This is my second week experimenting with my DSLR camera — I am learning how to actually use it beyond the point and click setting!

If you’re new to photography, I recommend starting with Aperture to get caught up to speed.  This week we will be talking about Shutter Speed!


As we learned last week, the most crucial element of capturing a truly good photograph is exposure.

Exposure is made up of three elements: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO!

What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed is the length of time that a camera’s shutter is open. 1 Along with Aperture, Shutter Speed determines the amount of light that will hit the film or sensor.

Shutter speed is expressed in fractions of a second.  For instance, 1/250 means one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second or four milliseconds

A fast shutter speed (i.e. 1/200) will result in a frozen image in time.  A slow shutter speed (i.e. 1) can show movement in the photograph.  If used properly, shutter speed can dramatically enhance the quality of your photographs!

How to set Shutter Speed:
First, set your White Balance and ISO to Auto. Each DSLR camera can vary, but most camera’s aperture settings are indicated with an “S”, “SV” or “TV”, but refer to your owner’s manual if you’re having trouble.  To select the mode, turn the mode dial to “S” “SV” or “TV” and through your viewfinder.
Canon Rebel t2i

Photo from Imaging Resource

In the SV or TV mode, aperture will adjust automatically, so the only thing to adjust is Shutter Speed.  Now look through your viewfinder. You’ll see a screen similar to the diagram below.  By adjusting the main command dial, you will be in control of adjusting Shutter Speed!

Canon rebel Viewfinder

Photo from Imaging Resource

Now that you know how to adjust your shutter speed, it’s time to get some practice! You can take pictures of things that move, such as a dripping faucet, a busy child, or a spinning quarter:

Shutter Speed by Homemadeforelle

Things to consider:

  • For slow shutter speeds, you will need a tri-pod.  Good photographs with movements require absolute stillness, and that can’t be accomplished by holding the camera.  
  • For fast shutter speeds, you may need to use the flash.  Because the shutter is only open for a fraction of a second, frequently it does not allow enough light in to get a good photograph.

You can see fast shutter speeds take quick picture to capture a still moment {1/200}.  Short shutter speeds allow you to capture movement in your picture {1/8}.  Pretty cool, right?!

If you want to capture rain drops, you’ll want a fast shutter setting (1/60+).  If you want to take picture of movement, like fireworks, you want a shutter setting slower (1/10 or slower).

Anxious to learn more? Check out:ISO

2Photography Life

*Post contains affiliate links*

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Posts may contain affiliate links, which helps me buy supplies to make more great posts to share! Please see my Disclaimer Section for additional information.
Share →

4 Responses to Shutter Speed

  1. […] the past month and a half, I have learned about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and Metering.  This week’s final lesson is on White Balance! I have to say, this was […]

  2. […] of my photos has vastly improved!! I also feel proud of myself when I manually adjust aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and manage to get a great photo.  It is much more rewarding than just pointing and […]

  3. Teresa says:

    How helpful. Im going to experiment. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *