture an action shot. It can be any kind of action–you can freeze the action, or purposely blur it to show movement. Be creative and then show us your results next Tuesday, when we’ll post the MckLinky.
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