Photography is all about knowing and controlling light. To create an image we need to control how long we allow the light to enter our camera. We control this by adjusting our Shutter Speed.
This is kind of point-blank: shutter speed is how fast your shutter opens and closes again. Think of it like a reverse blink. When you press the shutter button you’re telling the camera to open up and look at what’s in front of it.
Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, though we tend to only say the main number. For example, we say our shutter speed is 250, instead of 1/250th of a second.
So why is your shutter speed important?
First off, your shutter speed allows you to control how much light can enter your lens at a time. Basically, shutter speed is the bouncer at the door of Club Camera who decides how many people can come in at once. The longer the shutter (door) is open, the more light (people) can crowd in.
Secondly, the faster the shutter speed, the less movement you’ll see in your photo. Ever tried to take a picture of the kids (or dog) doing something cute, but it comes out blurry because they moved? Using a faster shutter speed will help you “freeze” the moment and the action.
So how do you control your shutter speed? Easy Peasy! Just turn your camera settings to the Shutter priority mode. This lets you call the shots (pun intended) and choose how fast or slow you want the shutter to open and close. Your camera will adjust the other settings, so don’t worry about those right now.
Okay, one more point if interest on shutter speed! The “B” on your settings wheel stands for Bulb. In this mode, the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter release (picture-taking) button. This is what we use for night photography, like taking pictures of stars.
Homework: The click noise when you take a photo is the sound of the shutter flipping open and closed again. Listen to the shutter in different kinds of light to see when it moves or slow. You can do this in your home by standing a window, in a bright room, dark hallway, etc. Leave me a comment and let me know what you learned!