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  • The Basics of Shutter Speed

    Posted on May 31st, 2012 Staff Writer

    First let’s review the basic terminology and aspect of the cameras shutter speed.  Located directly in front of the sensor inside the camera is a small flap called the shutter.  This small flap opens and closes to allow light to reach the sensor when a photograph is taken.  The shutter speed describes how quickly and how slow the shutter opens and closes.  The basic rule to remember is that a fast shutter speed then the short amount of time the shutter is open; and the slower the shutter speed the longer the shutter stays open.

    Choosing the best shutter speed is a tricky part of capturing a photograph and it takes practice as well as some knowledge on how to accomplish this task.  Most cameras come with an automatic mode and allows the camera to “guess” the right speed for your photograph.  However, this isn’t always the right speed and your photograph can end up being blurred or poorly exposed.  To prevent this from happening it is best to switch the manual mode so that you can control the exact shutter speed needed.  When doing so there are a few factors you should consider, such as:

    Camera shake;  you may think you have the steadiest of hands but with even the slightest movement a photograph can turn up blurred or lacking sharpness.  The best way to avoid such photographs is to use a faster shutter speed.  If you are using a longer lens it is best to use a faster shutter speed as well.  If need be use a tripod to guarantee your camera remains still and to avoid inappropriate pictures.

    Motion blurring happens when you are photographing a moving object, like a car or plane.  If you are using a slower shutter speed, then the object will move through the frame as the shutter is still open.  The best option is to use a faster shutter speed to avoid any blurry photographs.

    It is also wise to make sure that your desired location has an ample amount of lighting.  The shutter speed is not just about how fast your shutter opens and closes but as well as the amount of light you are allowing to enter. It is best to choose a shutter speed that is allowing the right amount of light to enter the camera.  It is recommended to practice and take several pictures with different shutter speeds until you find the right one.

    Practice makes perfect and if you continue to experiment with different shutter speeds, lighting, and techniques as well as become familiar with your equipment, then you can master the skill of shutter speed.