Exposure: Shutter Speed

What Is Shutter Speed?

We are talking about the three elements in the exposure triangle. We discussed aperture and now we will talk about shutter speed. As I just mentioned in the aperture section, shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open. Shutter speed is measured in seconds or fractions of seconds. And the bigger the denominator (the number below the fraction) the faster the shutter speed. For example 1/3000 is a lot faster than 1/30. Having a slow shutter speed like 1/30 or slower will get you some blur in your pictures. If you take pictures of cars or people moving with a slow shutter speed then you will get blurred cars and blurred people. Also when people use a slow shutter speed, they may get camera shake and camera shake is when the picture looks all blurred because of the natural movements or shaking of any person taking a picture. When taking pictures at a slow shutter speed you need a tripod or any other base that can hold the camera completely free from shaking or any other movements.

Shutter Speed Options

Cameras have several options for shutter speed. Many cameras give you slower options than a second. Perhaps 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or even a minute. Other cameras have the B option or “bulb” option which lets you keep the shutter open for as long as you have the shutter button pressed down. So I could just stay there for 5 minutes or for a lot more pressing that button while the picture is being taken.
See this picture for example. It was taken completely at night except for the car lights. It was taken with the bulb option.

Picture of trees taken with a long shutter speed option at night

Measuring Shutter Speed (sort of)

Usually pictures taken faster than 1/60, or perhaps 1/120 are the ones that you also will be shooting in the most common scenarios. However, if you have telephoto lenses, you will need to increase the shutter speed too or use a tripod. Have you ever tried to look through some binoculars without shaking or moving too much? That’s how it is with a telephoto. Everything looks shakier when using telephoto lenses.

And that’s it, we talked about shutter speed, now let’s talk about the last part of the exposure triangle, the ISO.


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