Simplifying Shutter Speed
In last week’s By-The-Way Thursday we discovered what the heck ISO means! We also mentioned that ISO is 1 of 3 main settings that photographers adjust to snap the perfect shot. Today, we’ll tackle setting numero 2 called shutter speed. We’re simplifying shutter speed so you know what the heck it does and how it works with ISO so you can get those crisp shots!
Let’s take it back again. So, film, right? To oversimplify things, when you shoot on film, you’re basically using light to burn an image onto a negative. So the shutter is a little door inside the camera that opens up and allows that light to enter onto the negative. So, the longer that door is open, the more light can burn onto the negative. Still with me? That length of time that the shutter is open, is called the shutter speed.
So, shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter (door) is open.
Digitally, shutter speed works the same way, except instead of film, nowadays we have a sensor inside the camera. So fancy!
You: Vivi, can I see what a shutter looks like at work?
Me: Chyeah! That’s why I took this video
You: Whoa, that was really fast, Vivi.
Me: Good observation! That was a pretty fast shutter speed. Let’s slow it down a bit.
You’ll notice that the 2nd video has a slower shutter speed than the 1st, which is why the door stays open longer. The mirror moves out of the way, the door (behind the mirror) opens up very quickly (which is why you don’t see it here), and reveals the camera sensor we mentioned earlier!
You: Cool vids, Vivi! But what how does shutter speed affect my photos??
Me: Shutter Speed does a couple of different things!
- Adds & reduces the amount of light in the shot
- Faster shutter speeds capture fast moving objects without blur
- Slow shutter speed can create artistic blur with fast moving objects
Let’s take a look at this cool stuff in action!
This is a photo of me with some pretty average settings using my Canon 60D.
– ISO = 100 (you know what ISO is now!)
– Shutter speed = 100
– Aperture = f3.2
Notice the blur in the hair & face
All the settings remained the same expect for shutter speed. This time we bumped it up to 200, which means:
– The shutter door is open for less time, which means…
– Less light entering the sensor.
– Captures fast objects with more detail. My face is less blurry than with shutter speed 100
Now shutter speed 400!
– Less blur
How cool is this!? Now let’s see what happens when we lower the shutter speed to 50. This means:
– The shutter door is open for longer time
– More light is entering the sensor (so the image is brighter)
– Fast moving objects blur a lot more
You know those photos where cars are zooming by but they just look like streaks of light? Yup. That’s because the shutter speed was slower. Just make sure you use a tripod if you have a slower shutter speed! You only want to blur certain objects in your shot, not the whole image!
The next two photos are at a shutter speed 0.5. However, because it lets SO much light in, we had to adjust other settings so you would be able to see my face! These settings are:
– ISO = 100
– Shutter speed = 0.5
– Aperture = f11
Finally, let’s take a look at shutter speed 4000! Notice all the detail you can see in the hair! Almost every single strand! You would use this high of a shutter speed when shooting sports or cheetahs. Yup. Cheetahs.