Mini Professional Photography Course: Shutter Speed

As a photographer, you are always looking for great photography courses.  Here is a virtual mini course about the shutter speed in your camera.

Materials You Will Need

  • Pen and paper
  • Digital Camera

Step 1 - Understanding an Overview of Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is one of the most basic controls on a camera. The shutter is a small plastic sheet that opens and closes to allow light onto the film or prevent light from reaching the film. The shutter is opened when you press the shutter release button on your camera to take a picture. The shutter speed determines how long the shutter remains open. Shutter speed controls the amount of time that your film, or digital sensor, is exposed to light. It is measured in fractions of seconds opened and closed. Shutter speeds usually double with each setting. A fast shutter speed, such as 1/500 second, will close quickly resulting in less light entering the film.

Step 2 - Understanding the Importance to Picture Taking

Depending on the light that is available, if you allow the shutter to be open too long on a bright day, too much light gets into the sensor. The result is overexposure, or the photo appears almost white, so a fast shutter speed should be used.  As the day gets darker or cloudy, you want the shutter speed to be slower to allow enough light to reach the sensor. If you don't, the picture will appear dark and underexposed.  So, how do you find the balance?

Most conventional and digital cameras have a shutter speed dial, or ring, on the top panel of the camera. It will automatically adjust shutter speed, depending on whether you're taking a still picture or picture in motion.  The shutter speed dial determines shutter speeds, and indicates timing of the shutter opening and closing.   Different selections of shutter speeds will give different visual results of a picture.  On newer digital cameras, the shutter speed is depicted with images and will set automatically, so you simply need to set it to the correct pictorial setting on the dial.  

Step 3 - Understanding Where to Find Shutter Speed Settings

Actual shutter speed settings can be found on older film cameras, which is a great way to learn to take creative pictures. If you understand how shutter speed works to effect light exposure you can enhance the effect of a quick moving scene, rather than taking a blurred picture. To freeze movement in an image, like a bird flying, choose a faster shutter speed. To let the movement blur, select a slower shutter speed. Once you start experimenting with shutter speeds, whole new world of photography opens up with a mixture of light and sharp and blurred pictures. 

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: