Shutter Speed (Photography Basics for Crochet part 3)

This is the 3rd lesson in a 5 part photography series specifically designed for crochet and/or knit professionals.

Part 1 can be found HERE.

Part 2, Aperature can be found HERE.

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There is a shutter inside every camera that opens to let in light. When you take photographs, you are painting with light. Each time you adjust the shutter speed, you are telling the camera to allow more or less light in to paint your canvas. Quick shutter speeds are used when photographing sports and fast moving children. We want to catch that sharp action and catch it quickly. If the sun is very bright, you would also want to increase your shutter speed, otherwise your photos will absorb way too much light and they will be completely white (over-exposed).

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On the contrary, in low-light situations, indoors, at night, and while using a tripod, you can lower the shutter speed with good results. You want to let in as much light as possible. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of seconds, or whole seconds for slow shutter speeds. Take a look at our penguin again and watch what happens when I shoot in Shutter Priority. Shutter Priority means that you choose the shutter speed on the camera and the camera adjusts itself for aperture, ISO and white balance. You’ll be able to see Shutter Priority by changing your camera to  “S” on a Nikon or “Tv” on a Canon.


When my shutter speed was 1/2 second, my photo is much too bright. My shutter let in too much light. Another factor is that I am holding my camera. If a shutter speed is too slow, you will experience camera shake. My photo is overexposed AND blurry because, no matter how well I try, I can’t hold a camera perfectly still for half a second. A tripod can remedy this situation but most people prefer to hold their camera. There is more detail at 1/5 second but it is still blurry from camera shake and being overexposed. At 1/20 of a second and faster, I have a pretty good exposure. It was a very sunny day and I was using my 50mm lens so this is slightly out of the ordinary. A good general rule is to set the shutter speed to 1/lens focal length. With my 50mm lens, on most days, my shutter speed should be 1/50 sec or higher, especially if I’m using energetic kids as models. With my 100mm lens, my shutter speed should be approximately 1/100 sec. If the shutter speed is too fast, such as 1/500, 1/1000, or 1/4000 of a second, you will probably end up with a dark photo because the shutter doesn’t have enough time to open and let in light.

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When should you use Shutter Priority Mode instead of another mode? When I am shooting photos of my crochet projects, I don’t use Shutter Priority. This mode is great for sports photography because you need to capture a very small fraction of a second, but it is still really important to understand how shutter speed works. A good exposure balances aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance. For our purposes, we need to remember a few key concepts:

  1. Set your shutter speed to at least 1/lens focal length; example for a 50mm lens, the minimum shutter speed is 1/50.
  2. Fast shutter speeds such as 1/1000 capture moments in time, but the shutter is only open for a small fraction of a second, not allowing much light in.
  3. Use a tripod when setting your camera to a slow shutter speed to avoid camera shake.

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Let me know how you are doing with your photography practice in the comments and if you have any questions.

Photography Basics for Crochet Shutter Speed


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