Top secrets to understanding shutter speed

I am excited to continue my Photography series with you today! We are going to jump a little deeper in the photography pool and take a look at shutter speed. Do you feel you understand it? It was hard for me to comprehend at first. So that is why I really wanted to share with you a easy way to think about it.

To me understanding the concept of shutter speed is pretty straight forward. But the actual usage can get tricky. I will speak in every day terms (my favorite way to speak by the way). The shutter is the mirror that flips every time you press *click*. It will flip fast or slow depending on the speed you choose.

The LONGER the shutter stays open, or the SLOWER the shutter speed, the MORE light enters the camera. A slower shutter speed sounds delayed—as if it’s taking awhile to click.
The LESS TIME the shutter is open, or the FASTER the shutter speed, the LESS light enters the camera. A faster shutter speed clicks in a split second!

Ok, now here comes the confusing part. Well, maybe you are better at math than me, so it might not be! Shutter speed is measured in seconds or fractions of a second: a shutter speed of 1 (“one second”) would be considered a slow shutter speed (it takes a whole second to click) while a shutter speed of 1/1000 (or, “one one-thousandth of a second’) would be considered a fast shutter speed.

girl in grey sweater holding camera taking picture Think of it this way, you are trying to shoot at a pretty bird on a tree in your yard. You finally get it focused but quickly realize it might fly at any moment.

To prepare yourself, what setting should you be on? Remember lighting is everything. So the more light that gets in the camera, the better to stay focused as well. I know, so much to think about! You will get there.

The answer is to set the shutter speed as slow as possible to let in as much light as possible. This way the bird will 1) be in focus 2) catch a cool scene even if it starts flying! So what number would it be then? In order for the click to last as long as possible, you want more time. So my design bestie, you want it as close to the 1 second rather than 1/1000.

Ok, Anita but seriously, just tell me the setting.

Sorry! This is the part that takes practice. As long as you remember that the slower speed means bigger number and faster speed means smaller fraction, then you are off to a good start!

A very important note is whether or not you are hand holding your camera or using a tripod. For the above picture, I used a tripod. There was no one there to take the picture for me *and* because in order to the get aperture I wanted (the depth of field) this was the only way the camera could hold steady for the length of time. So, the shutter speed will vary depending on if you are using your hands to hold camera or the tripod and what you want in focus. I always recommend a tripod when shooting always to decrease hand shake and get the ample light you need for a pretty shot. As you know by now, light is EVERYTHING.

So….did this help? I truly hope so because I am a firm believer that once you understand shutter speed you are on your way to getting the wonderful shots you want!

Now, where did I put my camera? All this talking makes me want to go shoot some more lovely summer scenes!

Happy day!

xo,

Anita

 

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