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Portraits: Making the Shot is bursting at the seams with practical and down to earth portrait photography advice, tips and imagery. It has been created to do one thing, transform your dull and lifeless pictures of people into beautiful works of art.
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Everything about Shutter Speed

The second way that you can control the exposure on your images will be the shutter speed. Digital shutter speed is almost exactly what it sounds like. This control will affect just how fast the shutter on your camera opens and closes whenever it snaps a picture. If you have an SLR camera, you will actually be able to hear an audible difference between a fast and a slow shutter.

Basically, you can have a great deal of control over the exposure to your image through digital shutter speed. When you allow the shutter speed to be very slow, a great deal more light will be allowed onto the image. If you are taking a picture indoors or in any darker situation, you will need as much light as possible, so you will need a slow shutter speed. If you are taking pictures in a particularly bright situation, you will need a fast shutter speed. If too much light is allowed in, you will end up with a washed out or blown out image.

Your camera can control the digital shutter speed for you if you would like, but if you want to take better images, then you need to take that control into your own hands. Generally, you will find a small wheel or dial on the back of your camera. When you turn that dial, you will see on the screen that the shutter speed will change. This makes it easy to change the speed from one picture to another.

Important Note: Here is something you need to think about when you use a slow shutter speed. Remember that this means that the lens will be open for longer. Not only does this allow more light in, but it also takes longer for the picture to imprint. When the shutter speed is slow, anything that moves in the frame will be blurry. Only use very slow shutter speeds if you are taking pictures of something that is very still. You can get better slow speed images if you use a tripod.

Alternatively, if you use a high digital shutter speed, you can take in motion pictures and actually freeze time. High shutter speeds are useful if you are taking sports or action pictures, such as a horse jumping a fence or your new puppy playing with a chew toy.

High shutter speed of 1/500s freezes horse in action


Real Life Example: Have you ever seen those pictures of streams, rivers or waterfalls where the water looks frozen? This is achieved with a high shutter speed. Then, some pictures make the water look softly blurred like you can feel its motion. If you slow down the shutter speed, you can make this happen.

On many digital cameras, you will have different modes that you can set your camera to. These were mentioned in lesson one and you will see them on the dial on top of your camera. Your camera may not have these, and if not, do not worry. However, if you look at that dial and you see an “A” or an “S”, these are modes that you can use to your advantage. The “A” stands for Aperture Priority Mode and the “S” stands for Shutter Speed Priority Mode. When you use these modes on your camera, the camera will automatically put the focus on pinpointing the perfect shutter speed or aperture for the image.

If you change your camera mode to “M” for manual, then you will have complete and absolute control over all of the settings, including aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These settings are not necessarily easy to learn. If you start working with them, do not get frustrated if your images do not turn out well. Truly, this kind of control over your photography is trial and error to learn how to use it. Consider taking some time to just practice with each of the controls individually before you start trying to tweak each part of the picture.


Blurred and grainy image due to high ISO and slow shutter speed (1/8s)

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