Understanding aperture and shutter speed part 2

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Now that you have the basic knowledge of how the aperture works and how it can effects your photographs, I will explain shutter speeds and how different shutter speeds can effect your photographs.

The shutter speed is basically the length of time that you camera allows light to enter. The shutter speed is measured in seconds or fractions of seconds ranging from 30 seconds to 1/1000 (or 1000th of a second) these speeds depend on your camera as some will have different abilities. Most DSLR cameras will have a range of different shutter speeds as well as a ‘B’ or bulb function as well as a ‘T’ or time function.

 Bulb: When you have this function selected this means that you can hold the shutter open for however long you want, as soon as you release the shutter button the shutter will close. This allows the photograph to keep the shutter open for as long as they need.

Time: This is similar to the bulb function but you don’t need to hold the shutter button open, you simply press the shutter button to open the shutter and press it again to close the shutter.

Why would you change the shutter speed?

There are a few reasons why you may want to control the speed of the shutter:

Capturing motion – You may want to capture movement in your photograph to do this you would need a slower shutter speed, so that your camera can “see” the movement.

In the photograph below you can see the car lights moving underneath the bridge and this is created using a longer shutter speed to capture the movement of the cars below. You are only able to see the lights of the cars as the cars themselves are not giving off enough light for the camera to register them.



This is the best way to photograph fireworks, as you will need to give your camera enough time to capture the fireworks as they move through the sky, you are also then able to capture more than one firework as they are set off. As you can see from the picture below some of the fireworks just look like dots and that’s because the shutter has not been left open long enough to capture their trail.



There are many different and fun techniques that play with shutter speeds one of them is Panning.

Panning is where you select a slower shutter speed and you move your camera at the same time along side a moving object. Like the photograph of the car below the car in the centre is in focus where as the rest of the image appears to be zooming past giving the impression that the car is going very fast.


Freezing something in motion: You may not want to show movement in your photographs you may want to freeze and object whilst it is moving, and for this you would need a fast shutter speed, like this paint drop. This is very relevant in sports photography where people are moving very fast.


Low light: If there is not enough light for you to be able to capture your photograph you can leave the shutter open for a longer time allowing your camera enough time to collect all the light from the subject that it needs. However this only works if your subject is still for example a still life and that you have your camera on a tripod, or else the camera will capture any other movement such as your hand shaking when you are holding the camera and you will be left with a very blurry image.


The shutter speed and the aperture work together to create the perfect exposure for your photograph and this is what I will explain in the next part.