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pastameshugana

The Food Photography Topic

101 posts in this topic

I prefer the first.

The first certainly has a more traditional look, it reminds me of a cabin, rustic and warm. The second is a little more modern.

The soft lighting in the second can flatten things which may or may not be what you're looking for.

Maybe I should've presented the two quick snaps without the editorializing. ;)


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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I've had (what I believe is) good luck with a relatively simple setup:

I generally take all my photos with my SLR with the Canon 60mm EFS macro lens - it's super sharp, pretty fast (f/3.2), and provides a good field of view/working distance that is very well suited for food photography. Natural daylight lighting is great, but I do most of my photographs at night so I use a flash unit (Canon EX420), generally bounced either off the ceiling or a wall next to the subject (always higher than the food though, to prevent casting dark shadows on the plate). Then I'll take photos at all angles, although the ones that I find work best are straight from the top or a sort of 35-45 angle, depending on how the food is plated. I'm usually too lazy to bust out the tripod for every occasion, so I usually work with a larger aperture/shallower depth of field, which CAN make the photos seem more dramatic (or ugly and blurred).

I can't recommend Adobe Lightroom enough if you want to make your photos look great. I pretty much always perform post processing on photos (cropping, white balance correction, noise reduction/sharpness enhancing).


Edited by Baselerd (log)

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"---but I do most of my photographs at night so I use a flash unit (Canon EX420), generally bounced either off the ceiling or a wall next to the subject (always higher than the food though, to prevent casting dark shadows on the plate). ----"

In that case get a couple of slave flashes.

Everyone should have slave flash anyway. When you have a party, using slave flashes in the background will give very good even lighting and minimize red eyes.

Slave flashes are not that expensive.

In general, I try not to use the flash. The flash tube bulb has a limited life, I am not sure how many times you can fire it. If it goes, for some cameras, it can render your camera useless.

carch


Edited by dcarch (log)

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This is why I don't post pictures- if I did, they would be a quick shot with an iPhone, I cook to eat. There is no way my fiancé would enjoy the food I cook if he had to wait for me to plate it to it was restaurant perfect, with lighting and tripods. Hell we barely take pictures together- our wedding will be the most we will ever do, except when we have kids. Life is too busy for that. Try telling a man who works in the Financial District of Manhattan for 12 plus hours that he can't eat because I need to set up photo equipment!? What kind of future wife would I be. People now at egullet just want pretty pictures and I'm not sacrificing the pleasure of dining with my partner to do so.

A quick shot with an iPhone can look pretty spiffy, though - just because some people enjoy getting into the photography a bit doesn't mean it's totally necessary in order to get pictures that would be good enough to share. I have a nice camera and some photography experience and honestly the only thing I might mess around with a little to get a really good photo would be some kind of special occasion meal or something I felt was a real accomplishment, and then it'd be as much about preserving it for myself as for sharing. Otherwise I generally just want to get on with eating the food. :)

Just use your phone or whatever you're likely to snap said photo with, and take some test shots (I'd put something on the dishes you use most frequently as the subject for your test shots) in the various types of lighting you have available in places where it'd be easy to snap the photo (kitchen counter, dining room table, by a window, not by a window, etc.) Once you've identified a place where you like the look the available light gives you, all you have to do is put the food there for a moment to take the picture in between plating and serving. Occasionally the photo might not come out, depending on the specific food, but most of the time it probably will be fine.

(And if someone complains about an in-focus, well-lit photo of a plate just because they can tell it was taken with a camera phone and doesn't look like it fell out of the pages of a magazine, then they need to adjust their expectations because this is a forum about food, not artistic food photography. Artistic food photography should be a subset of the food related activity, not a requirement for any photos of food shared on the forum. Someone can be an excellent chef and have a lot to share and be a middling to average photographer - should they not share their food knowledge just because their photos showing interesting technique or style aren't going to be pretty enough?)

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dcarch - I do need another slave flash. I actually do use a reflector sometimes, but slaves sound better :)

People now at egullet just want pretty pictures and I'm not sacrificing the pleasure of dining with my partner to do so.

Having good meals with your partner and taking "pretty pictures" is not mutually exclusive. I do both all the time. Usually I just leave my camera setup assembled - I cook the food and then take a few pics and eat. Done. I suppose it does take an extra minute or two, but I obviously don't take photos of every meal I cook.

Clearly photography is not your hobby, but I don't see the reason to hate on it so much...

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As requested, this is my very sophisticated photo and lighting setup.

The light is always in the closet with the broken plastic container, and the camera is always mounted on a tripod in the same closet.

Picture time - hang light on a hook, open tripod, one top view of the dish and one side view. Done in less than a minute. No composition, no creative dramatic angles. The camera is on auto focus and auto exposure, there is nothing for me to do except "click, click".

Why is all this too complicated and too time consuming?

dcarch

light2_zpsbb96a4d4.jpg

light_zpsde512821.jpg

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Brilliant. I don't think there's a person who doesn't know you that would connect the pic of your setup and the shots of your food.

Just more evidence that you can make beautiful pictures with basic setups.


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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"real" food photography is a whole different animal than taking photos of what we made or ordered in a restaurant, involves chefs, food stylists, lights, assistants, etc etc. And often the food is not real or edible, i.e. mashed potatoes used for ice cream, acrylic ice cubes, glycerin spray instead of condensation on glass, etc. The photos in MC are a top of the line example and certainly cross over into the art segment of photography as well.

But putting a little effort into snapping pictures of our food is really quick and easy, and yes, works just as well with an iphone. Camera is just a tool, one needs to know what it's capable of and use it well. It's a lot of fun, I often snap a quick iphone picture of food I made or am making, I don't like having my real cameras in the kitchen, I use them when I set up a little studio setting e.g. after a good harvest at the farmers market. I use my phone or a waterproof P&S in the kitchen.

To me it sounds like Meredith likes to set a nice table and just be able to sit down with her fiance after a long day of work, and I think that's great. It's more chaotic in my house, most of time I serve the kids first, then my wife and then myself. They start eating before I even have a crumb on my plate. I tried the serve all and sit down many times before, but the "can I start, I'm soooo hungry" whining got more on my nerves than sitting down when they're already half done, LOL

So sometimes I spend a couple extra seconds on my plate and snap a couple photos, doesn't disrupt and the kids watch what I'm doing (trying to feed them some love of photography with dinner I guess). I don't have room in a closet to have a mini setup ready all the time, great idea though!

Those photos are mostly for me to document what I did and trigger ideas down the road. I rarely cook exactly the same thing twice, and even if it's the same dish I play with stuff and change quantities all the time. Fun to see something I made two years ago.

There are a handful of great (and some not so great) books on this topic, of course geared to the professional or "real" food photography, used in advertisements, magazines, etc. I also have a fun book on food styling that I use for ideas when I set up my mini studio.

It really depends on what the purpose of a foto is too, a quick shot to memorize something great in a restaurant or at home, a shot for a blog (where one might spend a bit longer with light/composing), something arty to print and hang up in the kitchen, etc.

For mini studio setup I use one or two flashes off camera with small softboxes, both either on stands or placed elsewhere to throw the light I want. Or I might work outside in the shade or close to a window. Sometimes I also use a small light table used for drawing to illuminate food from behind or underneath, fun to experiment.

You need decent light and a somewhat capable camera, but you also need to know a bit about composition, play with angles, turn the food this or that way. Can be done very quick and once you get the hang of it and find your couple different approaches you like it gets even faster. Since we're not on a photography forum here, I don't think it makes sense to get too technical and certainly makes no sense to diss phone or P&S cameras, great food photography has been done with anything from pinhole cameras to $40k rigs in million dollar studios. Not sure why things need to get personal here, what's the point of that? People will just leave the thread and it'll die.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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In terms of a "capable camera" that OliverB mentioned, consider the Sony RX-100. There is a new model out, the RX-200, but I'm so happy with my RX-100 that I see no reason to change.

What makes the camera exceptional, compared to other pocket cameras, is its 1" sensor. Not as big as a single lens reflex, but twice or more as large as other compact cameras. From the dpreview.com review, "A large sensor is one of the most significant factors in terms of providing good image quality. The larger area simply means that, compared to a smaller sensor camera, it will be exposed to more light during any exposure with the same settings (ISO, shutter speed and F-number). And more light means a better signal-to-noise ratio." It also has a Zeiss lens, which probably helps.

The dpreview.com review concludes, "The RX100 is probably the most capable compact camera on the market today, combining the image quality benefits of a mid-sized sensor with the proportions of a conventional compact. Extensive, though not flawless, manual controls make the RX100 a great second camera for DSLR shooters."

I can just go by results. Since I switched, my pictures are much sharper with much truer color. I can also snap a decent picture in low available light. I have a Nikon SLR, but the quality of the RX-100 is so good for web site resolution, that I only lug my SLR out for state occasions.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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...I'm shocked to learn that I'm just a 'new member'... :(

I never reduced anyone to being 'just' a new member.

I also apologize, as I should have prefaced my post by stating that I am disappointed with egullets inability to work with new technology. I can't upload a picture from my iPhone or iPad. I pretty much never use my Mac book as I prefer my multipurpose tablet. I think if egullet worked on making posting pictures easier, a lot more people would do so.

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...I'm shocked to learn that I'm just a 'new member'... :(

I never reduced anyone to being 'just' a new member.

I also apologize, as I should have prefaced my post by stating that I am disappointed with egullets inability to work with new technology. I can't upload a picture from my iPhone or iPad. I pretty much never use my Mac book as I prefer my multipurpose tablet. I think if egullet worked on making posting pictures easier, a lot more people would do so.

Meredith, like you I rarely use anything but my i-Pad or i-Phone any more. My laptop sits collecting dust and I hang on to it only because It will play DVDs! I upload photos from my i-Pad to eGullet with little difficulty. It requires the free app Tap-a-talk and there is a short learning curve but it is very doable. I am not tech-savvy so if I can master it I'm betting you would quickly leave me in your slip stream. There are loads of members who would be more than happy to talk you through it if you ask. Best, Anna

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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the sony 100 is a great camera, I think the new model is just called 100 II though, not 200. It will probably replace my G12 soon. My father in law, who has tons of canon gear (which is why I went canon, free rental store) uses it, he's very anal about picture quality and loves it, the new one is even better in low light, costs 100 more or so. Great little thing to have handy.

Picture uploading here is a bit of a pain, I first have to save it as a small enough jpg etc, more than I want to do to just quickly upload a photo. Might look at tapatalk, but most my pix are in LR and out of my DSLRs or my G12, i.e. RAW format. Wish there'd be a LR plugin.

I'm going to work on a couple thousand pix from this summer soon, maybe I'll upload some here anyway, aside of working with models in the studio, food photography is one of my top favorites :-)


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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the sony 100 is a great camera, I think the new model is just called 100 II though, not 200. It will probably replace my G12 soon. My father in law, who has tons of canon gear (which is why I went canon, free rental store) uses it, he's very anal about picture quality and loves it, the new one is even better in low light, costs 100 more or so. Great little thing to have handy.

Picture uploading here is a bit of a pain, I first have to save it as a small enough jpg etc, more than I want to do to just quickly upload a photo. Might look at tapatalk, but most my pix are in LR and out of my DSLRs or my G12, i.e. RAW format. Wish there'd be a LR plugin.

I'm going to work on a couple thousand pix from this summer soon, maybe I'll upload some here anyway, aside of working with models in the studio, food photography is one of my top favorites :-)

An easy 'hack' to upload pictures via tapatalk that aren't in your iPad or iPhone already (for iOS users): If you use a PC, you can install photostream from Apple (iCloud panel). It allows you to keep a copy of your pics from your cell phone cam/ipad etc on your PC, but you can turn that option off. It also provides an 'uploads' folder. Dragging any picture into that folder will copy it into photostream, and will shortly appear on your iPad/iphone or other devices connected to that account.

Wait a couple minutes, open Tapatalk on iPad and upload your pics.

OR any other syncing app like dropbox will work. The big advantage is that tapatalk automatically resizes the pictures, eliminating a PITB step.


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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I've researched for weeks and I'm leaning toward a Samsung NX1000

A great value ~$332.00.

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-NX1000-20-3MP-Digital-20-50mm/dp/B007XJG42E


~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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There are a handful of great (and some not so great) books on this topic, of course geared to the professional or "real" food photography, used in advertisements, magazines, etc. I also have a fun book on food styling that I use for ideas when I set up my mini studio.

Can you name some titles, please?

Teo


My new blog: http://www.teonzo.com/

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Teo,

Not food-specific, but a good all-rounder is Tony Northrup's DSLR Book. It helps to understand the basics, and the eBook version includes some videos that are helpful.


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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There are more features in a digital camera than you can use, but the most useful for me are these two:

A big view screen that can be flipped backwards.

A remote control.

Tip:

Buy an extra rechargeable battery and store the battery in you refrigerator. It takes no room. All batteries have limited rechargeable cycle, and they get very weak or expire after a few years of use. In a few years, some special replacement batteries can get extremely expensive. For my simple Coolpix, it is $70 to $100 now.

dcarch


Edited by dcarch (log)

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On the subject of replacement batteries - I've been purchasing Wasabe power (from Amazon) replacements. They usually come in sets of two with a charger (including car adapter) for $30-50. I've got a set for each of my Canon's and also my GoPro Hero. They work like champs and function like OEM, no issues at all.

I'm not sure how they're so cheap, or why the others are so expensive - maybe it's magic unicorn dust - but I love them!


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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I also apologize, as I should have prefaced my post by stating that I am disappointed with egullets inability to work with new technology. I can't upload a picture from my iPhone or iPad. I pretty much never use my Mac book as I prefer my multipurpose tablet. I think if egullet worked on making posting pictures easier, a lot more people would do so.

That's more your iPhone/iPad's fault than eGullet's. Apple, in their infinite wisdom, has denied you access to the file system. So you can only share photos with certain apps, and I am pretty certain that Safari and Tapatalk aren't on the list.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

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for book titles, I'm currently reading Food Photography and Lightning, so far I like it quite a bit. Author is a pro and has one of the largest food photography studios (that I want to move into). Geared towards pro work for advertising etc.

Others I like are:
Plate to Pixel
Digital Food Photography
Food Photography, from snapshot to great shots (I think)

The Food Stylists Handbook, which as the title says is more about the tricks on how to make things look good under studio conditions.

There are other books too, best if you go and look at them first. Some don't appeal to me at all for the displayed photos and they target a bit of different levels of knowledge. Some of them might have look inside on amazon or maybe their own website.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I also apologize, as I should have prefaced my post by stating that I am disappointed with egullets inability to work with new technology. I can't upload a picture from my iPhone or iPad. I pretty much never use my Mac book as I prefer my multipurpose tablet. I think if egullet worked on making posting pictures easier, a lot more people would do so.

That's more your iPhone/iPad's fault than eGullet's. Apple, in their infinite wisdom, has denied you access to the file system. So you can only share photos with certain apps, and I am pretty certain that Safari and Tapatalk aren't on the list.

Keith - I can say for certain that tapatalk on iPad lets you upload photos from your camera roll.


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Photobucket has apps to work directly with most mobile devices, including Apple products. Consolidating your photos on a service like this also allows you to manage them across the board, which is useful if you crosspost pics on multiple forums.


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.

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Keith - I can say for certain that tapatalk on iPad lets you upload photos from your camera roll.

Thank you for the correction! Meredith, that's your answer. If you want to upload photos to eG from your iPad, use Tapatalk.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

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Photobucket has apps to work directly with most mobile devices, including Apple products.

Photobucket have lost several of my pictures.

Imageshack was even worse. They lost most then denied it, They even sent me two emails the same day, from two different people in their complaints dept, one apologising for having lost a whole bunch of photos and the other utterly denying that they had ever lost a photograph in the entire existence of the company and threatening me with all sorts of retribution.

Lesson learned: always keep copies and don't trust image storing sites.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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I've never had a problem with that particular product/service, so if anyone else has that's obviously their fault.

(That's a joke, btw)

Yeah, there's no guarantee photobucket or dropbox or eG for that matter are going to be in business next month, nevermind keep your precious files safe. I agree you should keep copies of anything that you care about on your PC, preferably in a RAID or similar. I suggest photobucket and similar image hosting services because they make it much easier to share pics across multiple forums, allowing you to share an existing link instead of uploading to each one individually, which many forums don't even allow.

Having those links ready also encourages you to share stuff when you might not have taken the trouble otherwise. This is a stray I picked up. Isn't he cute?!

IMG_13551.jpg


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.

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