Understanding shutter speed is a must for any photographer at any level, but for a food photographer it has to be one of the most important tools. There are many situations when shooting in restaurants where your knowledge of shutter speed will come into play. Shutter speed is the length of time digital sensor inside the camera is exposed to light, also when a camera’s shutter is open when taking a photograph. The amount of light that reaches the film or image sensor is proportional to the exposure time.
Here are three examples of how it can make your work stand out.
Trying to photograph that moment when the barman is filling their measure or garnishing the drink can be difficult. Low light and fast hands aren’t easy to capture, this is where a fast shutter (usually anything over 1/300) and a flash can take your work to another level.
The kitchen is a notoriously difficult place to take photographs – unlike with plated food, your subject is constantly on the move. You want to seize that split-second as the chef drops that steak on the grill or drizzles oil in the pan. Just as with cocktails, you will need to counter the low light and high shutter speed with a flash, you will never miss a moment.
It’s not easy to capture movement in a still image – the use of a slow shutter speed can help you achieve just this. Unlike with a fast shutter speed this time you aren’t looking for a crisp photograph. You want the blur, but it needs to be controlled. If you are using a shutter speed under 1/60 you will need to be using a tri-pod, this will stop the whole image being a blur. To create movement in the image you will need to focus on a still object, once you take your photo everything else that is moving will be a blur.