Monday, April 14, 2014


Shutter Speed  & ISO 

I am way behind on posting an update on my 365 days challenge. I just have a lot  on my plate, most of my project are going on track but managing a time line for each is seriously not my forte. It’s funny how everyone works so differently, Despite having all the gadgets, I still write down all my to-dos for the week and track all my dead lines in my diary. Hubs just does not get my style of working, he insist that putting then down on an electronic format will reduce the time I spend on planning. I feel so insecure to not have it on paper. It’s working ! So, that’s all there is to it. ;) This is a post from some scribbles from my diary.

 We were talking about the basics of photography and decoding the manual setting on your camera in our pervious 365 days post.  To understand that we had to brush up or learn in some case the basics of all that there is to use the manual settings of our camera, so we can manipulate and use it to our advantage.

A quick re-cap…. there are 4 basic controls, that you need to know.

White Balance

Aperture : is the size of opening of the lens. That determines the amount of light that gets into the sensor…in other words the opening is more, more  light. We went in detail about aperture and DOF. Click here to read that

Moving on …..

Shutter Speed 

Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open.

Shutter speed is calculated in fraction of seconds 1/4S, 1/30S, 1/1000S the bigger the denominator the faster it is. If the shutter is open for a longer amount of time you will get more light, however if it is open for less time you get less light. In other words, the faster the shutter: lesser the light. The slower the shutter: more light. BUT, the lower the shutter speed the more the hand shake is visible (image has a blur/shake).  For me anything below 1/60S, I need a tripod. 

Get your camera. Put it on manual setting. Keep the Aperture to F/4.0 and play with the shutter. 
Together with shutter speed (amount of time the shutter is open for light to come in)and aperture ( opening of the lens to allow the light to come in) you can really control the play of light.  Remember different combinations can create similar light but different mood, as we spoke about Depth of Field in our last post. 

 Shutter is a great tool to play around in action photography. Car racing, bikes, race tracks etc  However in food photography, if you want a image of maple syrup being poured on a stack of pan cakes it’s a great tool to use. Or if you want to capture water flowing over fresh fruits. Shutter speed can create quite the magic. At higher shutter speed you can almost freeze the movement of the maple syrup or water. On lower speed it can create a soft look. I think I can explain better with images. 

Here you go…
See the water almost froze in action at 1/1000Second whereas in 1/10 Sec it shows movement. This is perhaps the only application of shutter I can think of in food photography. However, shutter does play an important role in managing light. 
#ShutterSpeedTutorial #PhotographyBasics #FoodPhotographyTutorial #ISOTutorial

In digital photography ISO is the sensitivity of the image sensor. In a dark room, with very little light pumping up the ISO may be a good strategy to get some good light in to image. 
Lower ISO : Less sensitive to light : finer the grains
Higher ISO: More sensitive to light : grainy and noisier the image

If you want a razor sharp image, 100 ISO is the way to go. I have used a very high ISO on the image on the right, to show the graininess. You may never have to go that high, but sometimes ISO can be used to create an artistic impression. 
#ShutterSpeedTutorial #PhotographyBasics #FoodPhotographyTutorial #ISOTutorial ial

Now, that leaves us with WB (white balance) am going to work on that in my next post of 365. I have also got requests to do post on behind the scenes, specially the dark and moody photographs. Will try and put it together as soon as I can . 

Now for some images from March 
#SutterSpeedTutorial #PhtographyBasics #FoodPhtographyTutorial #ISOTutorial
March16, 2014 - look at the DOF 

#ShutterSpeedTutorial #PhotographyBasics #FoodPhotographyTutorial #ISOTutorial
March17, 2014 

#ShutterSpeedTutorial #PhotographyBasics #FoodPhotographyTutorial #ISOTutorial
March18, 2014 the edge of the plate almost blends to the background, playing with aperture to create the shallow DOF.
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cherry n Ginger Sorbet

#CherryGingerSorbet, #CherrySorbet, #SorbetFromScratch
I just love this time of the year, perfect nippy mornings and cool afternoons, the birds chirping and the trees waiting to sprout the greens, the snow the blizzards and the sub zeros are finally behind us. I can’t wait for the cherry blossom to start booming and fill the air. I feel like a child who is just going to be awarded a big cup cake… love the cool spring breeze in my hair and those bare toes against the cold grass…if I can hold back time, this would be that moment. As I grow older, I have learnt to slow down and enjoy the little things, back then….all I remember of spring is my parents planning the garden. Meticulous planning with multiple trips to the nursery. I would only be allowed to water the saplings under close supervision of my dad’s hawk eyes. It was a chore I was proud of, and as as the slapping grew and bloomed, it would give me so much happiness.  Those little moments, become so precious and cherished. Looking back, is always a mixed feelings, I can’t believe that I refer to it in the past, it was just yesterday that I had drenched my dad with the hose and my mother was giving me ’the look’ through the screen door. In a blink of an eye, time slips through my fingers like sand. “How did it get so late so soon?” - Dr Seuss

#CherryGingerSorbet, #CherrySorbet, #SorbetFromScratch

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Painting prop boards - a tutorial

#PaintingPropBoards #PAintingPropBoardsTutorial

#PaintingPropBoards #PAintingPropBoardsTutorial

I must pat myself on the back, I promised you guys a blogpost on prop boards and here it is. After shooting 5 ingredients for a book and the cleaning up that goes with it ( which I almost despise) I am ready to take the rest of the day off. Am excited to share this post with you, so after I hit publish on this post, am going to put my feet up and relax. I just love painting boards ! I can pretend to be an artist…! I have always seen my mother work with oils, charcoal, graphite and even embroidery. My mother and sister are amazing artists, you can view my mother’s portfolio here. If you clicked on the link, and saw what you saw, you will know why I said  amazing…these boards seem lame right.

Thanks for all the queries and requests that prompted me to write this post… I hope I will be able to explain and if you have any questions, just  let me know and I will try to answer them. I hope I inspire you to go and paint some boards and don’t forget to leave me a link or share a picture of your board.

I have used two techniques here, there are many techniques and it's your artistic decision. Dry brushing and wet on wet is what I usually use.  If you are not good with picking colors use a color wheel and complimentary colors on the color wheel really work well together. Just play around, if you do not like it you can always repaint it.

Note : paints can dry darker or lighter then they appear when they are wet. So, if you are looking for a specific color and are picky make sure you take that into account. When you mix two colors, you get a third color that is a blend of the two, so if you are going with blue and yellow you will have a green there.

You can paint on both side of a board.

For solid colors I usually use foam board, as they are so much easy to carry on a client site.

ply wood or any kind of wood with some texture. Foam if solid color.  
paint - I usually use interior home paint, get samples from the hardware store - it’s about 4-5$ for a sample. If you get lucky you might find something in clearance for as low as 50cents. Specially gray, most times when a color is not mixed properly it is gray and you will find it in clearance.
Brush - again, I got one from the hardware store
rag cloth - it really helps reduce the mess.

Dry brush 

Pick two colors. Clean the wood and paint the basic color on the ply wood, I usually paint the darker color first. Don’t have to be very precise.  You can also do the light first as the base- it’s your board. The main color will be the second color.
Let it dry, preferably 2-3 hours.

#PaintingPropBoards #PAintingPropBoardsTutorial

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spiced Butter Milk - Chaas

#YogurtDrink #Buttermilk #SpicedButterMilk #Chaas #SaltedLassi #HowToPreserveCurryLeaf #CurryLeafPowder
#YogurtDrink #Buttermilk #SpicedButterMilk #Chaas #SaltedLassi #HowToPreserveCurryLeaf #CurryLeafPowder

Thanks a lot for all the encouraging comments, re-shares on Fb and google plus. If you don’t know what am talking about, you can read this. I was really touched. Thanks guys! Virtual hug.

Last week was the week of spring break and we took couple of days off, a very relaxing vacation. It’s amazing how we take ourselves for granted and work like crazy, till we take a break and realize how badly we needed one.  The two days were spent lazing around with magazines, searching for inspiration. And I think I got more than what I asked for. Sometimes it baffles me how talented people can be, so creative, bursting with ideas and inspiring…all at the same time. I wish one day I can create that kind of magic.

Chaas or spiced butter milk is a staple beverage in our house, it is ALWAYS there, specially in the summer months and is often substituted as water. The health benefits are immense, it is great for digestion, keeps you hydrated and the goodness of curry leaf, cumin and ginger cannot be undermined. What prompted this post was a query on Fb regarding storing and using curry leaves. What I do is wash the curry leaves, dry them on a towel overnite and leave them to air dry, when they become completely dry ( crunchy to touch) I blend them into a fine powder and sieve and store in airtight container, they are good for a couple of month and then they start loosing their aroma. If they do not dry well, slow roast them on a pan, cool then powder it.  They can be used for for daal, rasam, splice blends and a lot more. I have even tried it in dessert, recipe coming soon.

Curry leaf should not be confused with curry powder. Curry leaf is a herb used  in south Indian cooking. It’s said to be a high source of Iron. Am not a nutritionist, but have always heard my mother say it’s rich in iron and good for my liver, eat it up. It’s very aromatic and a small amount goes a long way, specially if you have powdered it.

#YogurtDrink #Buttermilk #SpicedButterMilk #Chaas #SaltedLassi #HowToPreserveCurryLeaf #CurryLeafPowder

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Culinary Optics - My monthly column on The Daily Meal

I was absolutely thrilled to get an opportunity to write a photography column for The Daily Meal. I call it ‘Culinary Optics’, and as the name suggests, it’s all about food and the art of capturing food, a topic very close to my heart. It’s a monthly column and I am counting on you guys to help me shape it, so please leave me comments, criticism and reactions. It’s going to help me a lot.

This month I’m featuring Ilva Berretta. Her work is an inspiration and to say that her rendition of styling is out of the box is an understatement  - she always baffles me with her creativity and I often wonder how her mind works so uniquely. 

Trying to decode her creativity, here is a teaser. Read the complete article here.

An excerpt from the write-up…

Ilva “Three words that means a lot to me as a photographer: growth, light, and harmony. Growth is very important to me, both as a person and as a photographer, I always try to evolve, to grow and get better, to try new ways and never sit back and feel complaisant about what I am doing but to move onwards and to challenge myself to do better. I am obsessed by light and I think it can be seen in my photos, light is so beautiful, be it strong or subtle. I also strive for creating images filled with harmony of some sort, the actual act of creating a photo is one of harmony to me, it is like a visual puzzle, all things has to fall into place and then I can feel in the pit of my stomach that the photo is right

 Ilva: “People often ask me about which is the best lens to shoot food with, I prefer the prime lenses I mentioned above because in my opinion they are better for shooting food and still lifes but I think it is a matter of personal taste, whatever feels good to you and is within your price range. If you are doing it as a hobby you can usually use what you have, when you start selling your photos you may need to upgrade.

Ilva "Think of how you want the light to fall and how much of it you want, use reflectors to accentuate and lighten dark parts or the food you are shooting or screens to reduce lights and scrims to diffuse harsh light. Play around with the camera a bit, try different angles and go closer if you are not satisfied with how it looks, it usually helps.

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