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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Shutter Control

What does that "S" mode stand for?
Shutter Priority. It is a great function for situations where you want to control the shutter speed, but let your camera handle the rest of the settings. Almost ALL DSLR cameras, and many Point and Shoot or Bridge camera's have some form of "S" mode. Typically this is found on the dial next to your P, A, and M.

I have talked about some other modes to use to control your shutter, but we haven't really dived into "S".

So, what is Shutter Speed.

Simple. It is the speed at which your shutter opens and closes.

Perhaps the better question to start with is What is a Shutter?

Remember you old school film camera, the film went in the back and there was the "soft spot" in the middle that you never wanted to put your fingers in... and most of you did anyways. This is your shutter... here is what it looks like close up.

The shutter sits between your lens, and your film... or your sensor chip these days. It moves out of the way opening to expose the sensor to your scene and thus creating your image. How long that shutter stays open has a direct effect on exposure of your image. I like to think of the shutter as the eyelid of your camera... if the aperture is the iris that moves larger or smaller to allow more or less light in, the shutter controls HOW LONG the light comes in... and the sensor would be the brain capturing the image. As we know from previous lessons 3 things control your exposure. (How MUCH light, How LONG your sensor is allowed to see that light, and How SENSITIVE your sensor is to that light)

So, why would you want to control the amount of time your camera sees a scene? 
Have you ever taken an image of someone waving? Was their hand blurry or clear? This has everything to do with your shutter speed.

TIP: Shutter speed is measured in seconds – or in most cases fractions of seconds. The bigger the denominator the faster the speed (ie 1/1000 is much faster than 1/100).
A shutter speed of 1/100th of a second is better for shooting HIGH speed, such as action, sports, waving hands... because it stops the action.. it is open for such a small amount of time that it appears you have frozen the movement.Where if you take the same image with a shutter speed of 1/100 it could still appear blurry.
Shutter Priority setting 1/100
 Here is my fan this morning... as you can tell the blades are moving along at a pretty good clip, seeing as how its already above 80 and its not quite 7am yet.

Note: The yellow is due to not using a flash. The light available from the ceiling fan is simply producing the yellow light, I choose not to WB or adjust anything else so we would have a baseline image as we move forward.

Shutter Priority setting 1/1000

Now it looks like the fan is turned off, right? It's not! My shutter simple opened and closed so fast that it "froze" that action.

So when would you use Shutter Priority?

When you want to stop action... such as sports, cars moving, babies moving, birds in flight, butterfly or humming bird wings... these are all calling out for a high shutter speed.

When you want to SHOW movement. Crazy idea, right? But think about it... what is the most beautiful image of a waterfall? The one where its all blending together and looks magically smooth... That's done by blurring the motion, leaving the shutter open for a longer amount of time. What about shooting your holiday photos? What if you want to show that the hummingbird was really flying when you took the image? You want it to be clear, but the wings to show motion. It helps to tell your story.

Now, this is where things get tricky... the longer you leave the shutter open the more things can go wrong for you. Even if you can hold your hands steady, you might pick up what is called motion blur or camera shake, from you breathing or moving the camera ever so slightly. The solution. TRIPOD or MONOPOD. If you plan on doing long shutter photography, like night skys, lighting or even holiday lights, putting your camera on a steady surface and not touching it is your friend!

With the 4th of July coming up.... I bet you know why this was on my mind! FIREWORKS, Baby! Controlling your shutter means you can show the movement in the fall! But remember, a TRIPOD needs to be used so you don't blur the image by holding your camera!

Happy 4th and Happy Shooting!!!!

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