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Arriving at the best exposure for a photo is part science and part art. In Foundations of Photography: Exposure, Ben Long helps photographers expand their artistic options by giving them a deep understanding of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and all other critical exposure practices. This course covers the basic exposure controls provided by all digital SLR cameras, as well as most advanced point-and-shoot models. Learn how to master a camera's metering modes, how to use exposure compensation and bracketing, and much more. By the end of the course, you'll know how to develop an "exposure strategy" that will allow you to effectively employ your exposure knowledge in any shooting situation.
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.
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