Shutter Speed

What you need to know

  1. It works with aperture and ISO to determine the exposure of a picture.
  2. It can freeze or blur motion.

What it is

Just like the shutter on a window it opens to let in light. It’s typically placed immediately in front of the sensor. Shutter Speed is just the length of time it’s open.

Shutter Speed is what makes photography unique. If you had a choice from all media to share a story the reason why you would choose photography would be because of the camera’s shutter speed.

There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment. Cardinal de Retz made famous by Cartier-Bresson

Controlling exposure

Remember our example of a garden hose being used to fill up the bucket. In this analogy shutter speed is the amount of time the facet is open.

As Shutter Speed gets longer more light is let in and the more exposure the image is.

It’s measured as a unit of time; 30sec, 2 sec, 1/2sec, 1/100 sec, 1/4000 sec.

On a camera display the units and nominator are removed so that it looks like this; 30, 2, 2, 100, 4000.

Creative Effects

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” Cartier-Bresson

An extremely fast shutter speed will freeze motion.

1/200 of a second froze this throw

1/200 of a second freezes this throw (pun intended)

At slower speed you can show motion.

1/13 gave a lot of motion. Look for what has more and think about why.

1/13 gave a lot of motion. Look for what has more motion and think about why.

You’ll see more motion blur for faster objects and objects that are moving perpendicular to the camera.

Wrap up

Once you know Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO move on to Exposure.

Here’s a great short video from someone else explaining Shutter Speed.

This article discusses how you can use this knowledge to get your pictures in focus.

If this article helped you out then it probably will help someone you know so share is below or with email.

Ask questions below, in our community page, our Google+ community or send me an email at

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