Friday, August 03, 2007

Help with Photography

Hi everyone,

I'm a newbie here and I have learned so much from reading through past posts. What a wonderful resource for food bloggers everywhere!

I need help with photography. I have been posting for awhile and admiring the pohtography on other food blogs. I fear I cannot emulate them as I have but a humble digital camera from a few years ago. I cannot afford an SLR and do not foresee getting one anytime soon. So how can I make my cooking look good in the meantime?

I have a Sony 4 mega pixel digital camera and unfortunately for me and my readers this is how it's going to be for the foreseeable future. I've taken into account previous advise in terms of avoiding flash and using natural light, but my pictures are still sub-par.

I welcome all advice, as I am really at a loss where to go from here. Thankfully I have a good group of regulars who seem to be happy with my meager offerings, but I want to do better. I am but a housewife who can cook, yet I want to portray my food as the best it can be, but in the current circumstances I am at a loss.

All advice gratefully accepted!


This Post was written by Deborah from The Humble Housewife


Vanessa said...

Deborah, I don't use a SLR either. I've got a tiny little 5mp Kodak v530 and I won't trade it for anything. It's all about the light and the options available to you. Read the camera's manual and use what you've got. My camera has a close-up mode for anything within 24" so I usually use that. I'm always aware of my light source and I shoot outside when I can.

Sometimes I set my options manually. Point and shoot cameras are designed to focus on faces or multiple objects so I often set it to focus on the center of the frame.

I also do post-shoot photo manipulation with software like Picasa and then an open-source program called's like Adobe Photoshop only free. There is tons to learn about this stuff..neutral tones, unsharp mask, hue saturation...dive in and you'll get the hang of it.

Lastly I suggest that you check out what others do. is a great place to begin...but keep in mind that many of those photos are digitally enhanced with software manipulation.

Have fun!

Haalo said...

Hi Deborah - The biggest mistake anyone can make is thinking that it's the price of the camera that determines photo quality. I use both a point and shoot and SLR in my blog and you wouldn't be able to pick the difference.
It sounds like your issue is more one to do with food styling rather than photography and if in doubt with styling, just keep it simple.
Other than that just follow Vanessa's advice and use a tripod to eliminate any camera blur.
Most of all just keep taking photos.

Janet said...

Alas, I don't have any digital camera yet, but based on my film days and the problems I see other people have and a peek at your blog, I think Vanessa is right on. Use available light rather than flash whenever you can (unless you can get the flash to off the camera). Full frontal flash flattens everything and leaves things looking like they never do in light.

Take your dish outside, either in the shade or in late afternoon/early evening when possible. Or place it next to a window with the shade wide open. I think you'll like the results. Good luck!

Vanessa said...

Haalo is right...a tripod makes a big difference. I use a Joby Gorillapod and it is a fabulous.

I also forgot to mention that I take a lot of photos...different angles and perspectives with multiples of each, all just to get that one good photo.

Nika said...

I just want to say:

1) you CAN do it without a D-SLR
2) you can learn what it takes, its not rocket science
3) try to enjoy the process of learning because it WILL take a while but you can get there
4) consumer level P&Ss have a LOT packed into them which is good and bad you just need to read the manual (3x) and learn how to turn OFF some of the bells and whistles
5) use a tripod as much as you can
6) study other people's photography but please try to put away envy and just enjoy the art form (do NOT always compare yourself to them and feel as if its not possible, because it is)

Your mantra shall be: "I will not use on-camera flash" Say this 10 times before bed, 10 times upon waking, and 10 times before each shoot, from now on.

On-camera flash is death for any photography.

I started with a 4 MP Fujifilm 3200 and I have sold photos from that camera at 4 figures and I am not coming from a pro-photo background and those shots were in my first year of shooting digital. I read the manual over and over and went through each function holding my camera and went over it several times to get it.

I do this still with my Canon 30D now.

Do not be discouraged, food photography is for ALL of us. You do not have to shoot Gourmet covers, you do what makes sense for YOU.

Rachael said...

It may seem extreme...or extremly silly...but you may want to save a serving of your meal/dish to shoot a picture of the next day in the sunlight. I too have a lower end camera and have learned to not even bother taking pics after dark.

Deborah said...

Thank you all so much for the advice. The funny thing is that the thing that sticks out the most is the most obvious - read the manual!!! I have never done that... go figure! I thought I'd be reading Nigel Slater tonight, but now I fear it will be my camera's manual! Now where did I put it? Thanks again, such wonderful advice!!!

Tana said...

I would offer one more suggestion, which is to back up a little if you don't have a macro on your camera. An out-of-focus shot is a disservice to a good recipe.

Good luck!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I have no advise to give other than to say that I'm in the same boat as you...Just can't seem to get those pictures right!

christine said...

Hi Deborah! You got great advice here. I just wanted to add two more tips that help me a lot:

1) try taking pictures from an angle, and not from above the food so you can show volume. Sometimes top shots can come out looking flat.

2) If you have a window, use it, that will be your best friend when taking pictures with natural light (unless you take it outdoors), you can position the food so that the light comes from anywhere BUT the front. You want some shadows to fall towards you the photographer, because shadows are what show texture.

And most importantly, have fun! :)

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