Introduction to Digital Photography PART 3

night-viewIn Part 2 we had a close look at the first manual setting “aperture” and how to use it easily. In Part 3 we will examine the second important variable that determines the amount of light that reaches the sensor of the camera. I am referring, of course, to shutter speed.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is simply the speed with which the shutter opens and closes. The slower the shutter speed the longer the shutter stays open and the more light can pass through.

To give you an idea: A shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second is considered very fast. A shutter speed of 1 second is considered very slow.

The longer the shutter stays open the more difficult it becomes to create a sharp image. The slightest movement of the object or the camera itself will result in some blur. Because humans find it very difficult to keep their hands completely still, it is advised not to use a shutter speed of less than 1/60 of a second for any hand held photos.

However, if you wish to create a special effect you can force the shutter to stay open for as long as you want – even for several hours.

When you are using the manual settings of your camera you need to decide on both aperture and shutter speed. You will need to practice and Digital cameraexperiment with different combinations of settings to get a good feeling for the camera and its’ potential.

Many cameras come with a semi-automated function. Instead of having to set both values (aperture and shutter speed) you can choose one of them and set it manually. The camera will then automatically calculate and set the other variable to its’ optimum value. Using this semi-automated mode and comparing the results to the fully manual results can help to accelerate your learning curve.

In addition, many cameras also have a number of different preset modes such as outdoor mode or portrait mode etc. These modes are simply certain preset aperture/shutter speed combinations to help you take great pictures.

Learning how to effectively use the manual settings for aperture and shutter speed will take some time and practice. When you have mastered them, however, you will be able to better pictures.

This concludes Part 3 of our “Introduction to Digital Photography”. In our next post we will examine how you need to prepare your digital camera if you want to take great action shots.