Having a brand new, shiny DSLR camera is only so much fun if you don’t know how to use all the bells and whistles. You don’t need to be a pro photographer in order to better understand and use your camera. You just need a simple lesson in some of the most important functions of your DSLR and you’ll be shooting better photos in no time. Check out Foto Ruta’s quick guide to shutter speed to learn about one of the most important and basic DSLR functions.
The shutter on your camera blocks light from exposing your film (film camera) or camera sensor (digital) until the moment you are ready to make a photo. When you press the button on your camera to take a photo, the shutter opens quickly, lets the light in and creates the image. Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter stays open. The longer the shutter speed, the more light that enters. The shorter the shutter speed, the less light that enters. So, with that logic, with bright light you need a shorter shutter speed and with low light you need a longer shutter speed in order to properly expose your photo.
When your camera is set to the automatic mode, it will set both the shutter speed and the aperture for you, but it can also be fun to play around with shutter speed by changing your camera setting to TV (on Canon, Pentax, and Leica cameras) or S (on Nikon, Minolta, Konica Minolta, Sony, Olympus, and Sigma cameras) on your camera’s dial (it’s the shutter priority setting). This allows you to adjust shutter speed to capture moving objects in different ways and the camera will automatically set the appropriate aperture for your light.
The photo above is a great example of a fast shutter speed. Without a fast shutter speed, the photographer wouldn’t have been able to capture the beads of water in the air like she has. Fast shutter speeds are also often used in sports photography or to capture fast moving objects like the photo below.
A slow shutter speed can be used in low light and night photography. Slow shutter speeds also capture motion in a different way than fast shutter speed. While a fast shutter speed will freeze your subject in the photo, a slow shutter speed will show motion with blurred lines and light trails, like the examples below.
Notice the light trails in the above image. The stationary objects, like the buildings and road, remain in perfect focus while moving objects, like the cars whizzing by, are captured in the form of light trails and blurry lines.
In this night photo, you can see a lot of beautiful light and movement that was captured in the sky using a very long shutter speed.
Thanks for checking out our quick guide to shutter speed. Learning how to use your DSLR camera settings is a fun way to start trying out different kinds of photography and learning to make different and cool images. Stay tuned for Foto Ruta’s quick guide to aperture, coming next week!