hi everyone. i’m here with the third installment of my photography series, how to find the light in your photography. last week we talked about aperture, and this week, i thought we should take a few minutes to discuss shutter speed as one of the key elements of exposure.
quite simply, shutter speed refers to the mechanism inside the camera body that opens and closes to let light in to the camera’s sensor. using my previous analogy, if you compare aperture to the pupil of your eye, then the shutter works like your eyelid. think of a bright, sunny day – if you you look towards the sun, then you have to squint, the pupil of your eye constricts, and you have to blink often.
in photography, shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second – for example 1/100 means that the shutter of the camera is open for precisely 1/100th of a second. and as you might guess, a shutter speed of 1/8 lets in more light than a shutter speed of 1/1250.
in addition to controlling the length of time that the sensor is exposed to the light, by virtue of this opening and closing action, shutter speed also can portray motion in a photograph. a very fast shutter speed will virtually freeze the action within the frame. and conversely, a slower shutter speed with allow for some motion blur.
so for example, this past week tropical storm bill paid us a visit. days and days of clouds and rain. in the shot below, i captured the raindrops falling into the pool. notice the shutter speed of 1/1250. and notice how you can see the individual rain drops falling and the bubbles and droplets in the water of the pool.
in this next shot however, i decreased the shutter speed to 1/8 of a second.
these photos were taken just seconds apart – it was raining just as hard – but notice the surface of the water. notice how some of the bigger drops of water are visible, but overall this photo has a a softer, almost ethereal quality to it.
the artistic use of shutter speed is an awesome way to convey motion – fast shutter speeds are great for sports or wildlife photos….catching a batter’s hit or a butterfly midflight. but images with blur can convey great mood and emotion as well.
shutter speed is key for exposure and a great tool for telling the story in a photo. so this week think about motion in your photography. we’ll revisit shutter speed again, but for now, try setting your camera to shutter priority and experiment with different shutter speeds. notice how it affects the aperture and the overall look and feel of your photo. see which shutter speeds help you tell the story in your heart.
to see all the posts in this series, click here.