Thanks for stopping by my blog! This is the second entry of my Photography 101 series. Today we are going to talk about Shutter Speed! You can have a lot of fun with shutter speed. This post is more focused on long shutter speeds with inanimate objects… for the most part. First we have to discuss what shutter speed does.

Your DSLR camera has two things called curtains. The first curtain begins the photo capture by allowing in light. The second curtain is what signals the end of the photo capture by stopping the light. That is a very basic explanation of what the curtains do. For a more in depth explanation, please click here. How does this affect your photos? I’m so happy you asked! First let’s see how it affects the exposure.

Shutter Speed Exposure

As you can see in the diagram, slower shutter speeds make a brighter image. This is because there is more time between the curtains, letting in more light. The faster the shutter speed, the darker the image.

Let’s connect ISO and shutter speed. Do you remember that candle photo I asked you to take in my previous post? Did you have a bit of grain in it? Yeah, most likely you did. Take that candle and light it in a dark room (remember, safety first! Don’t burn down your house). Take your camera and put it on ISO 100. Take the shutter speed and set it to a full second. Since you have a very long shutter speed, you will need to have a tripod or a solid surface on which your camera can rest while it capture the photo. Ready? Set…. Go!

Finished? Here are my results…

1/125 Shutter Speed, 2.8 f-stop, 6400 ISO

1 second Shutter Speed, 2.8 f-stop, 100 ISO
Do you see the difference?

What are your results? If you remember, a low ISO setting causes a darker photo, but less grain. A slow shutter speed will brighten the photo, because it lets in more light. Pair these two together, and you will get a well exposed photo with minimal grain. Whoa!!! Awesome. This works well with still objects and a stable camera.

This technique is a life saver if you are photographing weddings and the room is dark. Here is a reception hall at a recent wedding I photographed. It was candlelight, and beautiful, and this technique is a must!


This is also a good technique for photographing stars! I love star photographs. Again, you will definitely need a tripod or solid surface your camera can be placed while aimed at the sky. I did this one with a 30 second shutter speed, 3.2 f-stop, and 400 ISO. Now if you look closely, you can see the stars are making trails. Click on the photo to enlarge it, and you can see it more clearly. This is due to the earth’s rotation within 30 seconds. Yes, you can actually see the stars traveling across the sky! This is also a technique used for light painting… but more one that next time!


I hope you enjoyed this entry about Shutter Speed! I have two more entries to go about this topic, so stay tuned! Let me know your questions and post your results below!!! Thanks for reading! – Kristen

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