Monthly Archive for June, 2006

Digital Photography 101: Shutter Speed

This is part four of a series of articles I’m writing about digital photography, as I learn more about it. You can find links to the other articles at the bottom of this one.

Any camera has a shutter, and that shutter is the “curtain” that covers your film, and either a) keeps light from hitting the film, or b) opens to let light hit your film.

In the digital world, your film isn’t really film, but it acts the same, and your shutter operates just like it would on a non-digital film camera. What’s important about the shutter is it’s speed.

Shutter Speeds are usually denoted on your camera as fractions or real numbers: 1/800, 1/600, 1/400, 1/250, 1/200, 1/125, 1/60, 1/15, 1/10, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 20, 30.

A faster shutter speed lets less light hit your film than a slower shutter speed. For example, if your shutter speed is “1/125” that means the shutter will be open for one one-hundred and twenty fifth of a second. A shutter speed of “1/60” is one sixtieth of a second, and “1” is one full second, and “30” is 30 seconds.

Shutter speed, combined with film speed and aperture, will give you an exposure.

To get a perfect exposure, your aperture and shutter speed must be aligned.

That means the bigger your aperture, the faster your shutter speed, and the smaller your aperture, the slower your shutter speed. (Remember: smaller aperture = less light hitting the film, thus a slower shutter = more light hitting the film.)

Aperture and shutter speed must balance to get a well exposed photo.

Also, a faster shutter speed typically means a “frozen” scene or photograph, whereas a slower shutter speed will allow the photo or subjects in the photo to blur. For example, this photo of my son, is a little blurry, but well lit, because I had a relatively slow shutter speed programmed (1/10th of a second). And this photo of a bug on a flower is very sharp, because I had a fast shutter speed (1/1000th of a second). And lastly, the photo below is sharp, only because I mounted the camera on a tripod, but the shutter speed is very long (30 seconds) due to the low light levels outside at night:

Goodnight St. George

With most DSLR cameras these days, you can shoot in “Shutter Priority” mode, meaning that you want the camera to always shoot at 1/60th of a second, and let the camera’s AI figure out if the aperture should be big or small, so you get the proper exposure. I find if I’m shooting inside with or without a flash and ISO 400 or ISO 800 film, and shooting in Shutter Priority mode, 1/60 is the right setting for sharp photos that are exposed enough to fix later with Photoshop, as long as I’m shooting RAW.

Just remember: shutter speed control gives you two things: sharp or blurry images, and lots of light, or less light, depending on the settings.

And combined with the aperture setting, shutter speed is the second piece to getting a good exposure. We’ll go over exposure in the next article.

Here are a few links to some other articles you might want to read on shutter speeds:

Other articles in this series:

And you can browse the rest of the Photography + Video category on this site for more links to relevant content.

losing an aquaintance

I read Michael Bartosh Passes by TUAW today, and I though “man, that sucks.” Back when I helped run MacNN I used to call Michael every month or so, to learn what was new with Apple. At least that’s what I was trying to learn… typically, Michael would tell me he didn’t know, or couldn’t tell me, and then we’d talk about other stuff. Michael had gone to school at the same school I was at, and had gone to work for Apple at a really young age, cause he was one of those really smart people that Apple needed… he never had a huge role at Apple while I knew him, but he was a great guy that contributed where and when he could. It’s sad to hear that he’s gone, and at such a young age.

Useless Facts

Useless Facts: 349. A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.


How to Shoot Impromptu Street Portraits

How to Shoot Impromptu Street Portraits


Get rid of Thumbs.db

Get rid of Thumbs.db – I hate Thumbs.db.


Busier than shit

So life has been keeping me busier than shit lately. Sorry folks, that’s just the truth of it.

I’ve actually got about 4 or 5 good posts about half written, but none ready to post.

Long story short, I’m running a company now, and it’s in an industry that’s new to me, even though I’ve been “in it” for the past 15 years… Yes, I can hear BNL singing “everything old is new again” when I typed that.

It’s an invigorating time for me, and I’m loving it, but the blog is suffering. Hopefully that’ll change in a week or two.