Understanding Shutter Speed

If you are just starting photography you’re probably wondering what shutter speed is and what kind of effects you can create with it.

You have to think of the shutter in terms of time. The shutter is that click you hear when you take a photo. Depending on what you have it set to, the shutter can click incredibly fast or incredibly slow.

You can create all kinds of interesting effects by changing the shutter speed.

Here is how to use it.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is measured in seconds and fractions of seconds. For example, the shutter can be held open for up to 30 seconds or in some cases indefinitely. It can also be set to as fast as 1/6000 of a second in some cameras.

So what’s the purpose of shooting with a fast or slow shutter?

Fast Shutter Speed 

Like I said earlier, when you think of shutter speed, you have to think in terms of time. When you shoot with a fast shutter, you literally freeze time. 

For example. If you’re trying to capture something that is moving very fast like someone running or maybe you want to capture the droplets of water from a waterfall. You would shoot at a fast shutte.

Slow Shutter Speed

A slow shutter is great for other special effects such as blurring the water from a waterfall or capture a car streaking by. You can also capture light trials from fireworks or other lights.

Shutter Speed Effects Light

Something to keep in mind though with shutter is that, the faster it is the less light comes into that camera’s sensor. The slower it is the more light that comes int the camera’s sensor.

So when your shooting you’ll need to have a good balance of the other settings, ISO and aperture to keep the exposure correct.  

Knowing this, now I bet you know how to capture the stars. Set your camera on a tripod and set the shutter to something like 15 seconds and see what you can capture.


Playing around with the shutter is so much fun and it opens up a whole world of possibilities.

If you would like to learn more about shutter speed and all of the other settings, sign up for my free Photography Secrets course!

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