This Article is About
shutter speeds
digital slr cameras
aperture setting
shutter button
aperture settings
shutter speed
amazing effects
correct exposure
little understanding
manual mode
length of time
Mastering Shutter Speeds
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Shutter speed is one of the methods used to control how much light is processed by the cameras sensor. It can also be used to manipulate special effects to create striking photos. Mastering shutter speeds is not difficult at all, it just takes a little understanding to know what effects you can create.

First off I want to explain what the shutter does before we get into mastering shutter speeds. The shutter is a device that allows light to reach the cameras sensor, the length of time the shutter is opened determines how long the light is directed onto that sensor. Therefore shutter speeds are measured in time. The speed of a shutter is measured in fractions of seconds with the fastest being 1/16000 of a second, now this is only available in the very high end digital SLR cameras. Most cameras only go as fast as 1/8000 of a second with the slowest being 1 minute or several hours. The shutter speed works inversely with aperture settings to allow for the correct exposure. A long shutter speed will use a smaller aperture setting and vice versa, a quick shutter utilizes a wider aperture to be sure enough light reaches the sensor. When shooting in shutter priority, your camera will automatically adjust aperture for what it thinks is optimal to have the perfect exposure come out. This may or may not be what you want, so when it comes to mastering shutter speeds, try shooting in Manual mode so you can adjust both shutter and aperture together.

Slow or lengthy shutter speeds can be used to create amazing effects but you will need to be very still with the camera or the picture will be ruined. Even the action of pressing the shutter button causes enough camera shake to distort the image. If you want to be mastering shutter speeds I highly suggest using a tripod if possible. There are other methods to reduce camera shake if a tripod isn't available, for example try resting your body against a wall or the ground, rest the camera on a ledge or table, and you can also try buying a remote for your camera then you don't need to touch it at all when taking pictures. Many lenses now come with a Vibration Reduction feature which helps reduce the effects of camera shake, but only a tiny bit.

Most people have seen waterfall or wave pictures where the water is all smooth and looks like its still moving in the picture. This is done with a combination of small aperture and long shutter speed. It all depends on the light available where you are taking the picture so you may need to take several pictures to get the exposure and effect correct. Another photo I really enjoy when delaying the shutter speed is the effect of moving traffic where the lights of the vehicles are streaming across the photo. This is in fact one of the easiest to do in my opinion, it requires a wider aperture because you are now shooting in the dark as well as the long shutter speed. Again, you will need to take a few test shots to get it just right, so don't be afraid to experiment with your camera.

Mastering shutter speeds means more than just slow photography, it also allows you to take fast moving pictures such as cars, sports or children. Too slow of a shutter speed will blur all of these if done incorrectly. If you have ever tried to take a photo at a car race, a hockey game or even a bird flying by, you know what I mean. To speed up the shutter you will need to make sure the aperture is slightly larger than normal to allow that all important light to reach the cameras sensor. Not enough light will make the picture look dark and empty.

The only true way to get good at mastering shutter speeds is by trial and error, and learning how to adjust your camera settings. So get out there and take lots of photos at different shutter and aperture settings. When you figure that out you can then try adjusting the exposure values as well to learn how versatile your photos can be.


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