You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Shutter Speed Introduction

March 06, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Shutter Speed Introduction
Good morning and welcome to the first blog on shutter speed.  The second of the two main setting in the camera that control how much light gets into the camera, and ultimately creates the image.  Mastering this setting provides lots of opportunity to control your final images, particularly if you are trying to take images of moving subjects.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the blog.
Below is an images of my lcd screen on my camera and you can see two numbers at the top of the screen.  The second one is the familiar aperture which is showing F10 and the first one is showing the shutter speed at 400.  So what does this mean and what options do we have?
Shutterspeed is usually measured in fractions of a second or if you get down to the really slow shutter speeds, it is measured in seconds.  The shutter speed value, is the amount of time the light is allowed to enter the camera so if we have a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second.  It means that the opening in the shutter opening of the camera shutter will be open for only one hundredth of a second (that lovely sound you hear when you press the button is the opening and closing of the shutter).  Please note that images taken with shutter speeds below 1/60th of a second are typically taken using either a tripod or some other images stabilisation tools.  Faster shutter speeds will allow less light into the camera and will tend to come out darker - watch out for this as you increase your shutter speed. 
Take a look at the images below to see the changing shutter speed effect on this colourful windmill.

Notice that the 1/800 shutter speed image (the last one of the four) is the sharpest and as the speed decreases, the image is captured with increasing motion and blur.
1/13th of a second
1/80th of a second
1/250th of a second
1/800th of a second
So from our images above, faster shutter speeds, freeze the movement so that there is no motion or blur in the image.  Another example with water below demonstrates how the images would be with a dripping tap.
As with changing the aperture settings, decreasing the shutter speed setting by one stop doubles the amount of light allowed to enter the camera.
Your Challenge -

Take your camera out and put it on the shutter priority setting (see image below for the shutter priority setting on my Nikon) and try taking some pictures of a moving subject like kids on bikes or running or waterfalls etc.  Once you have your camera on shutter priority, you will need to find the dial that adjusts the shutter speed, you should see numbers changing similar to those options listed above when you adjust it.  Start with a low shutter speed such as 1/60 of a second.  Remember, this is realistically the slowest shutter speed you can use without using a tripod or other image stabilisation tools.  Then up the shutter speed by one setting and take another picture.  Try to keep the speed of the subject approximately constant and the camera steady and you will notice a difference in the images that you take.  You can decide which image you like best.  Sometimes you want some motion blur in images to create a feel of movement and other times you want to be able to stop the action completely to get the right picture.
Next Time – We will go through a little more detail regarding shutter speed and introduce the light meter to help you decide on your settings as well as walking through some examples of using shutter speed to obtain the image you want.  Until then, thanks for reading and enjoy your photography :-)
As always, do get in touch if you don’t understand anything or if you would just like to comment.
Thanks again,
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