What is shutter speed?


Song of Seagulls


Throughout my photographic profession, I have learned to enjoy nature more. On this occasion, the sharp singing of the seagull. This experience was beautiful, the flock were almost endless, one after another. At first, I was scared, thinking that

something bad was happening, but no. The singing of the seagulls in the evening hours is to hold their flock together as they fly and find shelter to spend the night. Image captured on Antelope Island.

My name is Ana Sosa, and I am a professional photographer. I love to scrutinize all things and now with God's help I will help you understand with practical examples and simple words the shutter speed of your camera.

Shutter speed

In my professional career, I remember the time it takes me to understand the settings of my digital camera. And that is why I do not intend to confuse you with technical words.

What is shutter speed?

Shutter speed is the time the camera shutter will be open. The shutter opens and closes each time a photo is taken, and it's the little click you hear when you take each photo.

When you take a photo in manual mode, you talk about ISO, focus and shutter speed, the famous shooting triangle. Each of them allows light to pass through the lens to the camera in a different way, so you get the effect you want in your photos.

For me, one of the most important is the shutter speed, since with this you control a lot the sharpness in your photographs. Experts tell you to use it when you want to freeze the movement of the subject to be photographed.

In the photograph of "Song of the seagulls" we managed to freeze the movement of the birds in full flight, thanks to the shutter speed. In this photo, we use 1/640 seconds.

As the photographic shot was for a landscape-photo, I used F/11 because it is the intermediate focus of my camera and finally, I adjusted the ISO to the balance indicated by the camera (+/-)

What is the perfect shutter speed setting?

I remember that, to get to know and become familiar with my camera, I did some exercises that were very valuable, and the goal was to know the shutter speed of my camera.

All brands, from what I've heard, work differently; although it shouldn't be, because the shutter speed is marked in thousandths of a second. And 1 thousandth of a second is the same speed time all over the world.

The exercise consisted of taking a photo session of my pet in motion, for which I changed the shutter speed in each photo session. I started with the slowest ones until I got to the fastest ones. I explain now:

Slow shutter speed:

As an illustration, a nomenclature equal to 1/3s is slow, it means that the shutter will be open for a longer time (1/3 of a second, that is, the second is divided into 3 and it takes only 1 of them for the shot) This shutter speed will allow more light to enter the camera and, since it is a slow speed, will make moving objects appear with trepidation.

Fast shutter speed:

A nomenclature 1/640s is fast, it means that the shutter will be open for less time, (1/640 of a second, that is, the second is divided into 640 parts and takes 1 of the 640 for the photographic shot) in this sense little will enter light and freeze motion; but you will have to balance the entrance of light with the other allies of the triangle.

On my Sony camera, the slowest speed is 30”. These speeds are less than a thousandth of a second, and to use them you need the help of a tripod, they gradually rise until they reach 1/8000

“Song of Seagulls” was a handheld shot, and it was possible to shoot because I knew the shutter speed performance of my camera. That is why I encourage you to practice with your camera. In the next blog, I'll be writing more about shutter speed, and I'll bring you other photograph examples.


Ana Sosa

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