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Professional Photographer Shutter Speed Adjustments

Shutter speed is one of the easiest elements to understand as a professional photographer. The shutter speed is basically the amount of time that the lens stays open while it is taking a photograph. The longer the lens stays open collecting light, the more chance you have for causing image blur in the photos that you take as a professional photographer. The longer the shutter speed stays open also controls the amount of light that the camera image sensor collects. If the shutter stays open for a long period of time, the image will be brighter. When the shutter speed is higher or very fast then the shutter stays open for less time. When the shutter speed is high and the it allows less light to be captured by the image sensor resulting in a darker image. Shutter speed controls both the amount of light that is captured and how much motion blur the image is capable of having.

As a professional photographer, shutter speed can be adjusted by either increasing the shutter speed or decreasing the shutter speed. When we say we are increasing the shutter speed, this means that we are causing the shutter on the camera lens to open and close quicker. When the shutter speed is increased, the amount of light collected by the image sensor is lessened. When we decrease the shutter speed, this means that we are causing the camera to open and close the shutter on the lens slower, meaning that the shutter stays open longer allowing more light to be captured by the image sensor resulting in a darker image. It is important as a professional photographer to understand proper image exposure and how to achieve it.

There are times when we need a lower shutter speed because our environment is dim. By decreasing the shutter speed, the image will be brighter. However, as the shutter speed stays open longer, this can cause motion blur to occur in our photos. A professional photographer may not want to include any image blur in their photos. If our subject is very still and our shutter speed is low this could be ok. But what if we are taking a photo of a child running in the grass? If we decrease the shutter speed too low, the photo of the child may be blurred causing the photo to look like it is out of focus. In this case, because the child is running, we would need to increase the shutter speed so that there is no blur. Basically, we may have to sacrifice the amount of light being captured by the sensor to allow us to make sure that our subject is in focus. Having sharp focus is important when training to be a professional photographer.

Shutter Speed Objective as a Professional Photographer

When determining what shutter speed to use as a professional photographer, we have two objectives in mind that we should focus on. First, how fast is our subject moving. Is our subject stationary and sitting still? We make our shutter speed adjustments first based on knowing how quickly the subject is moving. The second objective to consider is, how dark is our environment. If we know that our subject is slow moving or completely stationary, then we know we can use shutter speed to control the environment lighting. If the subject is moving then we have to decide to control shutter speed based on the subject’s movement speed. If the subject is moving very quickly like a car driving, then a faster shutter speed may be required.

If our environmental needs dictate that we prioritize for movement as a professional photographer, then we lose some ability to control the amount of light we are capable of capturing. This could result in our image coming out too dark. If this scenario occurs where the image is still too dark because we had to choose a faster or higher shutter speed then we can still compensate for that using other adjustments in the camera. Before we decide to make other adjustments however, we will want to make sure that we are using the lowest possible shutter speed for the situation we are dealing with. We can practice getting familiar with shutter speed while training to be a professional photographer by taking photos of a dog running at the park. Take your own dog if you have one, or have a friend with a dog go to the park with you. Take a ball and have the dog chase after the ball. While the dog is running, make adjustments to your shutter speed so you can see what the results will be like. Another way to practice becoming a professional photographer is to take photos of cars driving down a busy street if it is safe to do so.

Once you have chosen the lowest possible shutter speed for your environment, then you still have two more adjustments that can be made to help make sure our resulting photograph is of excellent quality produced by a true professional photographer. The two remaining adjustments are for aperture and ISO.

Learning More About Being a Professional Photographer

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a professional photographer, we have an article on our website that talks about how to make adjustments to aperture. We also have an article that goes into detail on how and when to use ISO. Then lastly, we have an article that talks about an easy method I have come up with on how to make adjustments on the fly.

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