Shutter Speed

Posted on September 17, 2014 by Mark Fuentebella
In the last post, I explained a bit about aperture and how it works. In this post, I will be delving into shutter speed and how it affects your pictures. In a DSLR there is a mirror or curtain that flips up and allows light into the sensor for a certain amount of time

The shutter speed is that duration of time that the mirror or curtain is flipped up. Along with the aperture, the shutter speed lets a certain amount of light into your camera. The longer the shutter speed, the more light enters. The shorter the shutter speed, less light will enter. It is important to know this as well as how aperture works because the two have similar functions: letting a certain amount of light into your camera.

Shutter speed is usually indicated as whole numbers but really they are fractions of a second. If you see a number like 60, 125, or 200, they are really 1/60, 1/125, and 1/200 of a second. If you are at a shutter speed of less than a second the number will show up as something like 2",  2"5 which mean 2 seconds and 2.5 seconds respectively.

Shutter speed of 1/125 of a second

Shutter speed of 1 second

If you have a rebel series camera, on manual mode, your camera should let you choose a speed down to 30 seconds. After that you should get what is called 'BULB' mode. When bulb mode is selected, the shutter will stay open for as long as you hold the shutter button down.

Bulb mode
A longer shutter speed not only lets in more light, but anything in the image that moves while the shutter is open, the sensor will catch. If the subject you are taking a photograph of moves while the shutter is opened and if the shutter speed is long enough, your subject will become blurry. On the other hand if you shutter speed is very fast and your subject is moving, it will not become blurry because the shutter speed will be open for so little time that the movement is not captured and looks like a freeze from.

For the following pictures, I put my camera on Tv which is shutter speed priority mode. What this mode allows me to do is similar to Av but with shutter speed. I can choose a shutter speed and my camera will determine what aperture would be best.

In all these images the fan was going at the same speed. For the first picture, I used a shutter speed of 1/800 of a second and slowed it down by half increments to 1/6 of a second. You can see how the slower the shutter speed became, the blurrier the fan became.









There are many tricks you can do with long shutter speeds and short shutter speeds. With long exposures (long shutter speeds) you can take images of car lights leaving streaks of light at night, empty city streets that are constantly busy, waterfalls, lightning, fireworks, light painting, streaking stars, etc and with fast shutter speeds, you can photograph fast moving objects like cars, athletes, animals, water droplets, etc.

The pictures above are examples of doing long exposures to capture movement by the lights of cars passing by. Both pictures were shot at ISO 100, 6 second shutter speed, and an aperture of f/22. In the second picture before the last second of the exposure, I zoomed my lens in which is why the bridge shows up in two different areas and the lights move in two different directions.

Photos and blogpost by Mark Fuentebella

If you are not familiar with our camera store, we are located in Dubuque Iowa, and specialize in new and used camera equipment, as well as camera rental, lens rental, and photography classes and photography workshops. Feel free to contact us at (563) 845-7207, or visit our website at www.everyphotostore.com 
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