Camera Basics #2: Shutter Speed

When taking photographs, you want to have a good grasp of shutter speed and its effects on your photographs. What kind of effects can you create with a faster or slower shutter speed? Let us examine the effects of different shutter speeds with the help of the following examples.

Shutter speed helps you “control” the movement of the subject in your photos


– A faster shutter speed freezes the subject in motion.
– A slower shutter speed creates a motion blur effect from the movement of the subject.
– You can adjust the amount of light by opening/closing the shutter.

The shutter speed (also: exposure time) is the length of time when the shutter is open and light can enter the image sensor inside the camera. The shutter speed is indicated as 1 sec, 1/2 sec, 1/4 sec… 1/125 sec to 1/250 sec, etc.

A faster shutter speed reduces the length of time where light can enter, whereas a slower shutter speed increases this length of time. Therefore, the slower the shutter speed, the greater the amount of light that can enter the camera.

Shutter speed not only allows you to modify the amount of light, it can also change the way the movement of a subject is captured. At a faster shutter speed, you can completely freeze the action of a moving subject. Conversely, when you use a slower shutter speed, you can blur the subject in the direction of motion, and therefore capture the motion of subjects such as flowing water. In other words, the shutter speed allows you to control how the movement of a photographic subject is depicted.

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