There is a mechanical component in cameras called the shutter. It's like a little window that opens and closes when you press the shutter button on your camera. It's function, is to allow a certain amount of light into the camera based on time.
Shutter settings are represented in time. For example, you could have a 15" (15 second) shutter speed or a 1/160 (160th of 1 second) shutter speed.
Shutter speed will have two main functions to your photographs.
- Change the amount of light coming into the camera, based in time.
- Add motion blur, or freeze moving objects in place
A slow shutter speed and a fast shutter speed depends on your subject. If your subject is a really fast moving bird, you're going to want to shoot at a high shutter speed. The reason being is that you will likely want to capture the bird in flight, which is a very fast motion. A fast shutter speed will freeze the birds motions in place, and not create and blurriness.
Ever get those shaky looking photos? That's from a slow shutter speed. Sometimes a slow shutter speed is desired, and other times it is a necessity.
For example, you may wish to use a slow shutter speed to intentionally show motion in your subject. If you're like me, then maybe you want to show motion in water by shooting at a slower shutter speed.
In other cases, you may be required to use a slow shutter speed by seconds. This is called a long exposure and is used when you are photographing of the stars. If you are going to be shooting at a slow shutter speed, you absolutely must have your camera on a tripod, and preferably shooting with a wireless trigger. This is because any slight movement in the camera, even your finger gently pushing on the shutter button, can cause a slight movement which will be evident in the final photograph.
- Shutter speed controls the amount of light coming into the camera, based in time
- A slow shutter speed will allow more light to come into the camera
- A fast shutter speed will allow less light to come into the camera
- Shutter speed is represented in fractions of a second - 1/160 = 160th of 1 second
- Want to freeze a splash of water so that you can clearly see every single droplet? Use a fast shutter speed.
- Want to shoot the stars, or write your name with a sparkler? Use a slow shutter speed