Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shutter Speed

In order to understand your camera (and thus take better pictures), you must first understand the three most important settings on your camera: Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture.  What?  You mean they're not all the same thing?  Nope.  They are three very different, yet very relate-able (is that a word?) things.
I started writing this post as an intro to all three, however, it got a bit long and confusing, so I'll do one concept at a time.  After all, we're all learning and I want to make it as easy as possible!

I'll start with Shutter Speed.  It's the easiest of the three to comprehend, and also the most basic of settings on your camera.  Shutter Speed is how long your camera's shutter is open when you take a shot.  Or, how long your camera's sensor is exposed to light.  That's simple now, isn't it?  

Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second.  A shutter speed of 400 or 1/400 means that the shutter will remain open for 1/400th of a second.  Shutter speeds of longer than 1 second generally have a ' or '' after the number.  So, a shutter speed of 15" means that the shutter will remain open for 15 seconds.  The higher the shutter speed, the less time the shutter is open.  The lower the shutter speed, the more time the shutter is open. 

If the shutter is open for a short amount of time, and the subject you are shooting is moving, you will get a sharp image of it, because it won’t have time to move around before the shutter closes again.  If the shutter is open for a long amount of time, and the subject you are shooting is moving, you will get a blurry image  because your subject will move while your shutter is open.  Be careful of lighting however, when using shutter speeds.  The shorter the time the shutter is open, the less amount of light that can get in.  The longer the shutter is open, the more light gets in.  You can easily under or over expose an image while playing with shutter speeds.

In Mommy terms:  High shutter speed for action type shots,  low shutter speed for portrait or landscape type shots.  Higher shutter speed for bright light, lower shutter speed for low light.

Here's a few examples.  I snapped these while my hubby and daughters were wrestling on the living room floor.  These are solely meant to show differences in shutter speed.  Let me remind you that I am a mom with a point-and-shoot camera so these are anything but professional and the lighting in our living rooms sucks.

Shutter speed of  15"
15" was the slowest my camera would go for shutter speed.  Note that this picture is way over exposed and that everyone moved a ton before the picture was done being taken.
Shutter Speed of 2000 or 1/2000
2000 is the fastest shutter speed my camera has.  Note that you can't see anything in this picture.  That's because the shutter wasn't open long enough to let any light in.

Shutter Speed 50 or 1/50
Somewhere in between.  The picture is fairly clear but there's not enough light.

Shutter Speed 1" or 1 second
Somewhere in between.  There's plenty of light but the picture is blurry.

I was able to make the shutter speed the ONLY variable by changing my camera to the shutter priority mode or Tv mode on my Cannon camera.

Your challenge:  set your camera to Tv mode (or whatever your shutter priority mode is on your camera) and play with shutter speeds.  Let me know how it goes!

Pin It Tweet This ! Share   On Facebook ! Share On StumbleUpon ! Send An Email ! Print This Page ! View As PDF !

1 comment:

Erica said...

Very cool! I love that you aren't a professional w/a hotshot camera (cause I don't have one). I read a bit about the settings then I got a new camera where I couldn't adjust, but I killed that one in the ocean so I'm back to the older one I can adjust. Anyways, I'll definitely read these as I need a refresher!

Related Posts with Thumbnails