Your relationship with your camera is just like any other. It takes time to get to know it. You need to work out how it thinks and what it likes and dislikes. And if you work hard you’ll get better results than you did before. The advantage of the relationship with your camera over other relationships is, when you’re frustrated with it, you can shut it in a bag!
One book I think both Shelley and I would recommend is Brian Peterson’s “Understanding Exposure”. It’s a great start to grasping the concepts, with fabulous illustrations. A copy is available in our local libraries and most bookstores will have it. In the meantime, over the next few weeks, we’re going to be your relationship counselors, guiding you through this new partnership.
Exposure is the foundation of photography. It is made up of 3 parts, often referred to as the exposure triangle. These are
- Shutter Speed
- Aperture &
We’re going to cover each one in a separate post but today I’m just going to look at Shutter Speed.
I found this great cheat card that you can print out and put in your camera bag to help you remember how each aspect works. It can be found here for free download.
Shutter Speed is basically the length of time the shutter is open, and the length of time the film or digital sensor is exposed to light. Sometimes it’s called the exposure time.
It is expressed as a fraction of a second. For example the blurry image of the running guy, on the far right of the diagram above , shows a shutter speed of ½ a second. If you think about it, imagining yourself taking a shot, holding the camera still for ½ a second is almost impossible. Then have your child running about – every image would be blurry! This is a great if you are wanting to capture motion in your image. But if you want to freeze their action you need that shutter to be open for less time, and the picture taken with a faster shutter speed.
Look at the diagram. You can see the image is a little blurry until you get to 1/500 of a second. Some photographers say 1/250 is the starting point for capturing motion but personally 1/500 is what I find works for me consistently.
Sometimes you might want to have a longer shutter speed to capture blurry motion. You will no doubt have seen this in artistic shots of waterfalls. It’s hard to handhold the camera for these shots though, and you will often need a tripod. Personally I can’t successfully handhold the camera less than 1/30 of a second.
So, get out your camera. And your manual if you need it. There are 2 ways to start playing with your shutter speeds, manual mode or shutter priority. I suggest you start with shutter priority. This allows you to change the shutter speed and the camera will work out the other 2 aspects to achieve a perfect exposure. Use your manual to find how to change to shutter priority and work out which dial changes the shutter speed, if you don’t know already.
Now start practicing!
Here’s some examples I shot this morning. My daughter spun the umbrella and I took a few shots at different shutter speeds.
Have fun playing with your camera and getting to know it better. And then share your results with us! We love to see your pictures.
Good luck with your new relationship. We’re always here for guidance. 😉