"Let the light shine in!"
The camera shutter is simply a slide opening that allows light to enter your camera from your aparture for a controlled amount of time. It is one of the most important components of the camera for many reasons.
If the light is let in for too long for the lighting conditions and apatrure setting, it can cause blow out. This is an highly overaccented display of light sorces (everything is too bright).
On the other hand, if not enough light is let in the picture will seem too dark and many wanted details will be missing. Most cameras now have an auto setting that will keep this from happening, but I would recommend experimenting with the manual settings.
Camera shutter settings are usually in the fractions of a second. They may appear as 30, 60, ... 1000, 2000, but the higher the number the lower the amout of time the it will be open. It coresponds to 1/30, 1/60,...1/1000, 1/2000 of a second.
Most SLRs will have a manual setting here that will allow you to keep the shutter open for as long as you want. This is useful with landscape photography and time extended effects that show a comparison between a stationary object and movement in its surroundings.
The biggest advantage to high shutter speeds is the effect of freezing motion. The only problem with this is that there has to be plenty of light or the aperture setting has to be increased. If the aperture setting is increased, the deapth of field will be decteased.
The shots to the right show what a difference a faster shutter speed can make when photographing sports activities. Just make sure that you compensate with a faster film setting and possibly increasing the aperture opening.
This mixed with the probability of having to use a telephoto lens may seem intimidating, but it is worth the practice. Freezing action in a close-up shot at an athletic event can show great detail in muscle form that cannot be seen with the naked eye during the event.
If you get a chance to, prefocus your lens on an object that you know will have action at that spot. Example... water at the base of a diving bord, a marked point in a boxing ring, the crossbar on a hurdle track. This will give you a better chance of your subject being in focus when the time is right.
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