12 Weeks to Better Photos: Week Two, ISO & Shutter Speed

Welcome to Week 2 of the 12 Weeks to Better Photos.  Week 1 was all about aperture and this week we will cover the other two parts of the exposure triangle: ISO and Shutter Speed.  You can find the pdf here.

What is ISO?


ISO is the film speed and the setting that determines how quickly your camera will capture an image.  The lower the ISO, the longer it takes for the image to be captured and the more light you will need. When the ISO is higher, you need less light to capture an image quickly. The drawback to a high ISO is noise. When your ISO is higher, you get a grainier photo.

What is Shutter Speed?

Your shutter speed is how quickly the shutter, or the little door that opens in front of your  film or image sensor, operates. It can range from several seconds to 1/1600 of a second or faster. It might help to visualize your shutter literally as a door, with your shutter speed controlling how fast or how slow the door opens and closes.  A faster shutter speed lets in less light and “freezes” action. A slower shutter speed lets in more light and shows motion (or blur). Subjects that move quickly (like kids and pets) will need a faster shutter speed if you want to avoid blur.

The Assignment:

This week’s assignment is to put the camera in Shutter Priority mode (S or Tv) and take pictures of running water in your sink at various shutter speeds.

Okay.  I have HORRIBLE light in my kitchen so I just bumped the ISO right on up to 6400 on my camera.  There’s definitely lots of grain in these pictures, but that’s alright.  You can still see at what point my camera started to “freeze” the water.

Here’s my first picture with the slowest shutter speed:

1/60 sec{1/60 sec, 6400 ISO}

1000{1/1000 sec, 6400 ISO}

1/2000 sec{1/2000 sec, 6400 ISO}

How cool is that third picture?  Not only can you actually see the drops of water splashing off the bowl, but the water coming out of the faucet looks amazeballs!

What I’ve Learned:

1. You can’t do this assignment with your flash.  It took me a minute to figure out that if I wanted super fast shutter speeds I had to ditch the flash.

2. The faster the shutter speed the darker the picture… and hot damn that blows in a condo with crappy lighting.  I have a few more pictures I want to try to take now that I’m learning how to really utilize my shutter speed, but I’m going to have to wait for a super sunny day.

3. Once you’re done this assignment, check out Lesson 2 Part 2 and prepare to have your mind BLOWN!  I love to shoot in Manual, but I always panic when I get outside.  Well HOLY DSLR CAMERA, it all finally CLICKED!  Between my better understanding of the exposure triangle and the nifty little trick with the exposure meter, I can suddenly shoot in Manual outside!  Check me out…

This was what *used* to happen when I took my pictures in Manual outside:


{I kid you not.  Every.Single.Time}

And look at me now…


I’m not over exposed!  OMG!!! 🙂  I have a lot more to learn and lots of practicing in my future, but I am so unbelievably happy right now and can’t wait til it gets a little warmer so I can take the Lil Dude out for a fauxtoshoot.

Good luck with Week 2 everyone.  I can’t wait to see your results!  Next week: The Color of Light.



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  1. Pingback: 12 Weeks to Better Photos: Week Three, The Color of Light « Christen {hearts} Pinterest

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