How to Use Shutter Speed in Photography

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How to Use Shutter Speed in Photography
How to Use Shutter Speed in Photography

When it comes to photography, shutter speed is one of the most integral parts of the picture taking puzzle. This is because shuttle speed oversees two important aspects: altering the brightness of a photo, and delivering dynamic effects by either blurring motion or freezing action. That’s a simplified take. Now it’s time to dive in, fully understand shutter speed, and learn how to harness its potential when producing photos.  

Understanding shutter speed

Shutter speed is something that exists because of the camera’s shutter. This, in basic terms, is a curtain which sits in front of a camera sensor, remaining in that position until a picture is taken. When the shutter opens, it leaves the camera sensor fully exposed to the light that passes through the lens. The shutter speed is, as the name suggests, the length of time the camera’s shutter remains open. The longer it is exposed, the longer the camera is exposed to the light, and the longer it spends taking a picture. These elements all determine how an image will ultimately appear.

Long vs short shutter speed

When it comes to planning a photography session, it’s important to know the differences between a long or short shutter speed. It might seem trivial on the surface, but it can provide a significant difference to image captures.

For instance, when utilizing a long shutter speed, this will produce motion blur. This means moving subjects in an image will have a blurred effect, and this blur travels along the motion’s direction. This technique is ideal for those looking to capture a sense of motion and speed, and is often used for advertisements revolving around cars and motorbikes. A long shutter speed is also advantageous for photographing subjects such as a waterfall, where the motion of the waterfall still has that sense of movement, yet the surrounding static object/s remain super sharp.

A short shutter speed, on the other hand, is ideal for the opposite effect. Aka freeze motion. With a particularly fast shutter speed, it’s possible to remove any signs of motion from fast-moving objects. This doesn’t only mean things such as birds flying or a cyclist zooming down a road. It can even capture the likes of individual water droplets as they flow from a tap, something which may not even be visible to the naked eye.

Exposure and brightness

Exposure is the other vital facet of shutter speed, and this relates to an image’s brightness. The longer the shutter stays open, the brighter the picture will turn out. So if someone goes with a quick shutter speed, the camera’s sensor is only exposed to light for a small fraction of time, which leads to it being darker. When someone wants to avoid overexposure – such as on a sunny day – this is the shutter option to pick. Whereas a long shutter speed collects a lot of light and gives it a bright finish, which is the choice when in a dark setting.

This article is only scratching the surface of shutter speeds. It’s recommended to learn from a photography expert like David Koonar for further information, advice and tips – whether it’s about only shutter speeds, or the entire scope of photography.