4. Shutter Speed and the Holy Trinity of photogrpahy

Hi there all…today the final part of the basics, shutter speed…
Shutter speed, as the name suggests is how fast or how slow the shutter will open up and close down. Lower the shutter speed, slower is the shutter movement and hence more time for the sensor to gather light.
The speed is denoted by notations like 1/250, 1/500 ranging upto 1/4000 commonly, upto 1/16000 are also found in very high end models. And on the slower side, speeds go 1/10, 1/2, 1′, 10′ generally up to 30′ and then there is a “bulb” mode. In the bulb mode, the shutter will remain open as long as the shutter button is pressed, no time limit to it.
Please note, 1/250 means, shutter will remain open for 1/250th of a second. Similarly, with a shutter speed of 2′, the shutter will remain open for 2 seconds. A faster shutter speed will allow you to freeze motion, make your photos less susceptible to camera shake and other disturbances while a slower one will allow you to show motion in form of trails, or ghost images.

     1/20     1/125     1/320

Now that we know the 3 basic pillars of making of a photo, namely, ISO-Aperture-Shutter Speed, we must now understand how these three are related. Let me explain below.

Assumption: we want a properly exposed, unblurred and negligibly noisy photo

1. With increase in shutter speed, chances of blurry image is less, and also the amount of light available decreases. So, for a properly exposed photo, we need to either slow down the shutter speed, or open up the aperture or increase the ISO.
We try opening up the aperture to the maximum to let in more light and also, we increase the ISO setting to make the sensor sensitive…then, the limiting factors become, how much DOF do you want, and how much noise can your camera handle.
For settings where you control the shutter speed and let the camera handle the rest, switch to the Shutter Priority mode, denoted by the “S” button on the dial in Nikon Cameras.

2. With a wide aperture, you get ample light to work with, but a very shallow DOF. Suppose you want a deeper depth, you ll need to stop down the aperture a few stops. This, in turn causes the light available to decrease, and hence, the need arises to lower the shutter speed or increase the ISO. As stated earlier, lower shutter speed will cause blurriness due to camera shake and higher ISO will cause noise. Hence, the limiting factor basically becomes, how slow shutter speed can the lens accommodate with the Vibration Reduction (VR) systems and/or how steady your hand is.
For settings, where you control only the aperture, switch to the “A” (Aperture Priority) mode in Nikon Cameras.

3. There will be conditions, where the aperture value is maxed out, and the shutter speed is as slow as feasible and still not enough light, that is when we need to increase the ISO out of compulsion, in my opinion that is. The sensor becomes more sensitive and we get better exposure, but the chance of a grainy pic is always there.
For this mode, where you get to change only the ISO, dial in to the “P” (Program Auto) mode in Nikon Cameras.

These modes are tried and tested over the years of SLR history and they deliver impeccable results with an appreciative hit rate, its a huge advantage to know how they work. But then, there are those, who want to have total control over the Trinity. If you are amongst those who are not afraid to take complete control of your camera, have a lot of misses and very few hits initially, learn to read the photo histograms, understand the range finder and then take a shot…then switch to the Manual mode, “M” on the Nikon bodies. As an afterthought, sooner or later, you will have to shift to the Manual mode to grow…so I ll suggest, get friendly with the Manual mode early on, but do know the quick settings that might be handy in a jiffy.

Once you get cool with the modes, shots like these, are going to be easy.

  15s  1/250

1/200

Next up, the first photo effect and some shots of a very common and very beautiful, Bokkeh!

Cheers!

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