Shutter speed is an easy concept to understand, but it can be a bit tricky to master.
Remember how ISO determines how quickly images imprint on your film (or digital “film”); and aperture determines how big of an opening your lens lets in light with? The last part of the photography puzzle is determining how long to open your camera’s shutter for. This is the series of “clicks” you hear when you take a photo.
So how do you set shutter speed on your camera?
In manual mode, this is the setting you will change by rolling the dial behind the shutter button.
To speed up your shutter, roll the dial to the right (which brings in less light). To slow down the shutter, roll it to the left (which brings in more light).
To determine if you need more or less speed, first set your ISO and aperture for your desired results (background clarity and digital noise taken care of).
Then, holding down the shutter button halfway, look through your viewfinder at the light meter (the long line at the bottom of the viewfinder with different marks along the line).
To get a perfectly exposed shot (or pretty close), you’ll want to roll the dial to get to the center line of the viewfinder’s light meter. This means your shot will not be under or over exposed. **There are some reasons you might need to adjust this, but that is for a different post.
There are also two settings you can use keep your shutter open even longer (for night shots, fireworks, etc):
B- or Bulb Mode- will leave your shutter open as long as the shutter button is held.
T- or Time Mode- leaves your shutter open until you press the button once more.
If using one of these modes, you should have your camera on a tripod, and I’d also recommend a remote so you don’t get a blurry shot.
This week’s homework: turn that pesky camera dial to M. Yes, you’re now ready to try out Manual mode! Sneaky, wasn’t I? Here you just thought you were learning about ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed individually. The thing is, once you’ve mastered those YOU ARE SHOOTING MANUAL!
Pat yourself on the back. And pour yourself a big, stiff drink (or have an ice cream sundae), because the hard work comes next: putting it all together. You’re not going to master this overnight- but you’ll get really good, really fast if you set up a few shots and just go through everything. Change your aperture up and down. Find one you like. Then change your shutter speed. Note how clicks sound faster or slower. Move to an object in brighter sun, then inside the house. Note the changes in speeds that you will need; and how you will also need to pick higher or lower ISO and aperture to get a shot you love.
Don’t judge yourself on what comes out of the camera. Just take a TON of pictures and fiddle with the settings. Take the time to see what the camera did with each setting you change. Then go ahead and delete them if you don’t like them. This is practice!!
Next week we are going to go over an easy step by step list to shooting in manual! Who’s excited?!