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Basics Of Shutter Speed!

Article By – Chinar Tekchandani & Apurv Jadhav

The nominal time for which the shutter is open at a given setting is known as shutter speed. In other words, it is the duration of time for which the camera sensor is exposed.

Shutter speed is calculated in seconds, in a lot of cases, it is even calculated in fractions of seconds. Basically cameras have a shutter speed range of 30 seconds to 1/4000th of a second. 

To understand this concept better, let’s understand what an “exposure triangle” is. An exposure triangle controls the light. It consists of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. The sensitivity of your camera to the light is decided by the camera setting. Aperture decides the amount of light that is allowed to hit the image sensor and shutter speed determines the period in which the ISO and aperture function. Shutter speed is also known as exposure time.


There are two types of shutter speed: 


Slow shutter speed 

Images that show fast-moving objects blurred are usually the ones with a motion blur effect. This effect can be produced by keeping the shutter speed slower than the object’s moving speed. When the motion blur is more, the amount of light reaching the sensor is also more and this makes the image overexposed. This effect is very useful to display motion or emotions. In broad daylight, a slower shutter speed may overexpose the image to an extent that the meaning may not be conveyed at all. In such a case, the aperture can be reduced to decrease the amount of light that is reaching the sensor. ISO can also be reduced in this case or an ND filter can be used.

Image credit : PrithviRaj Banerjee


Fast shutter speed

A faster shutter speed is used in cases where you want to freeze the motion in an image. In these cases, the shutter speed should be more than the speed of the subject. A good example of this would be capturing raindrops. The ISO or the aperture can be increased to add more light to the image if required. 

Image Credit : Atulya Mahajan


How should one decide the shutter speed?

For shots like panning of vehicle, motion-blurred images of waterfalls (to make the water look silky smooth or star trail photography, one can use slow shutter speed. Fast shutter speed should be used for shots where one needs to freeze the motion of flying birds, or in sports photography.

Now that you have an idea about which type of photographs need slow and fast shutter speeds, let’s move forward to the point one should consider while selecting the ideal shutter speed for a specific shot. 

  • Analyse and figure out if the subject is stationary. 
  • Analyse the stability of your camera. 
  • Decide or try to imagine the kind of effect you want to create concerning the shutter speed. 
  • Decide or try to imagine the intensity of the effect you wish to create. 
  • Analyse the amount of light available and try to balance the exposure triangle. 
Image Credit : Atulya Mahajan

We hope you find this article useful and get creative to create meaningful and artistic images using the shutter speed.

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