Understanding Shutter Speed

While using a DSLR camera, every one of us comes across a situation where we get blurred hands, faces of the people in the frame. Have you been losing your mind on figuring out what is the cause of this anomaly? I can understand that it can truly be irritating and having gone through it myself, it is a phase every budding photographer has to go through!

The primary culprit responsible for such disturbances is the Shutter Speed. It is one of the main elements to consider and fix before clicking a photo – you can read about it in my earlier article – ABCs of DSLR. The DSLR (based on the photo mode) automatically calculates the time it requires to capture enough light through the sensor to create a photograph. During twilight or indoors, given that the light would be lower, the DSLR makes an effort to main lengthen the time the shutter is open. This is the primary reason behind the DSLR unable to freeze motion, which in turn gives us blurry movements. In some creative images, some photographers employ this blurry effect to create an image giving an additional punch to the photograph.

Shutter speeds are measured in seconds and are denoted as 1/10, 1/20, 1/60 and so on, where it represents 1/10th, 1/20th, 1/60th of a second. A simple maths rule would denote that 1/60th of a second would be faster than a 1/10th shutter speed. Shutter speeds can go as fast as 1/4000, used for sports and as slow as much you want, in minutes, used primarily for Star trails and Milky way.

Clicked at 1/125 (Slower)
Clicked at 1/200

In this example here, my mischevious nephew is jumping around where I get a chance to shoot at glory. These pictures were taken within the same minute, so there would be very minimal changes to the available light. However, you can notice the blurry caused in the first photo as its a slower shutter speed at 1/125 as compared to the next one which is at 1/200. You should also notice that as I increased the shutter speed by 3-4 stops, the light entering the DSLR reduced and the image shot at 1/200 is darker.

Light, is the primary variable factor and will be indicative of the shutter speed that the DSLR will choose to capture the photograph. While choosing to photograph, take a rough estimate of the light availability and if lower you can choose to add light through artificial light or change other parameters in the camera like ISO, aperture, and Exposure. These changes in other parameters, however, also impact the photo and have to be used convincingly.

A popular method to use higher shutter speeds is by using artificial lights like studio probes or softboxes (will talk about them in later posts) and natural light can be amplified using reflectors.

Some creative photographers use slow shutter speeds to create beautiful images like this one from Lincoln Harrison

Image Credit: www.lincolnharrison.com

Pro Tip: To ensure you have a blur-free photo, ensure you have the shutter speed higher or equal to the focal length you are at. For e.g. if you are using a 105 mm lens, use a shutter speed higher than 1/105.

I hope this short article has helped clear some of your doubts regarding shutter speed. Leave comments on what you think about the article and share if you think someone would find this helpful!

Signing off,

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