Shutter Speed and Aperture? Explained!
Basic photography lesson – What is Shutter Speed and Aperture?
When I first started taking photos I was 14. I had a Minolta (something or other) and the manual that came with it was far too confusing. So, I set it to auto and let the camera do all the work. I was shocked to find that most of my photos were completely useless. Not at all like what I saw in the photography magazines I would peruse on occasion. The automatic and program functions on your camera do one thing, they get a neutral image that most people will be happy with. But what if you want more? What if you want to take a photo at night? What do you do then? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people standing in front of the Eiffel Tower hand-holding their cameras, using their built-in flash and expecting to get a good result. Your flash is powerful, but not powerful enough to light up the Eiffel Tower. What if you want to stop a car going 60 miles per hour? There is a way to improve your photography and get away from the dull, boring automatic and program buttons.
But first, you need to understand what these terms mean:
Aperture – If you’re using a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera with interchangeable lenses, aperture actually has nothing to do with the camera itself. The aperture blades reside inside the lenses. They open and close depending on the amount of light you want to enter the camera and hit your sensor. A wide aperture, one that is lowest in number, for instance f1.8, will create a very limited depth of field. That is, if you’re focusing on the subject in the foreground, the background will be completely blurry. And likewise, if you’re focusing on a subject in the background your foreground will be blurry. With aperture it’s possible to create very nice, artistic effects. It’s as simple as that.
Shutter Speed – The shutter speed monitors the amount of time the light coming in from the lens, regulated by the aperture, is allowed to hit the sensor. Fast shutter speeds stop motion, slow shutter speeds give a nice blur effect. However, too slow a shutter speed, without enough light being let in will produce very blurry, unusable shots.
And there it is. So, get out of the habit of taking photos in auto, or program and use your manual, shutter speed, or aperture setting. And have fun!
In summary: Aperture = the amount of light let into the camera by the lens. Creates depth of field.
Shutter Speed = the time the light is let in for.
Combined they create Exposure. And photography is all about getting good exposures. More on that later.