Sunday, December 04, 2005

Photography Help Needed

I would love some tips of how to photograph food to get a good clear picture with nice bright lighting. Just ordered my first digital camera and have no idea about photography. Hoping to add some nice pics to the blog. any tips appreciated! TIA!

Michele from Chef Michele's Adventures


grace said...

photography isnt that complicated with digicams infact it is very convenient. Just need some tricks, but first get a good quality cam.

gotta get basic skills like steady hands, halfpress the shutter for 3 seconds and then full press. This way, it allows the lens to capture all details of the subject.

Hold ur breath when u press the shutter, it helps to avoid ur hands from moving.

Make a good composition first, like how u can turn ugly things into a nice one.. the subject I mean.

Lighting - sunshine is the best source of light. outdoor shots are a lot better than indoor. Take ur shots near a window where some natural light comes in. Get an angle where no shadows if possible.

Edit the contrast and brightness in the computer.. it helps a lot.

paul said...

A few basic tips -

Never use the built in flash unless there's no other lights, and you don't mind harsh shadows and flat light.

Get a bean bag, stuffed animal, coffee cup, mini-tripod or other object to sit the camera on. Food photography usually involves slow shutter speeds and you don't want the camera to move. If you need to hold your breath (i.e. shooting in a restaurant) hold it, focus, frame, let the breath out without breathing back in, shoot. The body's much more relaxed at that point. I learned that from an old photojournalist, or was it an old SWAT sniper? I forget.

Set up a mini studio. Cheap clip-on lights with the reflectors from the hardware store, and something as a reflector- big white cutting boards work well.

Learn about color balance, and figure out how to set your camera's incandescent feature to compensate for the yellow cast of light bulbs.

Steal composition tricks from food magazines and other food bloggers.

Rachael said...

I am much more amateur than Grace and Paul, (most of that is over my head)
So I will just say what I know.

Look at your camera and you will notice there will be a few different "settings" listed, the one most useful will be macro. (On my camera, its indicated with a symbol of a flower) This allows you to take up close pictures of small things (food).

Like they said, natural light will always work best, so find a nice smooth flat surface in your house that gets good light and take pictures there.

I also sometimes tape a large piece of white paper to the wall that slopes down to the counter. Then I put my plate of food on the paper on the counter. The paper creates an "infinite" backround. It looks super cool.

Good luck and have fun!


Elise said...

1. Never ever ever use your camera's flash. (Unless you are a photography pro and really know what you are doing.)

2. Use the macro setting on your camera.

3. If using natural light, use a well-lit room, but do not have the sunlight fall directly on the food or anywhere within the frame of the photo.

4. If using a light indoors, use a desk lamp and aim it to the side of what you are photographing - this will create shadows and texture.

5. Use a tripod, or hold the camera steady without breathing.

6. Take lots of photos (I usually take about 20 per shot) at different angles. The best angles are from the side, not top down.

7. Use simple, attractive, un-busy plates to show off your food.

8. Use a editing tool such as Photoshop or Photoelements to adjust the levels, contrast, saturation of the photos. You can also use the blur tool to blur out a little of the background, and the sharpen tool to sharpen what you want in focus.

9. Use the "Save for web" feature of Photoshop (or something similar in Photo Elements) and try to save the image at a reasonably small size to make it fast for viewing on your website. All of my images are less than 15.5 Kb.

10. Finally, if the photo doesn't make you want to eat the food right off your computer screen, don't publish it. It is better to have no photo than one that looks unappetizing.

FJK said...

I am no expert, but I've been saved by the fact that my camera has a setting called "cuisine" that really makes a difference for those close up food porn shots. Much less reflection and light bounce and truer colors.

Of course, it took me months to figure out that I a- had such a setting and b - how to use it!

Michele said...

Thanks so much everyone for the wonderful advice! I cannot wait to get some pics up on my blog... camera should arrive this week... so excited!

drbiggles said...

Make a quick trip to your local library and pick up a book on basic photography. Whether you're shooting food, commercial or artsy fartsy shots, there are some basic rules that need to be applied. Rule of thirds, don't bullseye the subject, mergers and the horizon shouldn't go in the center of your photograph, that jolly ol' rot.
Get a tripod.
Pull out your food mags and study the images. How did the light the subject, what effects to you see? What do you like and what don't you like about the image?
Take the camera with you everywhere and take pictures every day. Study your work to see what you like and odn't like and how you'd do it different next time. Take notes.
It also helps to frame some of your work and get it on the wall. Start saving your pennies to get yourself some photography lighting, flood lights and so forth. Having to rely on the sun's ability to give you what you want, when you want it over a certain period of time is just asking for problems and most certainly grief. Especially this time of year when our daylight is going away early.


2-minute Noodle Cook said...

A useful photographer's blog is found here. Scroll to the section "Food Photography Topics" and select topic of interest. Paul's lighting suggestion seems ideal unless you are doing paid work :)

Andrew said...

There is a very good book you might like to look at. I have reviewed it on the digital photo blog I write for occasionally

Elise said...

Hi Andrew - I bought that Digital Photography book and actually have not found it that useful. There are lots of tricks for the aspiring professional food photographer, but many of these tricks aren't helpful to me, who eats the food she photographs. It did help illuminate why so many glossy food photos I see look so fake - it's because they are!

Michele said...

I figured some shots must be fake... saw a story on 20/20 years ago about how glue is used as milk in food photos for the texture and sesame seeds and such smaller items are glued in place. Hoping to create some shots that are actually edible, LOL.

Rachel said...

I have just graduated from culinary school and love taking pictures of food. Where do I go from here with no previous background for photography and be succesful? What do I do with my pictures? Thanks.

L said...

I've started up a food photography blog for tips and's just getting started, but if you have any questions, feel free to send them my way. I'll do my best to answer them!

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Rebecca N. Hassan said...

oh wow this is almost like a help forum! tips were really helpful!

Groupdmt said...

I really appreciate the idea behind this great post.You are doing a fine job.Keep it up.

Ruby said...

I just started my food blog (after years of putting it off). My concern is that I don't have a DSLR. My wrists can't handle the weight (regardless of a tripod) and I find the features overwhelming.

I enhance my photos with various programs. Do others face this challenge as well?

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