Welcome to part four of our photography mini series. Learning the photography puzzle can have it’s challenges, but the rewards are great! If you are joining us for the first time today, I encourage you to check out the first three posts of this series:
Six Reasons to Learn to Shoot in Manual Mode
Aperture: How to get that Blurry Background in Pictures
ISO: How to set your ISO to take Bright and Balanced Pictures
What is the Best Lighting for Taking Pictures?
The Benefits of Shooting in RAW
Where to Focus when Taking Pictures
How to take your own Family Pictures for your Christmas Card
Like I have said before, I am offering this short series in hopes of teaching others like myself who want to get great pictures of everyday life.
What do I mean by people like myself? I want good pictures of my kids, good pictures for my blog, and candid pictures of life. I do not want to start a photography business nor hire myself out for family pictures.
This mini series is meant for amateurs like myself who just want to capture life’s moments.
If you are among the thousands who own a DSLR, but you don’t know how to shoot in manual mode, I highly encourage you to try to learn. This series is a great place to start.
The camera I use is a Canon EOS Rebel T3. While this is a great starter camera, I would not recommend this camera if your goal is to learn to fluently shoot in manual mode. I use a fixed (or prime) 50 mm lens for almost all my pictures. I highly highly recommend this lens. CONSIDERING THE PRICE, it is an excellent lens, in my amateur opinion.
Before I begin a short explanation on using shutter speed, this is not a tutorial on learning to take action shots. This is a post explaining how to quickly change your shutter speed to adjust your camera’s meter. I will explain how to set your meter to take the images you like best. Knowing how to use your meter on your camera can get you the crisp, bright, fresh, and modern pictures you may be wanting to take.
Shutter Speed defined: The time which your shutter is open while you are taking a picture.
Shutter Speed explained: An easily adjustable pillar of photography to ensure bright and crisp images. Why is it easily adjustable? As you are framing your image, you can easily turn your camera’s dial to change your shutter speed.
The slower the shutter speed, the more light you let into your camera. The faster your shutter speed, the less light you let in. In other words, the slower your shutter speed, the brighter your picture. The faster your shutter speed, the darker your picture (this only works hypothetically if your aperture and ISO are remaining the same.)
For portraits, I recommend keeping your shutter speed faster than a 1/125. If you are shooting with children in the picture, I recommend keeping it a tad faster than that.
This is your meter:
Depending on how you have your display set, it will show up on your screen like this. AND, more importantly, it shows up in your view finder. When you push your button down half way to snap a picture, you should be able to see your meter at the bottom in the view finder.
Here’s a scenario.
1. Set you aperture. Since we have a large array of photography levels reading this, let’s set it at a 4.5.
2. Find a spot near a window with some decent lighting. Close your curtain or make sure you are in a shady spot near the window (also known as diffused lighting). You don’t want direct sunlight. Set your ISO. Maybe 1600 or 3200. Maybe even 800 depending on your time of day.
3. Push the button down half way to take a picture. Watch for your meter to show up. Move your dial around until you can see the pointer on your meter moving around. As you move your dial, your shutter speed should be changing as well.
Your camera was likely built to take a ‘perfect’ picture at the ‘0.’ I prefer a picture when my meter is set between a 1 and a 2. My preferences vary depending if I am taking pictures of people or objects. And, I err on the ‘I over expose too many of my pictures’ so I recommend being cautious if you are like me and like bright pictures. 🙂
4. Adjust your dial until you set your meter where you enjoy taking images. I recommend always keeping your shutter speed above 1/125. (For most ‘everyday’ pictures.)
You should be able to see your shutter speed, aperture, meter, and ISO all within your viewfinder. When I learned how to use my meter a few years ago, this changed my pictures like crazy. You can quickly adjust the exposure of your image by changing your shutter speed. You can adjust quickly since the light around you is ever so slightly changing all the time.
How to use your shutter speed and meter to achieve bright images:
I took the below series of images adjusting only the shutter speed. The first image I took was with the meter set at a -2. The final picture in the series below is with the meter at a +2.
You can see the images slowly get brighter as my shutter speed gets slower and slower. I’m letting more light into the camera by solely adjusting my shutter speed.
If you have followed our blog for any length of time, you probably have already guessed the last few images above are my favorite. I like the bright ones. 🙂
Also, please take note that these images were taken specifically for you to see how shutter speed can be used to change the exposure of your images. I would not necessarily recommend shooting a still life image with a shutter speed of 1/2000, like in the first image.
What are your thoughts? Have you used shutter speed in the past to change your exposure? Or do you just bump up your ISO? What works best for you?