Lesson 3 – shutter speed

Life Through a Lens


Shutter speed is the nominal time for which a camera’s shutter is open for a given setting. (ref: google) It is one of the three facets which makes up the ‘triangle’ of photography, the other two being aperture and ISO. Shutter speed is measured in seconds or fractions of a second e.g. 1/100 or, one one–hundredth of a second; would be how long the shutter would open and allow the light in. Leave it open too long, too much light enters and your photo will be over–exposed and the whites will be over pronounced or washing out the scene. The same is true in reverse, if you do not set a long enough shutter speed, your photograph is dark, dull and more prone to blurring due to movement and camera shake.

These truths can also be used in a way that is advantageous to the photographer, for example; a longer shutter speed with the appropriate settings will allow you to effectively illustrate the movement of a car, or turn a boring scene such as a man crossing the street into a fascinating abstract. You can also use an extremely low shutter speed of ten seconds or more, to capture the light paintings from an iPhone in a dark room. A very high shutter speed on the other hand can be used to capture a millisecond, allowing us to see the wonders in a frozen moment that the human eye in real time is ill equipped to translate.

Again this lesson was a bit challenging for me, firstly because of the bloody Sydney rain which has barely stopped since the day I arrived here, (which I overcame by using the glad bag out of my packed lunch as a makeshift camera raincoat) but more so because of the fact that I do not yet know anyone from school and found myself flying solo again. This meant that I had to look for examples of movement in the urban environment and ask strangers to pose for me instead of taking action shots of my classmates which would have been fun… However overcoming these challenges gave me an opportunity to capture some perspectives that I might not have otherwise and I am quite pleased with the results, in particular the water shots as it is probably my favourite subject matter.


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