Shutter speed is a funny animal. On the one hand, it’s the easiest (in my opinion) to conceptualize. I don’t math good and even I know that 1/640 seconds is a faster time than 1/6 seconds. On the other hand, while that’s nice to know…what do you do with it?
Shutter speed opens up a range of options for capturing moments in interesting ways. It’s often manipulated by the “Action” function on your camera (the little guy running), but to shoot in Shutter Speed Priority, where the only thing you adjust is the shutter speed and the camera takes care of aperture and ISO, you would set the camera on “S” or “Tv”.
Shutter speed: 1/250 sec
I wanted a nice, shallow depth of field here, but it was a very bright, sunny day at Disney. A lower f-stop means LOTS of light coming in that lens, and we could easily have been whited-out. Solution? Faster shutter speed = less time for light to enter the camera = evenly exposed picture!
Shutter speed: 1/60 sec
The motion blur Teacups picture is a Disney tradition for us. Here the shutter is slowed down to 1/60 of a second, to allow time for the camera to “see” movement behind me, but still be fast enough that the foreground (me) is clear. I was shaky, but the shutter was too fast to see me moving, too. If you don’t have easy access to giant spinning teacups in your everyday life, a good way to practice this technique is a kid on a swing.
Shutter speed: 1/4 sec
This is probably my favorite reason to manipulate shutter speed: fireworks pictures. And this isn’t even an awesome one, but it gets the idea across. Slow that shutter WAY down to let the camera see those streaks of light. If the shutter is too fast, you get little dots of light as the camera only “blinks” while the light is in a single position.
I’m trying not to be redundant here, but basically: the slower the shutter is, the more movement you get, and movement is what makes fireworks pretty.
There you go.
Yay! Just in time for Fourth of July fireworks, you are ready to get out there by the power of Shutter Speed! (And a tripod. Or otherwise steady position for your camera. Because if YOU are moving while you’re holding the camera, it’ll “see” that movement, as well.)