Beginner Photography Class Day 2: Understanding Shutter Speed

Yesterday, we learned all about aperture and f-stops and how adjusting your aperture let’s you control the amount of light you let into your camera and how much of your photograph is in sharp focus.

Today, let’s talk about SHUTTER SPEED.

The shutter on your camera opens to begin an exposure and closes to end it. Your shutter speed, then, is the time it takes for that to happen.

In regards to your exposure, fast shutter speeds let less light in so your resulting image is darker. Slower speeds let in more light so your images are lighter.

But perhaps the most important thing to remember about shutter speed is that it’s the most important control you have in determining how much motion is captured in your image.

Here’s today’s video lesson:


** If aperture is like your eye’s pupil, shutter speed is like your eyelid. The longer your shutter stays open, the more light gets in.

** Shutter speeds are measured in seconds. Speeds faster than 1 second are fractions of a second and on some cameras are displayed without the numerator (1/2 second = 2). Speeds slower than 1 second are often written with quotes (2 seconds = 2" as in “the real” 2).

** Shutter speed is your most important tool for capturing motion. The longer the shutter is open, the more a moving subject will be blurred.

** The longer your shutter is open, the more likely you are to have to deal with camera shake (i.e. blurring your image by moving the camera slightly… even ever so slightly).

** Faster shutter speeds can freeze a moment in time.

** Remember: As a beginner, 90% of your shooting should be in Program mode so that the camera can determine your shutter speed for you. But when it comes to capturing action, it’s your shutter speed you’ll want to play and experiment with. That, and when your images are blurry in low-light, it might be because your shutter speed isn’t fast enough to hand-hold the lens. You might need to adjust something else (like ISO) to get a faster shutter speed. More on that tomorrow.


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[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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