Understanding Shutter Speed & an ANNOUNCEMENT

Understanding Shutter Speed & an ANNOUNCEMENT

Come June 2021, I would officially be blogging for 4 years now. Time flies and how! I am not the one to show perseverance but that is one trait blogging has taught me and how! It has taken a while but here I am, nowhere close to my goal but a long way from where I started.And that for me is a great feat to celebrate.

And celebrating we are! Why “we” not “I” you might wonder. In order to answer that question, I will have to backtrack a little.

Meera( https://7saffronstreet.com, Preethi (https://cookingwithpree.com) and I have been friends on instagram since a couple of years now.  From being ardent lovers of food to becoming bloggers and eventually morphing into food photographers we’ve had very similar journeys. Along the way we’ve experienced our own learnings, hurdles and wins. When we look back at our starting points and look forward at our future milestones, one thing stands out as a common and strong goal for all three of us.  It is the passion to teach and spread the knowledge back into the community where we derived it from. And this is what our little celebration is about- Giving back! ‘Coz if you ask me, there is no better way to celebrate but by sharing and growing together.

To give a shape to this goal, nurture and propel it continually, we are launching a food photography club called “The Food Foto Club” on Instagram. Through this club we intend to power up your food photography journey by sharing our experience and guidance periodically. We will also invite experts in the field from time to time to share their wisdom.

That’s not all, each time we share, we welcome you all to share your images based on the learnings with us. And last but not the least exciting giveaways from time to time too.

I truly hope that this initiative of ours will make your photography journey a tad easier and much more fun! ‘Coz isn’t learning a lot more easier when one is having FUN?

To kick off this collaboration we decided to start from the very basics- The Golden Triangle- breaking down the three pillars of Food Photography for you. While Meera and Preethi will share about Aperture and ISO respectively, in this post I am going to demystify  SHUTTER SPEED.

Breaking Down Shutter Speed

Camera is similar to the human eye in many ways. It plays with light and forms images just like our eyes do. Just like the iris in human eye shrinks and enlarges thereby controlling the amount of light that enters the eye, a camera’s shutter opens and shuts to control the amount of light entering the camera. And how quickly or slowly it opens and shuts, decides the amount of light entering the camera.

Impact on Exposure

This speed of shutting and opening of the shutter is typically measured in fractions of a second. For example, 1/4 means a quarter of a second, while 1/250 means one-two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second (or four milliseconds), which means when your camera is set at 1/4 shutter speed, the shutter closes considerably slower than when it is set at 1/250.

And as you might have guessed by now, longer the shutter stays open, more amount of light comes in resulting in brighter and more exposed images ; conversely , faster the shutter speed, relatively lesser amount of light comes in and resulting image is relatively less bright.

“Shutter Speed is a Fraction

But let that not be a Distraction

Decrease the Denominator

And make your images Brighter.”

The six images below are an illustration of how shutter speed effects exposure. All images have been shot at ISO 400 and Aperture f/4.0.

As you can see with reducing shutter speed the image gets more exposed.

Impact on Capturing Degree of Motion

Shutter Speed has a two pronged effect- not only does it effect the level of exposure as explained above but it also affects the degree of movement captured. A faster shutter speed(1/200 and above) captures movement in a more crisp fashion and allows for less motion blur (as illustrated in the first image below).Whereas a slower shutter speed (because the shutter is open for longer) will allow for more motion blur (as illustrated in the last image below).

As you may have guessed by now, while capturing motion is a skill we do want to learn as food photographers, using extremely high (1/1000 and higher) or extremely low (1/8 and lower)speeds is very rare. However creativity follows no rules and it is good to know the technicalities in order to bring our creative vision to life.

In below illustrations I share 4 images at 4 different shutter speeds- 1/200 sec,1/15 sec, 1/4 sec and 1 second. Do note for shutter speeds higher than 1/200 , to avoid shake and a blurry image a tripod is required. Also, I have modified the ISO to control exposure so images are not over or under exposed with changing shutter speeds. Aperture is fixed at f/5.6.

Take time to observe how the stream of milk looks different with changing shutter speed.

As you can see with reducing shutter speed the milk stream tends to freeze more.

You could try out the same yourself with a similar subject or even with flour, sugar, flour, steam or smoke.

I am going to leave you with a question to ponder on- In what food/still life photography scenarios is motion blur a good thing?


Want to dig a tad deeper and understand how Direction of Light impacts your images? Download my free E-Book here.

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