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Shutter priority mode

From: Foundations of Photography: Exposure

Video: Shutter priority mode

As you've seen, there are lots of reasons that you might want to control shutter speed. Whether it's to ensure that your shots are free from camera shake or to intentionally blur or freeze your subject, shutter speed choice is an essential creative decision. Now, knowing you want a particular shutter speed doesn't do you any good if you don't know how to select it on your camera. By the end of this course, you'll have seen several ways to alter shutter speed settings. In this lesson, we're going to look at shutter priority mode. Now, I've got this little toy here. When I crank it up, these little spaceships are going to spin around.

Shutter priority mode

As you've seen, there are lots of reasons that you might want to control shutter speed. Whether it's to ensure that your shots are free from camera shake or to intentionally blur or freeze your subject, shutter speed choice is an essential creative decision. Now, knowing you want a particular shutter speed doesn't do you any good if you don't know how to select it on your camera. By the end of this course, you'll have seen several ways to alter shutter speed settings. In this lesson, we're going to look at shutter priority mode. Now, I've got this little toy here. When I crank it up, these little spaceships are going to spin around.

Now I'm going to take a picture of it using program mode, which is what you've been doing all along. So I'm here in program mode, just as I'm supposed to. As I've said before, I'm going to half-press the shutter to focus and meter. I'm going to take my shot. So here is what program mode came up with, and it's not bad. Program mode did a good job of coming up with an adequate exposure. I say adequate because all your meter does is try to find exposure settings that will yield an image that is neither too bright nor too dark. But in this case, the vision in my head was of a scene where the little spinning spaceships were blurred out.

They are little blurry, but they're not super blurry. But they're not real sharp either. So in this case, program mode came up with an adequate exposure. It just isn't the best for what our intended result is, because our intended result is some really smeary spaceships flying around. So, in this instance, I'm going to switch to shutter priority mode. Now, you should be familiar with how to change modes on your camera by now. If you're not, check out the modes lesson. If I change to shutter priority mode, I can now specify the shutter speed that I want. When I meter, by half-pressing the shutter button, the camera will automatically pick a corresponding aperture value that will yield a well-exposed image.

So, I can specify how fast or slow a shutter speed I want, and still get an image that's neither too bright nor too dark because my camera will pick an aperture that will combine with the shutter speed choice that I've made, and yield a good exposure. So let's do this again. I'm going to--I'm in shutter priority, so I've got control of shutter speed. Right now, you can see this 60 right here. That means, right now the camera is going to shoot at a shutter speed of a 60th of a second. That's too fast to really blur out the motion, so I'm going to slow it down to 30th. I'm going to crank up the spinning spaceship toy again, and take my shot.

So, here is our shot. You can see it's much blurrier than what we're getting with program mode, because I was able to leave the shutter open much longer by shooting it at 30th of a second. Let's now do the opposite thing. Let's try to really freeze the motion. So to do that, I'm going to dial the shutter speed up, so that it's very quick. I'm going to go up to a 1,000th of a second. I've dialed that into my camera. When I meter, the camera is going to pick a corresponding aperture that will yield a good exposure, meaning not too bright or not too dark. My spaceships get going. I take my shot.

So, here is what we got. In this case, the spaceships are much more frozen in space than they were either in program mode or in my first 30th of a second shot, which makes sense. At a 1,000th of a second, I am catching a very thin sliver of time, and freezing the motion of these objects. This is the power of shutter speed control. I can choose to blur moving objects. I can choose to freeze moving objects. But just because I want to shoot at a particular shutter speed doesn't mean that my camera can necessarily choose an aperture that's going to yield a good exposure with that speed.

For example, let's say I want to go back and shoot another shot of this, but I want to be sure that when it's moving it's just really frozen, so that it's tacked sharp. So I'm going to increase my shutter speed. Let's say I bump it up to a 4,000th of a second, very, very fast to really stop the motion. I half-press my shutter button. When I do, I get an aperture, but it's flashing. So what the camera is telling me here is that it's opened the aperture as wide as it can go, which is at f/1.2, and it's still not enough. So it's desperately flashing at me, trying to tell me, "Please, don't take this shot.

It's going to be underexposed." I could take the shot anyway. That's the beauty of it is it's not going to stop me from taking the shot. It's just that when I do take it, it's going to be too dark. I might be able to brighten it up in my image editor later. When it's flashing, you don't know, whether you're over- or underexposed. You just know that you're one or the other. In this case, I might choose to back off and go down to maybe a 2,000th of a second. When I meter there, I've got a good aperture, so now I can take the shot. So, with shutter priority mode, you can take control of the shutter speed of your camera, which gives you the power to stop and blur motion.

Getting good results in trickier situations though, will require a few extra techniques, which you'll see later.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Exposure
Foundations of Photography: Exposure

64 video lessons · 86175 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 8m 45s
    1. Welcome
      1m 57s
    2. What is exposure?
      4m 8s
    3. A word about camera brands
      2m 40s
  2. 9m 31s
    1. What is a camera?
      2m 52s
    2. The shutter
      3m 53s
    3. The aperture
      1m 33s
    4. Exposure defined
      1m 13s
  3. 13m 50s
    1. Modes
      2m 7s
    2. Pressing the shutter button
      2m 54s
    3. Autofocus
      5m 22s
    4. Light metering
      2m 3s
    5. White balance
      1m 24s
  4. 29m 26s
    1. Shooting sharp images
      1m 58s
    2. Noting shutter speed
      4m 3s
    3. Taking control of shutter speed
      1m 30s
    4. Stop defined
      2m 50s
    5. Shutter priority mode
      4m 34s
    6. Exercise: Shutter speed
      40s
    7. Reciprocity
      3m 13s
    8. Controlling motion
      7m 8s
    9. Shutter speed increments
      2m 21s
    10. Exercise: Go work with shutter speed
      1m 9s
  5. 26m 2s
    1. Depth of field
      1m 53s
    2. How aperture is measured
      2m 42s
    3. Aperture priority mode
      4m 57s
    4. Lens speed
      53s
    5. Shooting deep depth of field
      3m 53s
    6. Shooting shallow depth of field
      2m 50s
    7. The depth-of-field preview button
      4m 24s
    8. How shallow should you be?
      2m 47s
    9. Exercise: Go work with aperture
      1m 43s
  6. 16m 26s
    1. ISO: The third exposure parameter
      6m 27s
    2. Assessing your camera's high ISO
      5m 32s
    3. Shooting in low light
      3m 32s
    4. Exercise: Shooting in low light
      55s
  7. 14m 30s
    1. White balance controls
      5m 37s
    2. Adjusting white balance manually
      4m 25s
    3. Shooting raw
      4m 28s
  8. 6m 3s
    1. How light meters work
      1m 47s
    2. Why are there different modes?
      4m 16s
  9. 33m 58s
    1. Exposure compensation
      4m 0s
    2. Intentional overexposure
      2m 40s
    3. Intentional underexposure
      1m 42s
    4. Controlling tone
      2m 31s
    5. The histogram
      10m 4s
    6. Real-world histograms
      5m 49s
    7. Tone and color
      2m 16s
    8. Auto exposure bracketing
      3m 57s
    9. Exercise: Go work with exposure compensation
      59s
  10. 12m 56s
    1. Dynamic range
      2m 24s
    2. Exposing for highlights
      4m 15s
    3. Fill flash
      3m 11s
    4. Three solutions to the same problem
      3m 6s
  11. 12m 26s
    1. Manual mode
      2m 6s
    2. Manual mode and light meters
      4m 52s
    3. Manual exposure exercise
      5m 28s
  12. 12m 1s
    1. Custom modes and A-DEP
      1m 39s
    2. Program shift
      3m 52s
    3. Exposure compensation with program shift
      1m 58s
    4. An exercise in reciprocity
      53s
    5. Scene modes and in-camera processing
      3m 39s
  13. 8m 15s
    1. Shooting with post production in mind
      3m 45s
    2. Exposure strategy
      3m 51s
    3. Goodbye
      39s

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