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Understanding Shutter Priority And When To Use It

Lesson 22 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

Understanding Shutter Priority And When To Use It

Lesson 22 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

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Lesson Info

22. Understanding Shutter Priority And When To Use It


Class Trailer

Session 1


Introduction to Craft Photography Fundamentals


What Your Visuals Say About Your Brand


How to Become a Photographic Author


How to Use Natural Light for Your Product Photography


Setting Up Your Photo: The Basic Rules


Becoming the Viewer to Take Better Photos


Shooting 3 Setups: Creating the Backstory with Images


Lesson Info

Understanding Shutter Priority And When To Use It

So let's start out with shutter speed priority. If you are using a Canon, it's listed as TV, which stands for time value, instead of shutter speed. And if you are using a Nikon, it's generally an S for shutter. So that's the setting you're gonna be looking for on the top of your camera, on your dial. So, right now I'm in AV. I'm gonna switch it right to TV. So that TV or S is what you're looking for. Okay. It's one million times better than using the little green box that you see on the top of your camera. And we're gonna talk about why that is. So, what is a shutter? It's the part of your camera that opens and closes to let in light. So it's basically the amount of time that light can come in your camera and record onto your sensor. And all photography is, is a recording of light. So that amount of time becomes really key. So, this is my very simple way of showing you what a shutter looks like in your camera. Shutter on most DSLRs have two curtains. They go right across and they open ...

and close. Okay, so they'll open and close. And they kind of do it sometimes at a little bit of a diagonal like that. That's important to know if you're using flash, which we are not in this class, but open and close just like that. That's a shutter, and it helps control how movement appears in your image. So a shutter speed does two things. It controls the amount of time you're letting light in, and then it will help you hide or show movement within your images, depending on what shutter speed you're using. All right. So, these are some shutter speeds. Now on your camera, you probably have a lot more in between these numbers, and that's okay. Generally, they are by a third, but these are full stops on shutter speed. And as you see that fraction get larger, or smaller actually, because it's fraction, it's getting faster. And as you come this direction towards the one second mark, it's getting slower and slower. Now you'll notice that I put a 60th of a second right in the middle. And that's because it's generally thought of as like a middle ground shutter speed. A 60th of a second is when you start to freeze movement in your image. Anything below that is going to start to show it, so it will look blurry. Anything above that, and we can start to freeze faster and faster movement that's showing up in an image. So, you're probably all thinking, "I'm photographing product, "it doesn't move, why is this important to me?" Well, there's two things. Let's show you again. This is a good example. At a 20th of a second, as she stirs this. You see how her hand is totally blurry in there. Okay, and then here at a 60th, it's still blurry. The whist is still completely blurred out. When we get to 1/500th of a second, now it's nice and sharp. It looks like she wasn't moving. She was just holding it. Okay. Once you freeze the movement in an image, going up to a higher shutter speed, you can't freeze movement anymore, right? Once it stopped, it stopped. So I can go up to a higher shutter speed, and it's not gonna have any affect, except for that I'm blocking out more light. So, I always recommend once you find that place where you can freeze the movement of your subject you don't need to go faster than that, unless it's super bright, and you need to block out sunlight. Okay, so here we can see the difference. Now sometimes if you are photographing a story-telling image, I want that movement. I want to show that she was whipping that, okay? That was important to the story. That's what it's about. She is whipping a meringue. But if I didn't wanna show that I wanted... Maybe I was selling the whisk, and I need it to be nice and sharp and clear, then I'm going to freeze the movement by using a higher shutter speed. Okay. And there really is no... Everyone always says, "Okay, well then "what shutter speed should I use?" I can't just be like, "Just always use 1/250th "then you'll be fine." It just doesn't work that way. It depends on what your subject is. It depends on if you're in a tripod, and it depends on how much light you have available in that time. But what shutter speed priority does is it allows you to pick the shutter speed, and your camera is then picking the other settings to give you a good exposure. So you get to just focus on the shutter speed, and the movement within the image, and what you wanna do with that, and then the camera will pick the other settings. So that's what shutter speed priority does. Now, generally, when I'm shooting product, I don't shoot in shutter speed priority, because it's not the most important thing to me. Movement in an image, not the most important thing to me, generally, when I'm shooting product, right? But the reason I wanted to talk about this is because... So shutter speeds do the two things we just talked about. They show motion or they freeze motion, so that's, in photography, called motion blur. That's when the movement shows within your image because of a slow shutter speed. And I wanted to talk about that because so many people will come to me and say, "My camera does not focus right. "My images are not sharp, "and I know it's my camera's fault "because it's not focusing, "and so, like the focusing is off somehow." And they'll show me an image that's completely blurry. I always can tell, that was your shutter speed. Your shutter speed was too slow. And what that is, is camera shake. So it's not the movement of my subject. It's the movement of me holding a heavy camera in my hand and moving while I'm taking the picture. So I wanna show you an example of that before we move on. I'll come around here. We're not gonna put a background in or try and make this look amazing right now. I just wanna show you what a slow shutter speed does. So, I'm gonna dial my shutter speed all the way down to... Let's do a second. This is a long shutter speed, okay. And I focus on my product and... (shutter clicks) do you hear how long that was? If you hear a huge pause as you're photographing a subject, you do not have enough light or because you're using the slow shutter speed. Let's hold this up. Okay, and that's what it looks like. Does that look good? No, it does not. It does not look good. We do not want to do that. So, let's bring up the shutter speed. Let's even go to a fifth of a second. (shutter clicks) Now let's look at it. It's getting better, right? A little bit. Okay. So let's go even faster. Let's go to a 25th of a second or 30th. Let's do a 30. (shutter clicks) Okay. Better? It's still soft. So, here's what's really important to know. A lot of times, because you're looking on the back of your camera, and you're seeing the small image, it's going to look sharper than it really is when you open it up. So, I do want you to know that if you are hand holding your camera, it's not on the tripod, and you are using, especially if you're using a longer lens, we'll get into lenses in a little bit, if you're below 60th of a second and you open that image up on your computer, if you moved at all, it's gonna look softer than you really want it to be. It may look relatively sharp, but it's gonna be softer than you want. So let's go up to 125th. So, I am shaky. I drink a lot of caffeinated sodas, and I'm just not like a still person. I'm a mover, and I know that about myself. So even for me, a 60th of a second, because I'm a little bit shaky, and I'm holding... This camera is a relatively heavy camera, especially when I have a bigger lens on it. I know for me, I like to be at at least 125th of a second, just for safety, just to make me feel a little bit better, sometimes even a 250th if I'm using a longer, heavier lens. So let's take another one. We're at 1/125th right now. I'm gonna try and hold super still. (shutter clicks) I can feel myself shaking, so I'm gonna take one more. (shutter clicks) okay. And let's look at those last two images. So, see. The other thing I wanna show you is because I'm using my camera in shutter speed priority, even when I change my shutter speed, it's changing the look of the motion, but the exposure is the same, right? Because it's adjusting the other settings to give me the equal exposure. So, let's see how much sharper we're getting on our subject, okay, as opposed to that really blurry image, when I'm using a slow shutter speed. So this is where it comes to. This is when people are like, "My camera is not focusing." or "My house doesn't have enough light "because I have these slow shutter speeds "so my images are blurry." so that's why a tripod is so important. Because if I'm not holding the camera, and it's resting on something that's keeping it static, that's keeping it from moving, then I can use a really slow shutter speed because there's no movement in my image. So we're gonna do a little test right now. Yesterday we got a lot of questions and a lot of people in the chatroom saying, "But I don't have windows that big." I don't have windows this big. I wish I did. It's amazing. But I don't either. So actually, what I wanted to do, we're gonna turn off the overhead lights. We're gonna turn roll down these screens, and we're gonna cover up this window, and there's gonna be very little light in here when we do that. And I'm going to show you how I can still take a picture that looks like what I just took by just using a slower shutter speed and a tripod, okay, without it being blurry. Candice, can I ask you a question while we're doing that? Yes, yeah. So the question had come in, and we're really excited to get your questions because we really want people to understand all of these fundamentals as we go through them. So Brandon Pearson said. "Your speed at a higher shutter speed "blocks out the sun how?" So, what exactly is happening in that camera, the higher shutter speed you go to? It's not necessarily blocking out the sun. It's just controlling the amount of time the sunlight can come in, right? So if I have my shutter open this long, and it's open, all this light is coming in while it's open. But if I have my shutter speed open like that, then way less light is coming in, right? Because it just doesn't have the same amount of time to get in onto my sensor. So, when we go into our next setting, aperture, aperture is kind of the counterpart to that. It's a circle, and it controls the opening, the size of the opening the light can come in, but your shutter speed is controlling the amount of time. So we have the size of the opening, and we have the time that the light can come in, and it's basically a math equation, which is not super awesome if you're a creative like me. But we can use it to our advantage, knowing that. So, the first I'm gonna do is meter for this. Metering just means pressing your button half way down when you're over, pointed toward your subject, and I'm gonna see what shutter speed I actually really need to use to get a good exposure. So this, I'm at an ISO of 400. That's my sensor's sensitivity to light. We'll get into that. My lens is open all the way, we're gonna talk about what that means too, to 2.8. And even still doing all that, it's saying my shutter speed is gonna be at a 30th of a second. (shutter clicks) to get the photo. So let's... It's gonna come up. It's coming up. Okay. So, it's okay. We're seeing it a little bit smaller here, but it's slightly blurry, because a 30th of a second is really slow, right? We just talked about that. So I'm gonna put my camera on the tripod. And in fact, let's do this even differently, because... I'm gonna lower my ISO all the way down to 200, which is generally, when you're doing product photography, you wanna keep your ISO as low as you can. So now it's telling me I have to be all the way at a 15th. (shutter clicks) So let's see what that does. Okay, so to get a good exposure, I'm at a 15th of a second, and it's gonna be a blurry image. That's what would happen. Candice, could you explain exactly again what ISO is? Yes. So your ISO is your sensor in your camera's sensitivity to light. We'll talk about that in a little bit more. In fact, let's just talk about it now, because we don't have a slide for it. So, your ISO is your sensor's sensitivity to light. So what that means is the higher number you go on your ISO, the more sensitive the sensor is to the light coming in, which means you don't need as much light. It's more sensitive to it. But what it also means is the higher you go on your ISO, the less quality you have. It's gonna start to show noise so, when you get an image, and it looks like you see all those little dots, it's almost like a painting, or almost pixelation-looking, that is coming from using a really high ISO, and it'll lower the quality of your overall image. So we try to keep our ISOs down as low as we can. And in product photography, because I'm not photographing movement, 400 is generally as high as I wanna go. Otherwise, I'm gonna get on a tripod and keep my ISO down nice and low. So, it's at 200 right now, which is kind of like what your camera came on. 200 is sort of like a general low-end ISO, and it's great for being in daylight, outside when you got a lot of light around you. It's not so great when you're photographing inside using window light, right? Because you don't have as much light, unless you're on a tripod and you're keeping your camera nice and still. So, here we go. To get our exposure here, we were at a 15th of a second at F3.2, and our Iso was 200. If I wanted to keep my other two settings at 3. and at an ISO of 200... And remember, I'm spouting out these numbers, but the camera is deciding those other numbers for you. Okay. So you don't have to be like, "So many numbers right now." What we're focused on is the shutter speed, okay? You're choosing the shutter speed. But I wanna show you how even in really low light... Okay, these are black screens. We've just covered up the light coming in this room. I could take a nap in here. It's nice. It's very relaxing. But unfortunately, that means if I don't have a lot of light coming through my window, then I have this slow shutter speed. So, I've put my camera on the tripod. We'll talk about the tripod that I like in a minute. And I'm just going to take the picture. All of the settings are the same. (shutter clicks) And let's how that looks. Better? Okay. So, the point of that is I can take a picture in a bathroom with no window if I have one light bulb. And I can make it look as bright as the middle of the day. I can take a picture at night of the moon, and if I let my, of a landscape with only moonlight, and if I let my camera stay open long enough, my shutter speed long enough, I can make it look like it's daylight. So, the whole excuse of "I just don't have enough light in my house," it's not... Don't let that stop you is what I'm trying to say. Because as long as you know how your camera reacts in that lighting situation and you know what settings to use or you know to use a tripod, you're gonna be perfectly fine. Now do I recommend taking photos at night with your overhead lights? Absolutely not. We want window light. We want that beautiful direction. But look, we barely have any light coming in from this window, and we still are getting that really beautiful natural light look. So you don't have to have a lot of natural light, you just have to know how to use that natural light. I'm gonna even get in a little bit tighter. And I wanna point out one thing. You could see it more in the last image, but do you see how there's a little bit of orange coming in on the right hand side? Do you see how the lights on the soap, it's like a little warm? That's because in the back of this room, we have one light on, and the camera sees that. Even though it's a weaker light... It's okay, you can leave it. I wanna show that. So even though it's a weaker light than our main light source, it's still having an effect on our image, so that's why it's so important to only use one type of light source at a time. Because if I only had overhead lights, I could edit for that to make it less orange or warm. But if I have two lights and one is blue and one is orange, then I can't fix that in editing, because either one side is gonna be super blue or one side is gonna be super orange. So it's really tough when you have multiple light sources. And that's really why I recommend just working with one window when you're starting out. And the other you'll notice is I like to get really low. A lot of times people don't get low enough to their product to give a good perspective. Okay, we're gonna take one more. (shutter clicks) Same, super slow shutter speed, but I'm on a tripod, I'm using the very light light I have and I can make something beautiful. And I can even make it brighter by using a slower shutter speed and exposure compensation, which we're gonna talk about later. But let me just show you what that would look like in this situation. (shutter clicks) Do you see that? Okay, let's make it even brighter. Am I changing my light? No. (shutter clicks) I have the same light. And Candice, what are your settings at this point? So, we just opened up... The camera actually opened up the aperture to 2.8. And then let's look at this next one. Now our shutter speed has gotten even slower, and we're letting in even more light. So what's happening is the camera, as I change exposure compensation, it was figuring out ways to let in more light. We're gonna talk about exposure compensation a lot later in the class. But the point is it's all about how much light I choose to let into my sensor. And if I was photographing a portrait, that wouldn't work, because if they moved at all, it would be blurry. But I'm not. I'm a small business owner. I'm photographing my soaps. And that means that they're not moving. And as long as I'm on a tripod and it's not moving, I can have a shutter speed of five minutes and it wouldn't matter. Okay. Yes. So when you're talking about the metering, when you hold the button half way down, you're looking to get the shutter speed to be in the center of the light meter, is that what you're looking for? So your camera will automatically, in TV or AV, put it in the middle for you. So, basically by pressing it half way down, I was just looking at what numbers it was giving me so I could tell you. But yeah, every-- So you're not choosing the shutter speed in that mode. I am choosing the shutter speed, and then my camera will pick the other settings to put it in the middle. Okay, so how did you know to go to 1/15th? I just picked that. I just picked it. So you would recommend just experimenting with the light that you have at that particular moment, and then for the next hour, you should be good staying with that. It just depends, because if there are clouds outside and there's clouds going over and your light is changing. I mean you can see the light changing, getting brighter or darker, then you would readjust for that. But the nice thing again is every time I press this button half way down, my camera is re-metering, and eve if I don't change the shutter speed, it's changing the other settings to be able to get that photo in the right exposure. So all you have to worry about is picking, in TV, picking the shutter speed that you want, and your camera will pick the other two settings to give you a good exposure. So then let's go into aperture, because I feel like aperture priority is really where you're going to want to be as you're photographing products. So we can open these windows back up. Okay, did everyone get that? Okay. It can be dark, as long as you have a little bit of natural light. It can be late in the day. It can be on a cloudy day. It can be early in the morning. As long as you have soft light coming through your window, you can get a good image of your product if you have a tripod. So we do have some questions in here while we're switching it up. And so, again, we just wanna make sure everyone is getting this. So, Victoria Gray says, "I have an older camera, and it's noisy "at any ISO over a hundred. "I've heard that new cameras are better than this. "Would it be worth getting a new camera?" Yes. If you can't go above an ISO of 100, that's a really big concern. I mean if you're just shooting product like we were, you could leave it 100, have your camera on the tripod and you're not photographing things that are moving, you're fine. But I'm guessing you're using your camera for other things besides just product, right? Like for your kids, and for your friends, and when you go out to eat. So, in those cases then, we do want to be able to go above an ISO of 100. Yeah. So, I would. The newer, the ISOs are... I shoot theater a lot, because my husband is an actor. In those situations, because you can't use a flash, and it's dark in theaters, I can use an ISO all the way up at 3200. And with this camera, it still looks really beautiful. So, it's coming a long way, but it's always better to keep it as low as you can. Yes. So, one more clarifying question as we're getting into all of this. Earlier in the class, we were just using an iPhone to photograph. Now, we've moved on to the DSLR. Are these things that you're talking about, considering, relevant-- Applicable. Applicable to the iPhone as well, or do you have to worry about those things with the iPhone? No. I mean you can't adjust your ISO and your aperture on your iPhone, so those are definitely not things you need to worry about. What you need to worry about with that is kinda what we talked about yesterday. Just understanding, as we go into apertures, that you can't get the same focal quality as you can with a DSLR, and knowing how to get around that, and keep it looking professional. And the other thing is with an iPhone, unfortunately if you have zero light, like we just had, or very little light like we just had, it's gonna be much more difficult to get a beautiful image just because you don't have the same controls. So, in that case, if I was in this room, I would be right up close to the window photographing with my iPhone or just a few feet away from the window. Okay, do you guys feel good about shutter speeds? Do you feel all right? Okay, that's good. All right, so, basically what's important to know is if you're not on a tripod, you need to be above a 60th of a second, at least. Okay. And if you're on a tripod, you can go as low as you need to, to get more light.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Creating Visuals For Your Brand Assignment
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 1
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 2
Prop List

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class taught by Candice was amazing. She teaches in such a step-by-step, easy to understand pace. She shares so much of her own tips and tricks she uses to create beautiful images without spending a fortune or having all kinds of expensive equipment. Having the DSLR lessons included was really great for anyone who wants to do more than the camera phones are capable of. Learning the basics of how to use a DSLR is confusing for most people, but Candice broke it down in the simplest way possible. Social media is all about imagery, so if you want to put out the most beautiful eye-catching photos, then you want to learn how to use more than the camera phone. I don't have a business where I need to take photos of things I sell and I still enjoyed her class so much. As a photographer, I am going to use her ideas and insight when I photograph things for fun. There is so much to gain from this class. I would highly recommend taking her class. She is a wealth of great ideas and information and has that friendly personality of someone you'd want to sit and have coffee with.


A wonderful class to get you going with craft/product photography. Candice provides (and shows) fantastic examples and it's really fun to watch her work through a shoot, moving items, etc. to create the final image. She also covers some basic photography tips which is very helpful. Great class! I definitely recommend to others!

Melinda Malamoco

I loved this class! Candice is so personable, clear and relatable. I would want to hang out with her and be creative! I have been taking pictures for YEARS, and for my Etsy store for over two years, and I still learned a lot in her class. The lessons are set up in a way that you can follow, take what you want and don't worry about what you don't need. I will say that I got a TON of ideas for how to better display my brand, what my personal style is and how to be consistent with it. I so recommend this class for anyone who has small business or just wants to be able to take better pictures of their products. Okay, off to build a prop kit!

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