“Leave the shutters open a little, dear…I’d like to let some light in this dreary house.”

No, that’s not a quote from anything, so far as I’m aware, but we’ve been watching Bridgerton of late so I’ve got that kind of pseudo-Regency era rhythm in my ear. But I am thinking about shutters of late: one shutter in particular, actually. The shutter in my Lumix FZ1000 Mark ii camera!

Shutter speed is one of the three big factors in the management of light that make up photography. Shutter speed is one of the ways one controls how much light, or how little, arrives on one’s camera sensor–but where ISO is an adjustment of sensor sensitivity and aperture size is an adjustment of how much light can pass through the lens to land on the sensor, shutter speed determines how long the available light has to hit the sensor. Shutter speed is how you freeze action: you use a very fast shutter speed to allow light to pass through the lens for a tiny fraction of a second, thus capturing something in the instant it happens. Shutter speed is also, though, how you elongate action, by allowing the light of a moving object to pass through the lens for a long enough time to make a blur in the final image.

So far in my photographic journey, I’ve found aperture size and ISO easier to understand and manage to achieve effects than shutter speed, for various reasons. While I’ve been able to use very fast shutter speeds to freeze objects like a running greyhound, slowing the shutter down to accomplish things like silky-smooth waterfalls or blurred objects has eluded me for the most part, mainly because slow shutter speeds on my camera tend to result in blown-out images because I can’t stop down the aperture or reduce my ISO far enough to overcome the extra light being allowed to hit the sensor. I’ve only had very limited success at this so far, mainly in the forest where it’s already darkened by the tree canopy.

It turns out that the main way around this is an accessory: a filter called an ND filter (neutral density) that cuts down the light entering the lens enough to allow you to slow the shutter down. Now, ND filters come in differing “intensities” (I have a feeling there’s a better term for it that I don’t yet know), and the cheap one that I recently bought is on the weak side, so it’s not going to be super effective. But I’ll get some better ones eventually, once I’m better at all this. Meanwhile, I managed to take this photo yesterday whilst standing on an overpass in town, and I’m quite happy with the result!

Not a super-thrilling photo, by any means, but practice shots are fun, especially when you’re learning something new. The goal is to be able to produce results like this, by Kenneth Hines Jr., a photographer who is quickly becoming one of my main sources of inspiration in this new area:


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A post shared by Kenneth Hines, Jr. (@professorhines)

Onward and upward!


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