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Three Reasons to Set Shutter Speed Manually on Your DSLR

February 21, 2015 Photography 0 Comments

As a photographer, it is important to move beyond the automatic and program settings on your digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. Learning to manipulate exposure time leads to greater creative control, allowing you to get the exact results you want.

Start by experimenting with the shutter speed setting. Many camera brands indicate this setting with the letters "Tv," which stands for time value. Shutter speed refers to the length of time the camera allows light to enter the lens and create the image.

Three Reasons to Set Shutter Speed Manually on Your DSLRFreeze Fast Movement

Shutter speed is represented with a fraction. For example, a fast speed such as 1/500 would be spoken as "one five-hundredth of a second." Some cameras only display the bottom number of the fraction, which can make this seem a little confusing.

A fast speed works well to freeze movement so you can see details clearly. Select the Tv option on your DSLR, then use the toggle to increase the number to 500, 1000 or even 4000. Try using a fast speed when photographing a running athlete to get a crisp image of the person's legs. Or, use a fast speed to stop the movement of a race car or the wings of a bird in flight.

Create Artistic Blur

On the other hand, the shutter can be slowed down to create a blurring effect. This technique usually adds a painterly style to images and works well for artistic endeavors.

While in the Tv mode, change the speed to 60, 20 or 10. Then, mount the camera to a tripod to give the camera stability, since it's difficult to hand-hold a camera functioning at a low shutter speed and still get part of the image sharply focused.

Then, aim the camera at a scene with both static and moving parts. For example, try taking pictures of a waterfall. By using a slow speed, the moving water will look soft and almost cloud-like, with a slight blur. The surrounding rocks and trees will remain sharp since they're stationary.

Reduce Image Overexposure

Another reason to use the Tv mode on your DSLR is to control how bright or dark your images appear. The longer you allow light to enter the camera with a low shutter speed, the brighter the image will be if all other settings remain the same.

If you're taking pictures outside on a sunny day and everything seems too overexposed, washed-out and bright, use the Tv mode on your camera and increase the shutter speed to a higher number. For instance, a speed of 1/1000 will produce a darker image than using a speed of 1/250.

While the automatic mode on your camera can be useful in some instances, having more control over your photos will let you express yourself and get the desired results from your photos. Do you use the Tv mode on your DSLR? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below.

Photo credit: Flickr

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