Simple Exposure - Shutter Speed

Hello readers! Last time we discussed ISO,and how to change your ISO settings depending on your lighting conditions. This time we’re talking shutter speed. Your camera’s shutter is the mechanism that goes “click” when you take a photo. Shutter speed is how much time passes before the shutter “clicks” and the image is captured. Remember the cup metaphor? In order to get proper exposure we want to fill the cup halfway, right? So how slow or fast the liquid gets into the cup is shutter speed.The longer the amount of time the shutter stays open, the more lighteners the camera.

How do you know what shutter speed your camera is set to? Above is a photo of my camera's control panel (courtesy of ).I shoot Nikon, so your control panel will look different if you shoot Canon or another camera brand. The number in the green box is the shutter speed. Notice it reads 100, but shutter speed is actually measured in fractions of a second, so "100" really means1/100th of a second. Fast shutter speeds are upwards of 500 (1/500 or 1/2000). Slow shutter speeds are typically under 100 (1/50 or 1/15)

Choosing the correct shutter speed is critical to capturing motion in photos. Ever tried to photograph a fast-crawling baby, only to find your image is blurry? Shutter speed can help. Faster shutter speeds allow you to capture fast moving objects, like crawling babies or running toddlers or your star soccer player. Slower shutter speeds can help in lower light situations, because it allows more light to come into the camera before the image is captured. You can also create blur using a slower shutter speed, like in this image I shot in Barcelona:

Quick note - my first photography instruction warned us against using a shutter speed lower than 1/60 without a tripod, otherwise you run the risk of camera shake creating blur in your images. I have taken clear, camera shake-free photos at shutter speeds lower than 1/60 but you have to be REALLY still, or prop yourself against a wall or something solid.Next time you’re out with your camera, give shutter speed a whirl. Change your settings to faster and slower shutter speeds, and see what you capture. The easiest way to try this out? Change your camera’s mode from Auto to Shutter Priority (Son Nikon, Tv on Canon) – you can use one of the camera’s dials to change the shutter number, and the camera will choose the other settings to ensure your exposure is correct. Read your manual to figure out the details - any other questions be sure to leave a comment.


  1. thanks for the info. I was actually wondering about this today..and then it is..on this website. Thank YOu!

    1. So funny Rachelle! I hope this helps - learning all of the camera's functions can be a bit daunting. Let me know if you have any questions!