Hello again! So on this post we are going to be talking about shutter speed.
Definition: The amount of time it takes for a camera shutter to open and close, exposing a certain amount of light to the camera's image sensor
That was the basic definition, but if you would like to read into more detail to understand what I am saying, here it is! It is best to read this with your camera in hand to try it out and fully understand. So, if you have your camera in hand, take off the lens and look inside of that space on the camera body. If you see a series of mirrors, that means your camera is a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex). And if you don't see a series of mirrors, that means your camera is a mirrorless camera (I can explain this in another post if you'd like). The device behind the mirrors (or you may see it right now) is called the image sensor. Think of the image sensor as the brain of the camera, taking in all of the light through the camera lens and processing it into pixels.
The longer the image sensor is exposed, the brighter the image will be. And that is where the shutter speed comes in. In between the mirror and the image sensor is what is called the shutter. The shutter is a series of very small, horizontal, metal blades that expand (close) and contract (open) over the image sensor when you press the button to take a photo (which is also called the shutter button). The shutter speed is exactly what it sounds like, the speed (measured in seconds) that the shutter opens and closes. The faster the shutter speed, the faster the blades move up and down, making the image sensor less exposed, meaning that the image will be darker.
So how do you change the shutter speed in a camera? The shutter speed is changed by the wheel-like mechanism behind your shutter button. If you rotate it clockwise, the shutter speed will increase, and if you turn it counter-clockwise it will increase. In order to tell what your shutter speed is, look for a number displayed in fractions. That number represents the fraction of a second it takes for the shutter to open and close. For example, the best shutter speed for portraits is 1/200, meaning 1/200th of a second. However, once you continue to rotate counter-clockwise, you will start to see " show up next to a number. That indicates the number of seconds the shutter will stay open. So try switching the shutter speed to 3", and see what your camera does! The last setting that you will see in the shutter speed is BULB, and that basically means that the shutter will stay open for as long as you hold down on the button.
What is the importance of shutter speed? This is only one out of the three settings to determine exposure. Exposure basically is how well lit your photo is. Changing the shutter speed can do everything from freeze a very fast-paced action to purposefully adding motion blur for a certain effect.
So I have come up with a quick list of ideal shutter speed examples in every day photography
Landscape: 1/10 (you'll need a tripod)
Still life: 1/160
Night sky: BULB 30"
Now, you may ask, "Why am I doing these shutter speeds but my photo is still too dark/light?" And my answer to that is because if you are in Manual (M) mode, then you have to balance that with the Aperture and ISO as well, and I will be covering those as well later. But for now, if you only understand shutter speed then you can put the camera setting to Shutter Priority (Tv) and the camera will automatically change those other settings to what it thinks is correct. So have fun shooting!
Please let me know if this was too confusing or if I went too fast in some places, and if you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram @darinhallphoto. If you read this far, thanks!