Shutter on a camera what does it do

In gear, Tutorial by Bob Wild

Most present day digital camera’s from the basic point-and-shoot to the very advanced DSLRs use shutters, its a basic part of the camera. Some Point and shoot camera’s may have a fixed shutter speed but the more advanced cameras have a variable shutter. When we purchase a DSLRs the camera may still have automated function such as AI or Program but there is normally a way for you to control shutter speed, this is where you can get creative with your photography.

How It Works

By changing your shutter speed you can manipulate the action of your subject moving thru your frame. A faster shutter will freeze the subject and a slower shutter will typically blur your subject.

Slow Shutter Speeds In Daylight

There are a few techniques you can try here. The first is keeping with the subject as it moves – a approach known as panning. You select a slow shutter speed and track the subject as it moves, pressing the shutter button as you pan. If you get it right the subject will appear sharp as it hasn’t moved position in the viewfinder, but the background will be blurred making the subject look as though its hurtling along. Try this on bicyclists, cars, planes, joggers, animals and sporting activities.

Another method of creating movement is to keep the camera in a stationary point and press the shutter button using a slow shutter speed. This time the subject will be blurred as it passes across the viewfinder and the background will be sharp. This takes a lot of expertise to get the detail right as the subject can often look too blurred producing a photograph with absolutely no impact.

The third technique is same as our earlier sample, but used to remove the subject. It’s used by architectural photographers who want to photograph a building without people getting in the way. If the shutter speed is decrease they’ll record as a blurred and distracting subject, but if it’s extremely long the blurred individual moving through the path of the view will be so blurred it won’t even be recognizable and will not affect the picture.

If you can’t slow the shutter speed down enough to create your ideal effect, try using a lower aperture (bigger number) to reduce the amount of light reaching your sensor and if you’re still having trouble, try-on an ND filter over your lens will reduce the light value even more, hopefully resulting in the slower shutter speed you need. As the filter is neutral it won’t affect the colour of the picture so you’ll be able to take a natural looking shot.

When It’s Dark

A long shutter speed can easily be set in evening to capture vehicle headlights as trails. Choose a position on a suitable bridge over a busy road and also tripod mount the camera. Then fire the shutter with a speed of between one and 15 seconds depending on the length of streak you require.

Tips for daylight

The alternative of selecting a slow shutter speed is to go for a fast shutter speed to do the exact opposite which is to stop your subject in its tracks. In this particular case you need to use a shutter speed faster than the speed of the moving subject, which varies depending on the direction too. If the subject matter is going within the path at close range it will appear to be moving faster than a distant subject and a faster speed will be necessary.

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