What Is Shutter Speed
When taking a picture using a camera, three main factors can affect the photo’s exposure. These three factors are aperture, ISO speed, and shutter speed. Knowing how these work together to create a perfect exposure is what digital photography is all about.
In this article, we will focus mainly on shutter speed.
A shutter is a device that controls the amount of light that may enter a camera. In simple terms, it acts as an obstacle in front of the camera lens, holding how much light gets through to the film or digital sensor.
It opens briefly when taking a picture and then closes again to secure the exposure. The time during which this happens is what is referred to as shutter speed.
The faster the shutter speed of a camera, the less time light has to come in and affects the exposure of the film or sensor. For example, if it takes 1/500 second for light to pass through your aperture opening (aperture size will be discussed further on), then with a shutter speed of 1/1000, it is as if the aperture got smaller and is letting through less light.
What Is Shutter Speed In Photography
The shutter speed affects the exposure of the picture you are taking and determines how motion is captured. The faster the camera’s shutter speed, the more likely a moving object will be frozen in place.
For example, if you take a picture of a 300mm bird flapping its wings while standing on a branch, your shutter speed should be at least 1/500 to freeze the movement. For example, if it is lower, say 1/125, you will have a blurry picture showing the bird in mid-flap instead of standing still on the branch.
It is important to note that if your shutter speed is too high when photographing fast-moving objects, even if you manage to freeze the movement, your photos may end up looking strange due to a phenomenon known as motion blur.
This happens when objects that are moving at a rapid rate during exposure become blurred.
This is precisely why camera shutters have been called the quiet timekeepers of photography since they provide consistent exposure times and prevent camera shake by putting your camera on pause at the same time for every shot
How Shutter Speed Affects Photography
As mentioned earlier, shutter speed is used to freeze or blur motion in digital imaging. However, it does more than that; it also plays a crucial role in determining the depth of field (defocus). The longer the shutter stays open, the shallower depth of field becomes.
The camera set to aperture priority mode will choose the correct shutter speed for you based on factors such as ISO speed, lighting, and your focal point. However, when manually, it is up to you to adjust the shutter speed yourself, depending on how much light is coming in through the lens.
For example, if you set the shutter speed to a faster speed, such as 1/1200, and your subject is still moving around, you will end up with a blurry photo. Likewise, if the light coming in through the lens is not enough for a good exposure, even at 1/60 or so, then there will be nothing stopping motion from being blurred.
In essence, the shutter speed dictates how motion is captured. For example, a faster camera shutter speed should be used if you are recording a sports game and want to playback at high speeds later on without any distortion or blurs.
How To Change Shutter Speed
Most cameras today have a dial that allows you to adjust the shutter speed. Turn it clockwise for faster speeds and counterclockwise for slower ones. Be advised, though, since your camera’s aperture opening is directly tied to its shutter speed, changing one will change the other to maintain perfect exposure.
If you struggle with slow shutter speeds, you can always increase the ISO to make it faster. However, this may also affect the quality of your images, so be sure to check first on your camera’s manual settings if it is allowed to change the ISO speed.
On the other hand, if you struggle with fast shutter speeds and want more light for perfect exposure, you can always decrease the ISO speed. This will make it slower but may contribute to the quality of your photos in some way, depending on your device’s capabilities.
Remember that while shutter speeds are really just fractions of a second, they determine how motion is captured and even affect depth. If you want to change these things for whatever reason, the shutter speed is the tool to use.
Bringing Motion To Photos With Slow Shutter Speed
Slow shutter speeds are ideal for capturing motion that you want to look smooth and natural. If you take a picture of an object that is moving, the photo might end up looking like everything is in fast-forward mode despite the object itself not really moving very fast.
However, you can easily capture motion if you use a slow enough shutter speed such as 1/8, 1/4, or even 1 second. If the object is moving slowly enough at a consistent speed, then it will show up in your photo as though it was not moving at all.
An excellent example of this would be waterfalls or raindrops where some parts are frozen while others are still dripping. This is because the water is moving very slowly, so it will show up as though it was not moving at all.
How To Blur Action With Fast Shutter Speed
Fast shutter speeds are ideal for capturing motion that you do not want to look smooth and natural. With a high enough rate, such as 1/500 or more, even fast-moving objects will be captured as if they were standing still.
To do this, adjust your camera’s shutter speed to a much faster setting. For example, photographing the same waterfall at 1/500 will make it look like nothing is falling at all. However, the rocks around it are still moving and sharp because of how fast they are moving.
How Shutter Speed Affects Depth Of Field
Depth of field is an aspect that deeply concerns lenses and aperture settings. With a fast shutter speed, your depth of field becomes shallower because it is shorter than the light being sent into your lens through your aperture opening. If there are more minor amounts of light in your exposure, you can expect to have a shallower depth of field.
Conversely, with slow shutter speeds like 1 second or more, your depth of field becomes deeper because it is slower than the light being sent into your lens through your aperture opening. If there is more light in your exposure, you can expect to have a deeper depth of field.
Shutter speed is one of the most essential and fundamental concepts any photographer should master. It can affect everything from motion to depth and even light for better or worse. It may take time to get used to it, but once you start understanding how this concept works, you will improve your images significantly
Q. What are fractions of a second?
A. Shutter speeds translate to how fast your camera’s shutter exposes the light that comes in through the lens. They are usually written as numbers with decimals, for example, 1/500-. This tells you that there are 500 fractions of a second before it reaches one full second or 1
Q. What does the number before the fraction stand for?
A. This is how fast your shutter speed goes in terms of fractions of a second, which is where it gets its name from.
Q. How do I figure out what setting makes my object look frozen in time or not moving at all?
A. If you want your object to look like it is frozen in time, choose a slower speed than 1/15 or more. If you want your thing to look as though it is not moving at all, then take the photo with a much faster speed, such as 1/500-.
Q. How does shutter speed affect my depth of field?
A. Shutter speed does not affect aperture settings; the only light that is let into the camera is through your aperture opening. It affects everything else, including motion, ISO, and shutter speed itself.
Q. What setting should I choose for waterfalls?
A. For waterfalls, use a slower shutter speed such as 1/8 or 1/15. This way, the water will look like it is moving slowly and naturally.