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Continuing from last week, I will go into shutter speeds. What is it used for? When do you use it? What effects will it cause? How to use it to your advantage. Link to larger image at end of post.
Your shutter speed is how long the shutter is open on the camera. The slower the shutter speed the more light will enter the camera. Your shutter can be open for fractions of a second 1/2000, for several seconds, or even minutes. On most cameras shutter speeds are shown as a whole number when viewed through the view finder. These are actual fractions of a second so if it shows 100, it’s really 1/100 of a second. Once you start getting into slower speeds it will appear with a quotation next to the number. So 0″5 would be half a second, “1 would be open for a full second and so on. On some newer cameras if you are looking at the LCD on the back it might show the shutter in fraction form vs as a whole number.
Fast shutter speeds are great for action shots where you want to freeze the action. Such as sports, maybe an explosion, wildlife, or motor sports. For sports or action shots usually around 1/500 is a good starting speed to freeze the action. If you find that the object is slightly blurry you might want to go with a faster shutter. If its sharp you might be able to reduce the speed if you think the image is too dark. When you are shooting at these speeds your “aperture” needs to be open wide to allow enough light in to expose properly. We will discuss apertures next week.
For shooting people I would tend to stay above 1/60 or so for speed. Reason being is people move and can cause a slight blur on a hand. Also when you are holding the camera in your hand a little shake at a slower speed could result in a blurry image. If you have a lens though with image stabilization you can get away with a little slower speed.
We know why we use fast shutters, to capture and freeze the action. So why would we want to slow down the speed? There are times when you want soft lines like with waterfalls, beach waves, tall grass blowing in the wind, or if you pan with the moving object (this will blur the background some and make the subject stand out). Slow shutter speeds are used to show motion in your otherwise “still” photograph. It is also used to allow more light when shooting in dark situations or the night sky.
When you are using slower shutters its recommend to have the camera on a tripod and use a shutter release cable or wireless remote. The reason for this is any little bit of shake on the camera will cause unwanted blur in your image. If you don’t have a cable release or wireless remote most cameras will have a delay. You can set your camera to a 10 sec delay so after you hit the shutter it has time to settle before the camera takes the shot.
Below is a animation showing some different speeds. I was hoping to get some faster speeds to show more of the “freezing” action. I will get some updated photos and add one with some more faster speeds. As you can see the first shot at 1/20 you get some freezing but there is a little blur. As it goes to slower speeds you can see the transition and giving the effect of movement in the water.
Tommy Hurt Jr
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