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The Food Photography Topic


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20 minutes ago, tino27 said:

So, if you're going to use natural window light to illuminate your subject, you're going to want to do a few very inexpensive things.

 

1) Get yourself some tracing paper to place between the window and the subject. This will act as a large diffusor, making the light and shadows softer and more pleasing.

2) Get yourself a large piece of white foam core. Cut the large sheet of foam core into two pieces using an Exacto knife (or razor blade or some such) and tape the two halves together with clear tape so that you can set it on the table in a "V" formation. You place this "V" card at the opposite end of where the natural light is coming in from the window to "bounce" light back into the food. This is most effective for tall foods, such as the cake posted at the top of the page.

3) You'll need to be sensitive to the time of day/quality of the daylight coming in through the window. This will affect the color temperature of the image. Cloudy/overcast days can throw a different color temperature than sunny days during the middle of the afternoon.

4) You'll want to minimize any other lighting falling on your subject (such as interior room lights, televisions, or monitors). If you don't, you can actually get multiple color casts on different parts of your image (blue-ish coming from the window and yellow-ish coming from incandescent interior lights).

5) Buy yourself a "gray card" from a photography store (or online from someplace like Amazon / B&H Photo / Adorama). This will make setting your camera's custom white balance easier (if your camera supports that feature), or if your camera doesn't support custom white balance, you can take two exposures of the food in question, the first with the gray card placed in front of the food and the second without the gray card. Once in your photo editor of choice, you can set the white balance point using the first image and then copy those settings to your second image.

 

 

Yes!

 

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian 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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23 minutes ago, tino27 said:

 

So, if you're going to use natural window light to illuminate your subject, you're going to want to do a few very inexpensive things.

 

Thanks. There is nothing whatever wrong with your advice if photography is supremely important. For me, however,  I just want to share a reasonable image of what I’m enjoying with members of eG. The food takes precedence over any futzing around while my food gets cold. Just saying so that those who are neither good photographers nor willing to put in the time and effort to learn photography will still share the images of their food with us all without feeling intimidated. But for those prepared to go to that effort, thank you.  I will enjoy your photographs!xD

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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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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58 minutes ago, Anna N said:

...food gets cold

 

Plate charger—wok lid. :smile:

 

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian 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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15 minutes ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

Plate charger—wok lid. :smile:

 

 iPhone —. no fussxD

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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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

Thanks. There is nothing whatever wrong with your advice if photography is supremely important. For me, however,  I just want to share a reasonable image of what I’m enjoying with members of eG. The food takes precedence over any futzing around while my food gets cold. Just saying so that those who are neither good photographers nor willing to put in the time and effort to learn photography will still share the images of their food with us all without feeling intimidated. But for those prepared to go to that effort, thank you.  I will enjoy your photographs!xD

 

That's the lovely thing about free advice; you can choose to use it or ignore it. :)

 

I would agree that changing how you photograph your dishes can feel intimidating at first, especially if you're trying to incorporate a whole bunch of new things to worry about. I would argue, however, that like most things in life, if you start by changing one small thing, like say, adding the "V" card to bounce light into the shadows, and doing that until it feels normal, and then adding something else small to your process, over time you'll find that it isn't that much extra work.

 

As for cold food, one of the tricks that professional food photographers use commonly is to have a "stand in" plate that is the same shape, size, and color, possibly with something on the plate that resembles the shape of the food (even crumpled up paper works). Then, while you wait for the food to finish cooking, set up your shot and get your camera settings dialed-in. Prepare your final plate, swap it out for the stand in, and get your actual shot. When I shoot professionally (and even when I go out for dinner and want an image from the restaurant I'm eating at), I never spend more than a minute or two getting the shot.

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11 minutes ago, tino27 said:

I never spend more than a minute or two getting the shot.

 

I wish I could say the same.

I'd post many more pics.

I have a movement disorder—essential tremor, that Katharine Hepburn thing.

Complicates things in many ways.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian 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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2 hours ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

Yes!

 

Yes, and no. :-)

Consider using artificial light instead, Set it up once in a way that works for you. Use that for breakfast, lunch and dinner, winter and summer, everyday. Turn the switch on, snap, and you are done picture taking and ready to start eating.

Natural light is not available half the year for dinner and breakfast, and everyday it is at a different angle.

Unless you work for a food magazine.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

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@tino27 your Instagram has beautiful photos! Do you cook the food yourself? It reminds me, again and again, lighting is everything. Everything else is secondary, even the food, LOL.

 

I do have a lot of what you've described, I'm lazy (or indifferent?) to always use them. I have a big foam core board, tracing paper, and I even have a do-dad to create white light artificially, much like this

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GIL6EU4/ref=asc_df_B01GIL6EU45436177/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=394997&creativeASIN=B01GIL6EU4&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167143377764&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16391143825476397954&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9051910&hvtargid=pla-367303678037

 

Here's some of my better stuff I've done in a light box:

 

Chicken Curry

5acea3fa546b0_chickencurry.JPG.4b45e1c7c986d4b1e4f842ff93d0e490.JPG

 

Asparagus and Fontina Cheese Pizza:

5acea44fd8cf9_pizzaasparagus.JPG.f7e9e37d2009c57bc54f7fdc740216b3.JPG

 

 

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@Smokeydoke Thank you! I'll admit, while I do cook for myself, I don't tend to take pictures of my home meals. A large majority of the images are either professional images I shot for clients or meals I've had at restaurants.

 

I'm also a big proponent of artificial light, as it removes a lot of the problems associated with natural light (and colored light inside of restaurants). And honestly, much of what I originally said about shooting in natural light still applies regardless of whether you're using natural or artificial light. You're right in that for good photographs, lighting (and shadow) is extremely important. Without good lighting, even the most beautifully plated foods just won't look good.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you shoot raw format, it should be easy to get good color balance from any light source. The only thing that will cause problems is mixed lighting—like, light coming from the window on the left and an incandescent bulb on the right, or incandescent bulbs with different color temperatures, or worst of all, an old-fashioned fluorescent tube somewhere in the mix.

 

There are other reasons you should be shooting raw if you're at all serious about picture quality. 

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Notes from the underbelly

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I am a firm believer of shooting in RAW. However, be aware that in order to process RAW images, you need software capable of reading RAW images (such as Adobe Lightroom) AND when you bring it in to Lightroom, it won't have any of the style that your camera applied to the image that appeared on the view on the back. You'll have to make those adjustments yourself.

 

Not a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

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4 minutes ago, tino27 said:

I am a firm believer of shooting in RAW. However, be aware that in order to process RAW images, you need software capable of reading RAW images (such as Adobe Lightroom) AND when you bring it in to Lightroom, it won't have any of the style that your camera applied to the image that appeared on the view on the back. You'll have to make those adjustments yourself.

 

Not a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

 

That's true, unless you're using the raw processing software made by your camera maker. This will usually import your camera style settings. In general I think it's a poor tradeoff; camera companies usually write lousy software, and insist on keeping your files in proprietary formats that could cause problems down the road. The exception being PhaseOne, but if you have one of their cameras you don't need my advice on anything.

 

I'd suggest that using camera styles is a shortcut, similar to shooting in jpeg. It's designed to speed your workflow, but isn't relevant if you're going for the best image quality. Using styles (or jpeg) is about trying to do your processing in-camera, using the built-in, small, not very good screen to make your judgements. Raw workflows are generally about capturing as much high-quality information as possible, and fine-tuning the color balance and density curves when you're in front of a good monitor.

 

Nevertheless, I find that my default Lightroom settings are good enough for posting casual images online much of the time, without any tweaking.

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Obviously RAW has it's advantages. 

I'm guessing that most take casual shots.

Who, here, shoots RAW and takes the time to post-process?

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian 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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I shoot RAW and post-process. That's because I want complete control of the conversion from initial to final image. RAW images give me the most latitude when it comes to making changes without losing resolution. But that conversion process was something that I had to work up to over the course of many years and I'm still learning new ways to make improvements to my process.

 

I'm certainly not advocating this for anyone else (especially the casual photographer), but just like cooking, the better the quality of your ingredients and the tools you use to transform them, the better the final result can be.

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2 hours ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

Obviously RAW has it's advantages. 

I'm guessing that most take casual shots.

Who, here, shoots RAW and takes the time to post-process?

 

 

I am also of that persuasion.  Almost all of my food pictures need white balancing and a little lightening, done in camera raw.  Then my final steps are converting to 720 pixels width, unsharp masking, converting to sRGB, changing mode to 8-bits per channel, and saving the file as .png -- admittedly I should automate those things.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 4/21/2018 at 9:08 PM, DiggingDogFarm said:

Obviously RAW has it's advantages. 

I'm guessing that most take casual shots.

Who, here, shoots RAW and takes the time to post-process?

 

 

Raw doesn't really take more time to post-process if you use an application like Lightroom. There will be some default preset (editable by you) that will be applied on import to all your images. If you just take what you get from the default process, then that's the same as if you shot JPEG.

 

But you also have the option to do all kinds of tweaking that go beyond what would be possible without the raw file.

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Notes from the underbelly

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I feel like I’m the only one posting? Does anyone care? Or should this thread just die? (Edit: I wrote this a few secs before @paulraphael replied. It’s a sign. Awesome, let’s keep it going!) 

Ive gotten serious about food photography the last few weeks and even though I’m a itty bitty baby in an ocean of knowledge, I’ve made huge gains just by changing some things. If anyone wants to join me, please post along. 

Today, I present the blueberry friand. 

Discuss. 

 

 

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I use Lightroom only for moving raw files from my iPad into Photoshop on the computer, but for the purpose it works really well.  I doubt there is much of a difference among processing raw files in Lightroom, Photoshop, or Bridge.

 

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This is an amazing thread, I read it months ago and I didn’t understand what half the comments were saying. I went back today and reread it and the comments are gold. Real knowledgeable people here. 

Using the polarizing sunglasses is epic, thank you @dcarch

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On 5/21/2018 at 10:59 PM, paulraphael said:

 

Raw doesn't really take more time to post-process if you use an application like Lightroom. There will be some default preset (editable by you) that will be applied on import to all your images. If you just take what you get from the default process, then that's the same as if you shot JPEG.

 

But you also have the option to do all kinds of tweaking that go beyond what would be possible without the raw file.

 

That would make an interesting poll.

Who takes the time to process any sort of impromptu photos destined for a forum.

I usually take the easy route for such pics, nothing beyond simple editing.

A blog and such, that's another matter.

 

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian 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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On 5/22/2018 at 12:10 AM, Smokeydoke said:

I feel like I’m the only one posting? Does anyone care? Or should this thread just die? (Edit: I wrote this a few secs before @paulraphael replied. It’s a sign. Awesome, let’s keep it going!) 

Ive gotten serious about food photography the last few weeks and even though I’m a itty bitty baby in an ocean of knowledge, I’ve made huge gains just by changing some things. If anyone wants to join me, please post along. 

 

Always post if you're interested, even if nobody else is actively participating for a while. Peoples' interests rise and fall, life intervenes...sometimes it's a while between posts. Just keep chronicling your journey, and some day that too will become gold for another reader who's following the same path. Also, those who might not otherwise have contributed to the thread will often do so in response to a post you've made.

 

I follow the thread when there are posts, not because I have anything to add but because photography is on my "round tuit" list and someday, dammit, I'll carve out the time...

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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10 hours ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

That would make an interesting poll.

Who takes the time to process any sort of impromptu photos destined for a forum.

I usually take the easy route for such pics, nothing beyond simple editing.

A blog and such, that's another matter.

 

 

I currently take the food photos that I post on eGullet with the camera on my iPhone SE. I use the Photo Editor by Aviary app to crop and adjust the photos prior to posting them. My other photography (nature, birds, etc.)  is shot, in raw, with my Canon EOS Rebel T5 and processed with Lightroom.

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