Basics - Shutter Speed

Aye yo!!!

It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm back with another blog post to talk about shutter speed. This one will be a little bit shorter because well....there's not that much to shutter speed if I'm being honest. Which makes it a little bit easier to teach. However, shutter speed is the one thing that you have to be the MOST careful with, because if not your picture goes sideways quickly. My next Basics post will consist of ISO and White Balance because each of the topics on its own would be enough to read in three minutes.

Again I always recommend you PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE (take more and more pictures). It's the only way that you'll achieve better ones.

Before we start be sure to check out my last post Basics - Aperture. It's not required, but it definitely will help with your understanding of shooting pictures as a whole. In other words, start at the beginning, and then come back. But again, it's only suggested.

So I'm here to talk about shutter speed. Before I dive into it though, let me talk a little bit about exposure. What is exposure? Simply put, it's how much light your photo receives. Ever heard your mom or doctor ask how much, exposure you're getting? Maybe not. They're asking how much time do you spend letting light (mostly meant to be sunlight) hit you every day.

The same can be said for a picture. How much light are you letting "hit" your photo?

We measure that "amount" of light in seconds. So on your camera you're measuring in 1/4000 (one-four thousandths of a second) , 1/200 (one-two hundredths of a second), 1/60 (one-sixtieth of a second), etc.

Now some of you are like, "Wait."

Time. Math. Fractions.

Isaiah I hate two out of the three and when you throw time in there, it can't be good.

Give me just one second.

Okay, that pun was not on purpose.

Each of those increments of time is a part of a second. Think about blinking your eyes.

What happens if you blink your eye really fast? Try it. Like ACTUALLY try it. You don't get a lot of light and your brain is constantly trying to interpret what you're seeing.

The same goes for a FAST shutter speed. A FAST shutter speed means you aren't getting a lot of light. You're giving your picture LOW exposure to light. Low exposure means your picture may end up dark if your other settings (aperture or ISO) aren't set to give lots of light.

Well what happens if you don't blink you're eye and keep it open for a long amount of time...and you happen to be staring at a lamp. Well at first everything is fine. Then your eye starts to water. Then hurt. Then you close it and all you can see on the inside of your eyelid is a huge white light.

Getting the picture?

Dang it, another pun that was NOT intended. No like for real, it just keeps slipping out.

A SLOW shutter speed means you're getting a lot of light. In turn, that means you're giving your picture a HIGH exposure. HIGH exposure means you're giving your picture a lot of light.

So how does this all come together? How do I use this when I take my pictures?

Remember what all photos revolve around - light. Lighting is key in any photo you take.

I prefer more light than less, but it's all personal preference. There were three actions that I talked about in my first Basics post that helped to give a photo more light

- Slowing the shutter speed down

- Increasing the aperture

- Increasing the ISO

Well to slow our shutter speed down we need to decrease from a number like 1/1600 to a number like 1/800.

Maybe the fractions mess you up. Think of it this way.

The smaller the number behind the "/", the more light you have. It's that simple.

BUT what isn't so simple is knowing when to keep a high shutter speed vs a low shutter speed.

What's a video? Well a video is A BUNCH of pictures put together. Kind of like the BURST mode on your iPhone. If you don't know what that is and haven't spammed someone's phone using it, you haven't lived.

Anyway, a video takes all those images really fast. Like really really really fast. And the playback is so smooth that we don't even think of it being several pictures put together.

Cameras can't take images that fast. But they can capture moments in time. That's what they're made for. Some moments have to be captured really fast - like a football player running super fast, a car going 0-60 in under 4 seconds, or simply a 3 year old who couldn't sit still like me.

Sometimes you want to capture a moment, that's happening really slowly. An instance of this would be the star trails you see in really pretty images. The shutter is sometimes open for many minutes at a time to capture their movement over time.

Does this make sense?

When you have a blurry picture, it's because someone was moving fast and your shutter speed wasn't fast enough to keep up with them. Well when you increase your shutter speed to keep up with them, you'll lose light (Pause)

Note: If that last sentence just confused you, read this post over again. Especially the parts with bold and underlined lettering.

(Resume) Sometimes TOO much light. Which means you'll have to add more light from your other settings (aperture or ISO).

Shutter speed may seem super bland, but it's literally where your photos start and end. I encourage you to grab your camera and go play around with the things I've just talked about. We're two-thirds of the way to creating a great image. I hope you'll come back next time.

Until next time,


P.S. I want you to know that those two puns were not created for humor. I actually typed them first before I thought about what I was doing.

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