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Thread: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

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    Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    I was thinking today about the effects of the shutter (other than control of motion blur and exposure). At some point in time someone told me that longer shutter times allow colors to "soak in" creating more saturated/vibrant images. Is there any truth to this? What effect (if any) does the shutter have on color?

    Thanks,

    Kent

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Sticking my neck out, I'd say that sounds like rubbish

    Coloured light is just different frequencies of radiation which are filtered and received by the sensor's pixels.
    The speed light travels and the frequencies of radiation are huge (by millions of times) in comparison to to shutter speed.

    Sorry to dispel the myth (one I'd not heard before),

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Perhaps this "lower shutter speeds equal more saturation" claim originated because scenes which are not as brightly lit often appear more saturated. Take mid-day light versus light during the golden hour, or a bright lamp versus candle light, for example. However, this is all due to the type of lighting (contrast, white balance, etc), as opposed to being caused by anything inherent in the shutter speed. Further, there's also many counter examples where less light instead corresponds with less saturation.

    However, if your image is under-exposed (due to the shutter speed being too fast), then it WILL appear less saturated -- even under identical lighting. On the other hand, an over-exposed image can also appear washed out and less saturated, so the shutter speed trend doesn't always hold true there either.

    Overall: this is untrue, as Dave says...but I can perhaps see where the confusion originated.

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    The only relationship between saturation and shutterspeed that I'm aware of is that each colour has a "sweet spot" in terms of exposure; eg if you've got a pale blue sky - and you want a rich, deep blue, then under-expose it by a couple of stops.

    Out of interest, I found a couple of (very interesting) Joe McNally video clips on you tube last night that illustrate this perfectly. If you get a chance, watch them - you might think that the shots won't look that great whilst he's taking them - but have a look at what pops out the other end (at the end) and see if you change your mind).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90mlK8ktV68

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7qEgl2uQHg

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    I figured as much, thanks for the debunk Still makes me wonder how people are getting these super-saturated shots though - HDR/filters/lots of PP? I know theres no magic bullet but I'd really be interested in learning some workflows for those almost surreal super vivid shots (Would make a great tutorial!)

    Side note: Apparently Youtube is blocked at work, so I'll give it a look when I get home

  6. #6

    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by KentDub View Post
    I figured as much, thanks for the debunk Still makes me wonder how people are getting these super-saturated shots though - HDR/filters/lots of PP? I know theres no magic bullet but I'd really be interested in learning some workflows for those almost surreal super vivid shots (Would make a great tutorial!)

    Side note: Apparently Youtube is blocked at work, so I'll give it a look when I get home
    I do lots of super-saturated colour shots, and I can assure you that most of it is done in Photoshop from RAW files. Have a look at my reflection shots for example http://www.carregwenimages.com/secti...30_224549.html If you want to know how I do it, I can do a few lines on it tomorrow. I've had enough today!

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    If you want to know how I do it, I can do a few lines on it tomorrow. I've had enough today!
    That would be awsome! I'm always in the mood to learn new techniques. Thanks

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Out of interest, I found a couple of (very interesting) Joe McNally video clips on you tube last night that illustrate this perfectly. If you get a chance, watch them - you might think that the shots won't look that great whilst he's taking them - but have a look at what pops out the other end (at the end) and see if you change your mind).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90mlK8ktV68

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7qEgl2uQHg
    Hi Colin, nice videos. I know this guy likes flashes a lot, but isn't there any other/better way of using flash, I mean a bigger strobe like anyone else uses? I know he is a professional but with all of those flashes looks like he is trying to show off! Why is he not using a few more powerful flashes?

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    Why is he not using a few more powerful flashes?
    Hi Ali,

    If he had something more powerful available they may have worked OK for the static/posed shots, but they wouldn't have worked for anything with motion (as in the 2nd video) because you need a high shutterspeed to freeze the motion (usually 1/640th or above), and the highest speed that you'll be able to sync with with external lights is usually about 1/125th (the flash will - in itself - freeze motion, but he's got a mix of about 50/50 flash/ambient here).

    The reason you need a bunch of them is not so much that they lack the power, but they lose a lot of power when in FP / HSS mode (ie when synced above about 1/250th).

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Why do you lose power with faster syncs? Do the lights stay on during the exposure instead of flashing? (Longer time = less power?)

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by KentDub View Post
    Why do you lose power with faster syncs? Do the lights stay on during the exposure instead of flashing? (Longer time = less power?)
    Yes.

    A normal mode flash is about 1/2000th, but above X-Sync speed both curtains aren't open at the same time, so the unit pulses the light at about 50Khz, which isn't as efficient.

    The higher the shutter speed, the less power.

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by KentDub View Post
    That would be awsome! I'm always in the mood to learn new techniques. Thanks
    I posted a new thread in reply to this. Hope you find it useful. Getting super-rich colours that make an image pop

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Another reason why many small is better than one large would be DR, or disaster recovery.
    If one flash fails and it's the only one you have (and you are several hours into the desert), then the day may be a write off
    If it is just one of ten, the shoot can proceed and the loss hardly be noticeable.

    Just an engineer's perspective

    Did you guess I watched the vidoes too?

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Did you guess I watched the vidoes too?
    I have to admit to being quite intrigued by the freezing of the action shots - I've been thinking of how I might be able to have a crack at something like that myself.

    Stay tuned

  15. #15

    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by KentDub View Post
    I was thinking today about the effects of the shutter (other than control of motion blur and exposure). At some point in time someone told me that longer shutter times allow colors to "soak in" creating more saturated/vibrant images. Is there any truth to this? What effect (if any) does the shutter have on color?

    Thanks,

    Kent
    sounds daft to me

    the trick to getting saturated colours is to get the exposure bang on and to shoot in direct sunlight and to use a polariser ( if you want really saturated colours)

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by I Simonius View Post
    sounds daft to me
    I agree.

    the trick to getting saturated colours is to get the exposure bang on and to shoot in direct sunlight and to use a polariser ( if you want really saturated colours)
    Varying the exposure has a BIG effect on saturation because all colours wash out more the higher the tone level (past an "ideal point"). Polarisers sure help - but - they give uneven effects on wide angle lenses (and also contribute to vignetting and/or outright obstruction with WA and UWA lenses where there are other filters also being used).

  17. #17

    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I agree.



    Varying the exposure has a BIG effect on saturation because all colours wash out more the higher the tone level (past an "ideal point"). Polarisers sure help - but - they give uneven effects on wide angle lenses (and also contribute to vignetting and/or outright obstruction with WA and UWA lenses where there are other filters also being used).
    I would agree but polarisers only really show their uneven coverage in the skies, whereas on other subjects the uneven coverage at UWA is less noticable.

    When I said getting the exposure bang on I mean to meter for the colour-subject required in the shot and often it;s better to close down one stop for darker colours or better still bracket

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    I shoot a lot at 1/60th of a second in lowlight conditions at ISO800, handheld, usually inside with stage lighting, and get saturated colors quite often. I have always wondered why myself!
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    Last edited by Benboxer; 10th November 2009 at 02:23 AM.

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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    BenBoxer - High ISO will change color (due to noise), but I've never read that saturation is the end result. The issues you're seeing here may be more due to less than optimum white balance (where you using Auto?), which is often extremely difficult to nail down under stage lighting.

  20. #20
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    Re: Effect of shutter speed on saturation

    I can see how it might be misunderstood since as already mentioned the sweet spots for some colours can make a bigger visual impact. For instance I find mainly shooting of a night or few hours after or before sunset that after I get vibrant colours on longer shutter speed that I would miss taking the photo in a manner that captures the scene at a speed that results in something more like as my eyes see it.

    Logic dictates that the colours are identical but because of the higher luma it can make colours look more vibrant in some cases. This is especially true for night shots such as regular speed may give a blue sky that looks murky and almost black and the blue isn't so perceptible where as a longer exposure might give an unusually vibrant (for nightscape especially) blue which is precisely the same shade but higher luminance.

    I can see how some who don't understand image data, cam sensors and light and so on may fall into the trap of thinking that more colours are somehow captured even though logically they are capturing/sampling colour data from an identical sample of light/scene and shutter speed compared to light speed means that wont be a factor so really there isn't any way they could "catch" more colour than there are to be captured. I admit it is a new one on me too although I'm no photographer.

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