Shutter speed, along with aperture and ISO, is one of the three pillars of exposure (the “Exposure Triangle”) in photography. The camera shutter is a curtain that opens and closes to expose light onto the camera sensor. When you press the shutter release button on your camera, the shutter opens for a fraction of a second to allow just enough light to hit your camera’s sensor for an optimal exposure. In photography, shutter speed is determined in fractions of a second, with higher shutter speeds denoted by smaller fractions (1/60th of a second vs 1/2000th). A long exposure can be achieved by keeping the shutter open anywhere from seconds to minutes. A short shutter speed allows you to freeze fast-moving action or to use a wide aperture when shooting in bright conditions. You can get creative with long exposures by taking pictures of moving objects, car trails at night or streaking waterfalls. The key takeaway here is simple: know your subject and plan out your shots before dropping thousands of dollars on expensive gear.


Shutter speed, along with aperture and ISO, is a part of the so-called “Exposure Triangle”.

Shutter speed, along with aperture and ISO, is a part of the so-called “Exposure Triangle”.

The shutter controls how long your camera's sensor will be exposed to light to make an image. The exposure value of a single shot is determined by these three variables:

  • Aperture (f-stops)
  • Shutter Speed (time)
  • ISO Setting


The camera shutter is a curtain that opens and closes to expose light onto the camera sensor.

Shutter speed, like aperture and ISO, is one of the three major components that determine exposure.

Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. For example, 1/60th of a second means that the shutter opens for 1/60th of a second every time you press the shutter button. This translates to 60 specific frames per second (fps). The more often you press it, the faster your shutter speed gets.

The length of time your camera's shutter remains open affects how much light reaches its sensor: The longer it remains open, the more light will enter; the shorter it remains open, the less light will enter.


In photography, shutter speed is determined in fractions of a second, with higher shutter speeds denoted by smaller fractions (1/60th of a second vs 1/2000th).

In the photography world, there are three main factors that determine exposure: shutter speed, aperture size (or f-stop), and ISO sensitivity.

If you have ever taken a picture with your phone or point-and-shoot camera, you may have noticed that as you adjust these settings on your screen, they affect each other. For example, raising the f-stop will make it harder for light to reach the camera sensor, while increasing the ISO will make it easier for light to reach said sensor but at the cost of producing more digital noise. All three variables must be considered together in order to get an accurate representation of what's in front of you—your goal is to account for all lighting conditions so that when viewed on screen or paper later on down the line, what gets displayed looks recognizable as what was actually there when taking said picture!


A long exposure can be achieved by keeping the shutter open anywhere from seconds to minutes.

Long exposure photography is a popular technique that can be used to capture light and motion in a single image. The longer the shutter is open, the more time your camera has to soak up light from its surroundings; this means that you’re able to create images that look like they have been taken during daytime, but were actually taken at night!


In order for long exposures to work properly with your camera, you will need an ND filter (neutral density) so that you can keep your aperture open for longer periods of time without overexposing everything in your shot.


A short shutter speed allows you to freeze fast-moving action or to use a wide aperture when shooting in bright conditions.

A short shutter speed allows you to freeze fast-moving action or to use a wide aperture when shooting in bright conditions. A fast shutter speed can be used for any subject that moves quickly, from cars and people, to birds and aircraft. It’s also useful for capturing waterfalls and streams where the flow of the water is smooth—you don’t want any blurring of the droplets as they fall towards their destination.


A slow shutter speed allows you to capture movement over a longer period of time, so it's perfect for still life shots like flowers or cityscapes at night; both require light trails rather than sharp images.


You can get creative with long exposures by taking pictures of moving objects, car trails at night or streaking waterfalls.

Long exposures are a great way to create unique images by capturing light sources and movement. You can use it to capture streaks of light from car headlights or even trails left by stars in the night sky. This can be done without any special equipment, but you need some patience as it could take several minutes for long exposures.


The following are just a few examples of what you can achieve with this technique:

  • Light painting - Painting or drawing with lights or lasers during a long exposure will result in interesting effects depending on what colors and intensity you choose. The longer your shutter speed, the more detailed your final image will be!
  • Motion blur - Moving subjects such as cars, people walking down streets at night will appear blurred when captured during an exposure longer than 1/30th second due to motion blur which occurs when objects move faster than our eyes can see them (known as hyperfocal distance).


Know your subject and plan out your shots before dropping a lot of money on expensive camera gear.

Knowing what you're doing with your shutter speed is not about knowing how to set it on your camera. It's about knowing how to use it in concert with other settings to create the shot you want.


Before you start spending money on expensive gear, make sure that you know your subject and lighting conditions, as well as what other options are available in terms of camera settings (aperture and ISO) and lens selection (speed). Then plan out your shots before hand so that when it comes time for execution, all of this information will be fresh in your mind. Plan out everything: budgeting for equipment purchases; scheduling time at locations; choosing appropriate lenses and filters; making sure that everyone involved understands their roles (for example, if someone has a special skill set or if somebody needs direction); knowing what types of subjects are best suited for this type of photo shoot or whether there should be any restrictions placed on these shoots (such as where they will take place).

Knowledgeable photographers know exactly how long each part takes—whether it's setting up the lights or waiting around while they charge up—and they figure out ways around problems like low battery power by bringing extra backup batteries along with them everywhere they go!


Shutter speed refers to the amount of time your camera shutter is open while taking an image.

Shutter speed refers to the amount of time your camera shutter is open while taking an image. A fast shutter speed means your shutter opens for less time, allowing less light into the camera than a slow shutter speed does. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, so it’s not something you can easily relate to — but it does determine how much motion blur there will be in your photos, as well as create other creative effects like “dragging” water or fire (which we’ll discuss below).


As you’ve seen, there are many ways to use shutter speed in your photography. By simply adjusting your camera settings, you can shift the mood of an image completely. Whether it’s freezing a fleeting moment or capturing the smooth motion of a river at night, there are no limits when it comes to using shutter speed creatively! Before you get too into the nitty-gritty details, though, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the basics of DSLR photography. In order to understand shutter speeds and what they do for your images, it helps to know how cameras work and how light plays a role in exposure as well as composition. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or take any fancy classes before starting out—but once again, practice makes perfect!

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