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Food Shutter Bug Club (Part 1)


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#511 Dakki

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 02:30 PM

OK, this time I took the photo using a window that gives less light and set up the plastic cutting board so it would reflect light back onto the plate.

I also arranged the cilantro so it wouldn't totally cover the salsa.

Posted Image

Not sure what I think about this one. I guess the light is better but the last pic is more interesting... maybe it's just the plating? The angle? Carnitas are inherently more photogenic than slices of steak? Iunno.
This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

#512 Blether

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 05:42 AM

It seems I'm doing a lot of the replying here, but I'm not tired if you're not :smile:

This last one is a good picture. It's better than most of the pictures I've posted on eG.

Photo technique - it's sharp. The focal field (depth of field) is nicely demarcated to take in an appropriate part of the subject. You've got a great red colour in the salsa, and all the colours look correct. The key light (main light, from the left here) is good, if maybe a little hard (you've got bright reflections in places on the meat and salsa). The fill light (preventing deep shadows from the key) is fine. Exposure is fine. You've found an angle, distance and length of lens that cuts out distracting background.

Food arranging technique - you've filled the frame nicely, whilst keeping some context by showing parts of the plate. Nice combination of the-same-but-different arrangements in the foreground (salsa) and background (undressed meat) tortillas. Nice feeling of depth from the two, too. It's a shame about the pool of liquid coming off the front of the salsa, and the bruising on the cilantro - particularly since it's heaviest in the very piece of cilantro that features in the sharp-focus plane. (Speaking for my own photos, I have found myself pretty rubbish at arranging green garnishes recently).

Maybe you find the previous pic more dynamic because of the lower angle of shot and the greater sense of depth and perspective from that ?

Edited by Blether, 20 July 2010 - 05:44 AM.


#513 Dakki

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 07:21 AM

Thank you for taking the time to look at and comment on these Blether, as well as for your advice and encouragement. It is really nice when someone really knowledgeable is willing to share the fruits of their experience with an utter noob. :smile:

You're right about the bruised leaf and the little puddle that separated from the salsa - I hadn't even noticed those before. One more thing to watch out for. :wacko:

Next time I'll try to keep an eye out for that, and take photos at a variety of angles from the z-axis and see if I can figure out why exactly I liked the first photo better, and what I can do to replicate that.
This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

#514 Fujito

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 12:21 PM

Here's a picture from today for this week's email. Very little editing was required. I just dodged the eggs a little to brighten them up. Besides that I like the warm white balance and everything else.

Posted Image

#515 Dakki

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 03:27 PM

Very nice Fujito.

How was this lighted?
This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

#516 Fujito

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 10:51 PM

Window light from the side and bounced light off the ceiling from a mounted 430EX flash head.

#517 Dakki

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 03:05 PM

Posted Image


AUTO/MACRO, no flash, natural light from the left and a white cutting board on the right as a reflector.

Shrimp ceviche again, I wanted to try a different presentation to make it more interesting.

Not too happy with this, I think it overexposed in some parts and is still shadowed in others. Plus, you can see the cutting board reflected on the glass, on the right.

Any tips on shooting glass and avoiding this dark/light cutout nonsense?
This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

#518 SobaAddict70

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 08:37 AM

Posted Image

No flash
-0.3 exposure
Adjustable overhead halogen lamp at left

I could probably have used some reflectors to soften the lighting on the right side of the bowl -- or at least, lessen the glare -- hence why the picture is cropped.



Posted Image

One of the better pix I've taken in a restaurant setting ... I would kill for this kind of light at home.

#519 Blether

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 02:30 PM

... Shrimp ceviche again, I wanted to try a different presentation to make it more interesting.

Not too happy with this, I think it overexposed in some parts and is still shadowed in others. Plus, you can see the cutting board reflected on the glass, on the right.

Any tips on shooting glass and avoiding this dark/light cutout nonsense?


Y'know, that white reflection on the right doesn't come over as unnatural. You know it's a cutting board; the general viewer won't pick up on it. It's just some light hitting the glass. And I like the light & dark patterns on the base of the glass, they really model it nicely. I think that particular glass is a great choice to go with the pale-colour-heavy ceviche.

What would have made the pic more vivid would have been a lighter background, to pick out the dark rim better (and maybe something without the clutter of louvres - I posted a photo in Dinner or Breakfast too long ago to find again easily, with a yellow background - just the plate sat on a cardboard file divider). As for exposure, cameras just don't have the dynamic range that our eyes do - you *will* typically get white-out at one end and black-out at the other.

Those beansprouts are almost hyper-real, aren't they, Soba ? Uber-moyashi.

#520 Dakki

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 02:49 PM

Dammit SobaAddict you're making me look incompetent. I particularly like the restaurant pic. I can't believe you got that without arranging lights and reflecting surfaces and so on.

Thanks for the critique Blether. I actually picked a dark background on purpose, thinking the pale shrimp might be lost against a white background. I'll try a light but contrasting background such as the yellow you suggested next time.
This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

#521 SobaAddict70

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 09:16 PM

Dakki, thanks. I was with friends so I couldn't exactly take as much time as I normally do when I shoot food.

Blether ... heh. ;)

#522 Rico

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 06:14 PM

Um ... I have a Nikon Coolpix. I have pretty much relegated myself to the fact that a lot of my pictures aren't going to be professional quality, but I'd still like to take good ones. It's the pouting golfer that blames the round on his equipment.

So (bracing for the storm) ... any thoughts?:

tomatoes1.jpg

#523 Dakki

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 07:42 PM

any thoughts?:


"Yes, I think I'll have that."

If you're willing to take criticism from a photo n00b the tomato on the right (this is what I immediately look at in this photo) looks slightly blurred to me. This might just be the way the cheese naturally looks. The tomato on the left looks like it's angled away from the camera. Also you could have cheated and brought up the red a bit.

The food looks delicious though.
This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

#524 Blether

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 09:36 PM

... So (bracing for the storm) ... any thoughts?:


Nice soft-but-bright lighting all round - for such a juicy food as tomatoes, you've done a good job of avoiding 'the wet look'. Nice framing. I like the choice of plate. Did you use a tripod ? What shutter speed did you shoot it at ?

#525 ScottyBoy

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 10:28 PM

Oh I guess I've found the thread to post all my photos in!
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#526 Rico

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 06:57 AM

Thanks, Dakki! See, I think I'd technically be the noob here, seeing as how I didn't even consider that the tomato on the left was facing away from the camera. But of course it is. Thanks for the insight. As for the blurriness, I think you're right, but I'm not sure how to fix it with my little pocket camera. Or maybe I was just moving the camera when I took the picture (sheepish). Can you get tripods for pocket cameras?

Blether, thanks for the complimentary words. I shot this in my photo box I made about a week ago following this guy's directions. That alone has made a world of difference, though I feel I'm going to have to start adding stuff - garnish, if you will - to the photos so they're not all so ... plain clean white, you know? I have no idea how to go about that, like where people's eyes first go and so on.

As for the shutter speed, I honestly don't know. I don't even know if my little pocket camera has modifiable shutter speed. I'd love to get a really cool one, but that's down the road for me. Are you at all familiar with coolpix (I feel like that's like asking a successful painter if he's familiar with Crayolas, but it's worth a shot!)?

Edited by Rico, 15 September 2010 - 06:58 AM.


#527 Blether

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 08:38 AM

... Can you get tripods for pocket cameras?


You'll find a threaded recess on the underside of the camera. It's about 1/8" across ? Yes, even my Fujifilm 4500 pocket digi from the year 2000 has one. With 4.5M pixels it was top-of-the-range then. It's what I still use.

Blether, thanks for the complimentary words. I shot this in my photo box I made about a week ago following this guy's directions. That alone has made a world of difference, though I feel I'm going to have to start adding stuff - garnish, if you will - to the photos so they're not all so ... plain clean white, you know? I have no idea how to go about that, like where people's eyes first go and so on.


Aw, shucks. I built a box using the instructions (linked ?) in the eG photo tutorial. The hardware store gave me a used cardboard box, and though I had a hell of a time looking for 'tissue paper' in Japan, when I translated it to "shoji gami" (shoji paper) I found it at 3 bucks 50 for 1 metre x 9 metres. Results can be seen earlier in this thread (same photo repeated in the Lasagne cook-off thread).

As for the look - the great thing about digicams is the instant feedback, know what I mean ? If it looks good, it looks good.

As for the shutter speed, I honestly don't know...


I know the Coolpix. Isn't a Coolpix the camera that Prawncrackers uses to conquer the eG photography world ? Nikons have always been good, and especially have a reputation for indestructibility in 35mm film. Then again, I haven't used one. Look for the 'EXIF info' for your photos in your photo software - that typically will tell you the actual shutter speed and aperture, amongst other things.

#528 Rico

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 10:44 AM

You use a pocket digital camera? Prawncrackers uses a Coolpix, too? I can get a tripod for this thing and adjust shutter speeds?

This may have just advanced from a distracting pursuit to an all-out hobby.

#529 SobaAddict70

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 01:05 PM

I have a Coolpix. It's a Nikon L3. Not a very good camera when if you believe ratings guides because of the time it takes to properly load, in addition to the on-screen opening animation.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I can already hear Blether gasp in horror -- I don't use a tripod. Never have. Oh sure, I *should* probably use one and it might improve my photography somewhat, but I'm satisfied with the material I'm producing. It's not magazine quality material but I'm not shooting for a professional publication. ;) And the only person I need to satisfy is myself.

On the other hand, lighting is key. A photo of a dish that's not presented very well can be touched up quite a bit during the post-photo processing phase (using Picasa or similar software) and you will find that some improvement will come through IF the light is adequate. However nothing can save your photo if the light looks washed out, too dim or worse, if it appears that you used flash when in fact you did not.

For an example of what I'm talking about, compare this photo

Posted Image

with this pic

Posted Image

None of the pix were taken using flash, however the top pic makes it appear as if I did. A professional food stylist friend of mine says that it appears that I used flash because it looks washed out and flat. He even goes so far as to recommend getting a key light and a fill light (in other words, one light source that is dominant from whatever angle you choose, and a fill light source to soften and lighten the shadows cast by your key light source). He's technically correct but I'm don't bother because by the time I'm done futzing with stuff, the food is cold and someone has to eat it. :wink:

By the way, closeup shots look better especially if there's detail work involved (i.e., Indian food with lots of visible spices). I'm late for a meeting, otherwise I'd post an example now.

I'm going to put myself out there (possibly exposing myself to criticism) by saying you don't NEED a super-expensive camera to take quality photographs. There are things that a good camera can do, like taking photos in low-light settings (i.e., restaurants) where flash would be intrusive. But for my purposes, my Nikon suits me just fine. What you do need however is great lighting, a little knowledge (from forums such as this one) and some experience (which comes with time).

Edited by SobaAddict70, 15 September 2010 - 01:10 PM.


#530 Dakki

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 06:26 PM

Thanks, Dakki! See, I think I'd technically be the noob here, seeing as how I didn't even consider that the tomato on the left was facing away from the camera. But of course it is. Thanks for the insight. As for the blurriness, I think you're right, but I'm not sure how to fix it with my little pocket camera.


Oh man, you have no idea. I've only been taking food photos for a little bit, and I don't do it very often. If you look a couple of pages back, you'll see how horrible my initial attempts were; I think I've improved, but certainly not enough to go around offering advice as if I was an expert.

This is what I've learned (so far) in no particular order:

1-Low angles. Overhead shots suck.

2-Closeups are good. Backgrounds can be distracting.

3-Pay attention to the composition and plating.

4-Think about the light. Flash (at least from a pocket camera) makes images flat, artificial lighting can be weird colors, and mixing different light sources can mean you have areas that look differently weird and become hard to fix. The simplest way around this is sunlight and the use of reflecting surfaces, but you can "cheat" and fix the photo's colors afterward.

5-Touch up the photos, particularly color, contrast and sharp. Digital cameras don't correct for weird light the same way our eyes do, so the stuff that looked fine to us under the kitchen lights turns an unappetizing shade of purple in photos. I think David Goldfarb recommended Photoshop Elements but I have a phobia of Photoshop products. What I use is called FastStone Image Viewer, a free-to-use little program that does very basic snapshot editing (sharpness, color, cropping and so on) with none of that layering nonsense that makes Photoshop such a PITA.

6-Take lots of slightly different pics. The way our brains are built (well, my brain, anyway) we tend to focus on getting that one shrimp in the cocktail in beautiful light and perfect focus and totally ignore the filthy kitchen rag in the background, which becomes obvious once you look at the photos on your computer.

Finally, this isn't actual photo advice but I think an account with a free photo hosting service like flickr or Photobucket is better than attaching your pics directly to the forum. That way you can post larger images and share the same image over several boards without uploading it every time.

Well, that's the kindergarten-level advice I can offer.
This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

#531 Rico

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 02:58 PM

You guys are awesome.

I don't bother because by the time I'm done futzing with stuff, the food is cold and someone has to eat it.


Haha! Well, hell, that's the whole point, right??

I'm going to put myself out there (possibly exposing myself to criticism) by saying you don't NEED a super-expensive camera to take quality photographs. There are things that a good camera can do, like taking photos in low-light settings (i.e., restaurants) where flash would be intrusive. But for my purposes, my Nikon suits me just fine. What you do need however is great lighting, a little knowledge (from forums such as this one) and some experience (which comes with time).


And the news keeps getting better for me. More experience necessarily means more cooking, which in turn means better cooking, leading to better photos, and ultimately better eating. Yes, I'm going to like this new pursuit.

And Dakki, I have taken your advice on the Photobucket, and here's the first stuff I've got posted from there:

It's a squash and goat cheese salad I got from Emeril's new grilling book. I feel like the squash in front looks kind of bland ... but it's squash, you know? It's also taken outside and I guess the sunlight makes it look shiny. I don't know if shiny is good.

squashsalad.jpg

Edited to say I haven't quite figured out photobucket yet.

Edited by Rico, 16 September 2010 - 03:00 PM.


#532 ScottyBoy

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 04:27 PM

One thing that's a personal preference is using a single color of plate. I prefer white because the colors just jump out and the fact that it tones down the "busyness" in the photo. Then it helps if you then cover the table with a white sheet, so everything is focused on the food. that's just how I do it.

Posted Image
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#533 dcarch

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 04:54 PM

One thing that's a personal preference is using a single color of plate. I prefer white because the colors just jump out and the fact that it tones down the "busyness" in the photo. -------


There is an even better reason to use white blackground.
If you print your photos, a dark background probably uses 100 times more ink.

You know how expensive inks can be.

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#534 ScottyBoy

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 05:19 PM

Ah hah, good point.

I bought a new Olympus PEN EPL-1 and was having a ball with it. But I made sure to lose my charger and had to wait a week for the new one to come. Back in business!
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#535 prasantrin

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:05 PM

One thing that's a personal preference is using a single color of plate. I prefer white because the colors just jump out and the fact that it tones down the "busyness" in the photo. Then it helps if you then cover the table with a white sheet, so everything is focused on the food. that's just how I do it.

Posted Image


Did you do any processing or is it untouched?

#536 ScottyBoy

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:16 PM

I run all my stuff through Apple's Aperture program but on this night I didn't have to do much. It was actually the first photo I took and had an "Ah hah" moment and realized I didn't need a huge setup to take solid pictures.
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#537 prasantrin

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 05:41 AM

^I was just wondering because it looked (to my eyes) like the brightness had been adjusted just a little, compared to SobaAddict70's picture of the scrambled eggs, which looks like the brightness (and maybe colour) has had more of an adjustment.

I love the composition of the photo (was that David Chang's recipe?). It seems to me that a lot of really talented chefs (pastry or savoury) tend to have excellent composition when it comes to photography. Makes sense if you think about the artistic side of cooking.

(I don't just mean professional chefs, but also home cooks/bakers, "serious" or otherwise.)

#538 ScottyBoy

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 08:42 AM

Yeah it's right out of his book also made the chicken ramen with soft egg.

Posted Image
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#539 dcarch

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 11:21 AM

Yeah it's right out of his book also made the chicken ramen with soft egg.

Posted Image

What's the black stuff?

BTW, beautiful!

dcarch

#540 ScottyBoy

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 12:01 PM

Oh it's the Yakitori chicken thigh, one of those marinades that tastes great grilled and blackened. Quick pickles, pea shoots, scallion and the 45 minutes at 145 egg. Oh a little siracha never hurts either :wink:

Edited by ScottyBoy, 17 September 2010 - 12:01 PM.

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