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Manual Mode Made Simple

Lesson 3 of 7

Shutter Speed: Time & Motion

Khara Plicanic

Manual Mode Made Simple

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

3. Shutter Speed: Time & Motion

Lesson Info

Shutter Speed: Time & Motion

Alright, so we're gonna start by talking about shutter speed. When I explain this, I like to compare it to our eyes because we have experience with our eyes, right? We've had them our whole life. So, we know how they operate. So, if we were going to compare our eyes with a camera, what part of our eyes do you think would be like our shutter speed? Anybody? I guess you need a microphone if you're gonna talk. (laughs) Somebody, don't leave me hanging here. Come on. Go ahead. Your eyelids. Your eyelids, thank you. (laughs) Your shutter speed would be like your eyelids. So, we can change how quickly the camera blinks, basically. So, by default, of course, when we're just standing around not taking a picture the shutter is closed. When we press the shutter button, it's gonna blink open and then blink back shut again. And shutter speed controls how quickly it does that. The effect that that has on our image is that shutter speed will affect our time and motion. The way that time, well,...

that motion really is captured in terms of time on our exposure. So, for example, if we're taking a picture of somebody running really quickly, if we wanna freeze the action, we would use a faster shutter speed so the camera is blinking really quickly, right? So, when the camera's actually seeing, it's only seeing such a small sliver of time that the person running just appears in one place. In that instant that the camera blinked. If we leave the shutter open longer so it's a slower shutter speed than the camera's gonna see the person actually moving and that would be recorded as a blur. So, when you think about it, shutter speed is really... You're controlling how long of a photo you're taking. Which is kinda funny because when we think about taking photos, it's a moment captured in time. Which it is but your shutter speed controls how long of a moment you capture. So, you can have ten moments in one... If a moment was a second, You could have ten moments in one picture if your shutter speed was set that it was open for 10 seconds. Does that make sense? So, let's see how the shutter speed is measured. This is not an extensive list of shutter speeds by the way. It's just sort of random assortment. So, there are additional options beyond what I'm just showing you here. But this is just to help you understand the continuum of how it works. Shutter speed is usually depicted in fractions of a second. For example, 1/500 of a second and then, of course, if we get slower, we might get down to 1/30 of a second, maybe a whole second, maybe 30 seconds, maybe two hours, maybe who knows. That can go on pretty indefinitely this way. And then, of course, it can be faster too. So, on my camera, it goes as fast as 1/8000 of a second. That can vary from camera to camera. So, you just have to kinda see what your camera can do. As your shutter speed gets slower, motion will start appearing as a blur in your picture. Because your camera's having its eye open for long enough that it's seeing motion happen. So, you'll start to see that and the faster the shutter speed, it's gonna freeze the action. So, we see that down here. Alright, so, let's see some effects of that. So, here we see a frame where we have some motion blur. So, would that be shot with a faster shutter speed or a slower shutter speed? Slower. Slower shutter speed, right? And I think it's important, by the way, when we're talking about these concepts, don't worry about the actual shutter speed. People sometimes get really caught up in like, well, what were your camera settings? And I want you to release yourself from those super tight details and think more big picture and just think was that a fast shutter or a slow shutter? At least for now. So, you're right, this would be a slower shutter because we are seeing motion there. Here's another example. Fast shutter or slower shutter? Fast. Faster shutter, of course, because we have some action frozen here. Now, what was the exact shutter speed on this? I am not sure I even remember to be honest. But how fast is fast enough? Depends on what you're shooting. This could be shot at 1/8000 of a second. He would be frozen. And I'm pretty sure I could've shot this at 1/ of a second and he'd still be frozen, right? So, the exact number is not as crucial as just knowing in your mind, are you looking for something faster or something slower to help you accomplish whatever you're trying to do. So, let's talk about this, I guess. I don't know that you guys have your cameras with you but folks at home that might have your cameras with you, I want to show you how you actually control this stuff on your camera. Of course, it's gonna vary from model to model so, please don't hold me responsible for memorizing every maken model of all the cameras out there. I will refer you to your manual to find the specifics but to adjust this stuff, of course, you wanna be in manual mode. So, for a lot of cameras, you've got a dial somewhere around the top of your camera. It's got a whole bunch of alphabet soup going on up there. Lots of different letters and pictures and things. You'd wanna dial that so that your camera is set to M. That will enable you to shoot in manual mode. To control your shutter speed then, on many cameras, it's gonna be this dial over here. So, usually it's pretty near your shutter release button. And you can spin it one direction and then you can spin it back the other way and it's going to adjust the shutter speed. And you'll see that in several places. Notably, here, on the top of your display but you would also see it when you're looking through your viewfinder. You have some numbers, probably, they're green. Now that I think about it, I'm not even sure. Yeah. (laughs) So, there's some numbers down here at the bottom of your view when you look through your viewfinder and perhaps you've been ignoring them your entire life. Now is when you wanna start paying attention. Because they're actually really useful and they're telling you stuff like what you shutter speed is. On a point and shoot camera, if it has manual mode, you'll have to look up how you would do this because again they're all so different but, for example, the point and shoot that I had that I love had a little ring on the back here that I could spin around and choose my shutter speed when I'm in manual mode. Let's talk about what we see when we look through our viewfinder. We're gonna see our image area here and whatever frame we're composing and then down at the bottom, there's all kinds of numbers. And yours, of course, might look slightly different. Interpret this a little bit differently but it's all actually the same thing. So, somewhere down in the bottom of what you're viewing, you're gonna see something that represents your shutter speed. Now, we talked about that a lot of times, unless you're doing a really slow shutter speed so that it's like a full second or more, you're gonna be working with fractions of a second. But the display doesn't put the fraction part there because they just wanna confuse you, I guess. Because it takes up too much room? I don't know because you can't do fractions in whatever kind of font that is, calculator display. So, you just have to know in your head that when you see 500 that doesn't mean 500 seconds long. that your camera's gonna be open. It means 1/500 of a second. So, this is our fraction, okay? All right, so that's that. So, folks at home who wanna give this a whirl, I would invite you to put your camera in manual mode. Figure out where your shutter speed dial is. And then just dial that around and see what your outer limits are. And you'll notice when you're doing that, once you scroll slower than a fraction of a second, like if you get to a full second and even slower, you will probably see that depicted with inch marks. So, for example, if I dial mine down to be like a 30 second exposure, it doesn't just say 30, it say says 30 and then has quotes. So, it looks like 30 inches. The quote, the inches, actually means seconds. So, we've got the non-fraction that's the fraction. And the inches that is the seconds, got it? It's kinda silly. So, I guess my challenge for you here would be figure out where you control your shutter speed and then go to both extremes so you can see what your camera is capable of. My camera goes from 30 seconds all the way to 1/8000. Just for perspective but every camera is different. So, take a minute folks at home and give that a whirl.

Class Description

For consistency and control over your images, nothing beats shooting in manual mode. Join Khara Plicanic for Manual Mode Made Simple and take control of your images.

Learn how to expertly dial in aperture, shutter speed, and ISO; and learn the tricks of the pros for making this part of your workflow, so that you barely even have to think about it. Learning this is a key step towards opening up your camera's potential and taking better photos.  

In this easy-to-follow class, Khara will walk you through the basics of using your camera in manual mode. You’ll learn about the mistakes most beginners make and get a head-start on shifting your dials and controlling your settings. By the end of this class, you’ll feel more confident holding your camera and be inspired to go out and shoot – in manual mode!   


Julie Lillard

I have been using my DSLR for 2 years and feel like I take pretty good pictures. I have read my manual and understood the basics of ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture. What I was having trouble with was understanding how they all worked together. I though Khara did a wonderful job of helping me understand how one works with the other. I also loved that she emphasized that there is no one correct setting, it is based on what you like! Great class and I would definitely recommend it.


Awesome class! I'm a complete beginner and Khara does an amazing job of explaining key concepts in simple terms. She also does a great job in explaining step by step how to go about setting up your shot when using manual mode. I'm feeling a lot more confident today after viewing this course. Khara is a great teacher. Highly recommended!

Karen Tesch

This was really a great class! She has a way of making things so easy to understand. She is charming, and engaging. I would highly recommend this class to anyone. I hope she does other classes because it is really worth your time. I wish I had seen this earlier in my efforts at photography. Thank you so much! You're a great teacher!