Camera Basics: Understanding Exposure Time & Using Shutter Priority Mode for Better Photos (VIDEO)

Lately we’ve been featuring tutorials from a helpful series explaining the inner workings of a camera, intended to help photographers take better photos. This new episode, from Christian Tudor of the Academy of Photography, reviews the concept of exposure time and explains how and when to use a camera’s Shutter Priority exposure mode.

If you always shoot in Auto, or prefer to use your camera’s Aperture Priority or Program exposure modes, there will likely be situations in which you’ll either miss the shot or capture an image that could have been more effective if you had begun by setting an appropriate shutter speed.

The 12-minute video below provides a simple explanation of the Shutter Priority mode, in which you select a shutter speed that best matches the scene at hand. Then you lock in an ISO setting and let the camera calculate the corresponding f/stop that yields a perfect exposure.

The goal of this tutorial is to give you total control of a camera’s Shutter Priority mode, while understanding which shutter speeds work best with different types of photographs. As you’ll see, while many photographers think this exposure mode is only intended for freezing action, it can also be a great choice for night photography, street shooting, macro, and more.

You can find more shooting tips on the Academy of Photography YouTube channel. We recently posted the previous episode in this camera basics series, explaining how a camera’s focusing system works, and it’s well worth a look.