Shutter Speed for Creative Photography, Part Three (Guest Post)

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In my first post about shutter speed, I mentioned several reasons why it was important. I discussed that faster shutter speeds are more likely to create an image that isn’t blurry. The shutter speed is also one of the camera settings that dictate how much light gets through the lens to the sensor. The other setting is the aperture or f-stop selection of the lens that I will discuss in a future post.

It’s essential to regulate how much light reaches the sensor, because too much light will create an overexposure and not enough light will create an underexposure. Shutter speed controls how much light enters the lens by dictating how long the shutter is open. The longer the shutter is open, the more light will get into the sensor. This works about the same as a traffic light. Just as a longer green signal will allow more cars to pass through an intersection, a longer shutter speed allows more light into the camera.

Because long shutter speeds open and close slowly, they’re also known as slow shutter speeds. An example of a slow shutter speed would be 1/30th of a second or less. Shorter shutter speeds are also known as fast shutter speeds, because the shutter opens and closes quickly. An example of a fast shutter speed would be 1/800th of a second or faster.

Because fast shutter speeds don’t allow a lot of time for light to enter the camera, a photographer generally needs to be outdoors in bright conditions to use them. In low light situations, such as being indoors or outside on an overcast day, slow shutter speeds are required.

In my next post I’ll discuss how shutter speed works with the f-stop setting to achieve a correct exposure.

The Series:


  • You can see the effect that different shutter speeds have on the exposure of an image in the slideshow at the beginning of this article.
  • Meet e4e author, and professional photographer, Pat Mingarelli and read Pat’s posts on e4e.

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