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Food Shutter Bug Club (Part 2)


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I can definitely use some advice from your eGullet shutterbugs. I've been following this thread closely, reading up on food photography on the web, and Prawncrackers gave me some good tips in the Dinner thread.

I have Leica P&S - the D-Lux 4, which is really a more expensive Panasonic Lumix from a couple years ago. I shoot in RAW, in Aperture priority, usually f2.0-3.5, +2 sharpness, +2 contrast, +2 saturation, noise reduction -1. I aim to shoot in 100-200 ISO and to keep the shutter speed at 1/60, keep the camera as steady as possible (I don't have a tripod). I shoot in 4:3 mode for food.

It's almost always dark out when I take food pictures, and the best source of light is directly underneath an under-cabinet halogen lamp above my dish-drying rack. I set the white balance on the camera to AWB or to Halogen, and then correct in Photoshop.

Below is first the picture of last night's pasta puttanesca that I posted on the Dinner thread, and then a version from this morning. Both of them I post-processed in Photoshop - mainly by using Gaussian blur on the dishrack in the background. The second one has been cropped more tightly and has a bit more saturation added in Photoshop, and is sized to 516 px width in 72 dpi, which seems to be the eGullet default thread width (otherwise the board software does additional resizing, which might result in image degradation - I'm not sure).

I didn't do a whole lot to the white balance or the colors in either one. I tried Color Balance in the second one, but none of the sliders seemed to have a huge effect on the overwhelmingly warm, yellow effect. Maybe I should have tried correcting WB first.

Any and all criticisms gladly received, from equipment to presentation of the food to composition to post-processing. I want to learn.

[edit: taking note on the comments about focal length above, I zoomed in a bit to take the photo. I don't know how close I got. The lens is 24-60mm 35 equivalent, but in reality 5-12mm, so I think shallow depth of focus is impossible, but maybe the photos look less distorted to you professionals if they're less wide-angle?

puttanesca.jpg

puttanesca-1.jpg

Edited by patrickamory (log)
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Instead of using gaussian blur on the background, I'd just try to find an uncluttered space, or create an uncluttered space within the view of the camera. Photo studios are often very cluttered visually with wiring, stands, lighting equipment, and such, but the clutter is all outside the frame. Occasionally you want a little kitchen clutter to convey the idea that the photo is taking place in a working kitchen, like for a photo that is part of a cooking demo, but I don't think you need that here. You could put a cutting board on the dish rack, and set the bowl on the cutting board, or temporarily move the dish rack and use the counter for the photo, if that's the spot where you have the best light.

To clean up the presentation, prepare the food separately and transfer it to a clean bowl for the photo. Then with this particular dish, you might put a few fresh capers in the center of the pasta to contrast with the red sauce and to create more of a visual focus--something for the eye to latch on to.

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"----Instead of using gaussian blur on the background, I'd just try to find an uncluttered space, or create an uncluttered space within the view of the camera.----- "

I agree 100%.

Also, a different color bowl (or white) may make the pasta standout more.

I rotated the picture 3 degrees counterclockwise.

Yummy looking dish!

dcarch

Puttanescad.jpg

Puttanesca.jpg

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I can definitely use some advice from your eGullet shutterbugs. I've been following this thread closely, reading up on food photography on the web, and Prawncrackers gave me some good tips in the Dinner thread.

I have Leica P&S - the D-Lux 4, which is really a more expensive Panasonic Lumix from a couple years ago. I shoot in RAW, in Aperture priority, usually f2.0-3.5, +2 sharpness, +2 contrast, +2 saturation, noise reduction -1. I aim to shoot in 100-200 ISO and to keep the shutter speed at 1/60, keep the camera as steady as possible (I don't have a tripod). I shoot in 4:3 mode for food.

It's almost always dark out when I take food pictures, and the best source of light is directly underneath an under-cabinet halogen lamp above my dish-drying rack. I set the white balance on the camera to AWB or to Halogen, and then correct in Photoshop.

Below is first the picture of last night's pasta puttanesca that I posted on the Dinner thread, and then a version from this morning. Both of them I post-processed in Photoshop - mainly by using Gaussian blur on the dishrack in the background. The second one has been cropped more tightly and has a bit more saturation added in Photoshop, and is sized to 516 px width in 72 dpi, which seems to be the eGullet default thread width (otherwise the board software does additional resizing, which might result in image degradation - I'm not sure).

I didn't do a whole lot to the white balance or the colors in either one. I tried Color Balance in the second one, but none of the sliders seemed to have a huge effect on the overwhelmingly warm, yellow effect. Maybe I should have tried correcting WB first.

Any and all criticisms gladly received, from equipment to presentation of the food to composition to post-processing. I want to learn.

[edit: taking note on the comments about focal length above, I zoomed in a bit to take the photo. I don't know how close I got. The lens is 24-60mm 35 equivalent, but in reality 5-12mm, so I think shallow depth of focus is impossible, but maybe the photos look less distorted to you professionals if they're less wide-angle?

puttanesca.jpg

puttanesca-1.jpg

You did a great job on the blur in the first photo. Not so much in the second.

I agree with the others on the dish rack. I too have only one spot with suitable light (after dark), mine is on the stop top under the hood lights. Sometimes with enough shallow dof, the stove racks compliment the photos. When they don't I whip out my cutting board. Or, take extreme closeups where the food fills the frame. Remember, you don't have to include the whole serving dish to convey your vision.

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Thanks ChefCrash. Really useful. Yes, looking at the selection in the second pic it's clearly botched in a few places :wacko:

Or, take extreme closeups where the food fills the frame. Remember, you don't have to include the whole serving dish to convey your vision.

I do try this, but it's not always so appetizing, especially with stews, curries and so on - there's just a big mound of food and you don't get a sense of the scale. At least in my experience so far.

P.S. ChefCrash: we're all waiting with baited breath for the next phase of the kishk experiment!

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Or, take extreme closeups where the food fills the frame. Remember, you don't have to include the whole serving dish to convey your vision.

I do try this, but it's not always so appetizing, especially with stews, curries and so on - there's just a big mound of food and you don't get a sense of the scale. At least in my experience so far.

You could always try photographing things head-on.

Like so:

4784590804_48312a4407_b.jpg

beans.jpg

Okay, perhaps not a good suggestion, but you get the idea.

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  • 4 months later...

You hear this all the time, “ I am sorry about the quality of my photos, they were taken with my cell phone.”

In reality, a cell phone’s camera is a very capable optical device. I have used my cell phone to take pictures for many of my past posts here. Used properly you will be amazed what a cell phone camera can do.

All the following pictures were taken with my cell phone.

Pictures of my dish of gulf shrimps with fiddlehead fern and beet stems.

  1. Picture C – Elephant garlic. Giant gloves, (compare them with the peppers), not a bad shot?
  2. Piture D - a macro shot of strawberry seeds.
  3. Picture A – a macro shot of a single brown rice.
  4. Picture B – a macro shot of two sesame seeds, one black and one white.

Macro shots were done by putting a magnifying glass in front of the lens.

Two important things will get you very good pictures with a cell phone camera:

Good bright lights and steady tripod.

dcarch

4625b9f3.jpg

ec8010a1.jpg

c82ebc66.jpg

a7632f11.jpg

95668657.jpg

ed52de62.jpg

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what type of cell phone are you using? photos look great. what are the silver handled things in the first two photos? they look like forks, but i see the bamboo skewers seem to protrude from them--skewer handles??

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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It's probably completely true what you say - with bright lights and a tripod I'm sure a mobile phone camera can do fantastic things. The thing is though, when I'm using a mobile phone for food pictures, it's usually when I'm eating out (maybe on the street or in a restaurant) and I want to take a photo discretely. Quite frankly, whipping out a big SLR, or even an ordinary little digital camera, would make me look like a complete lunatic. I don't even want people to know I'm taking a pic with my phone, I just pretend I'm knocking off a text or something.

My current phone camera takes ok pics, but I'm thinking about upgrading because I do spend a lot of time taking food snaps on my phone in this way. Does anyone here have any suggestions for a phone with a superior camera? I hear the latest offering from HTC is supposed to be pretty good in this area.

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Jenni, amongst our (eG) company you would not be considered a lunatic if you took a portable lightbox out in a restaurant, attached a white light, asked a waiter to plug in whilst you got your tripod out and clamped your phone to it; all to demonstrate how you could take a great photo with your moby. Not insane at all, just on the eccentric side of obsessive! What's wrong with using a discrete little compact camera in a restaurant? I use a little Canon S95 and it's great for those low light situations, with no flash it takes pretty decent pictures. I don't think any camera phone will come close to it's performance, not for a few years yet anyway.

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Prawncrackers, that kind of thing just doesn't happen in the sort of very casual and basic places I usually eat at here in India. Not in mid range places either. It would attract a lot of unwanted attention and I would feel very uncomfortable. Perhaps in very posh restaurants, but even then I think it would be regarded with great amusement by all staff and other diners nearby. And on the street? Forget about it. May as well carry a sign that says "I'm rich and foolish! Please relieve me of some of my wealth!"

I don't expect a mobile phone to take photos as good a proper fancy camera. I don't expect my photos to be the best of the best! But I spend a lot of my time seeking out good eating places, especially of the non fancy kind, and as part of my reporting back I do like to include a basic photo of what I ate, whenever it's possible. I don't want to attract a lot of attention and make people feel uncomfortable, so my standard method is to use my mobile. Mobiles are not eye catching and exciting, they don't make people stop to see what you are doing. I like the method, I just need to get slightly better equipment and I know it's available because at the moment I'm using a comparatively basic phone camera.

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Ah right in that situation yes you want to be as discrete as possible, i thought you were living in this country. The new Sony Experia phone has a 12MP camera now but it is quite large. From all reports the camera is fantastic.

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what type of cell phone are you using? photos look great. what are the silver handled things in the first two photos? they look like forks, but i see the bamboo skewers seem to protrude from them--skewer handles??

Just your normal Blackberry cell phone camera.

Those are skew holders. They hold two skewers so that food will not flop around.

dcarch

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I believe dcarch could take great photos with a shoebox, a pewter plate and some bitumen.

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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My iphone got beyond scratched, and I started using my Nikon 1-- and the quality of photos went up, I think partially because it's nicer to hold.

These are all from a recent Manresa trip-- love advice/critique

I've been thinking of composition more, and I really prefer ant's eye view to documentation view

7222725476_9218ba24e4.jpg

DSC_5459 by Box and Arrow, on Flickr

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DSC_5456 by Box and Arrow, on Flickr

How do you capture clever plating tricks?

7222673316_3c4316926d.jpg

DSC_5449 by Box and Arrow, on Flickr

or action shots?

7222750424_49b8bbc583.jpg

DSC_5467 by Box and Arrow, on Flickr

take it before, during, after?

Waiters are remarkably patient these days.

"Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

MetaFooder: linking you to food | @foodtwit

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My trusty Canon SD800IS is starting to have issues - like I broke off part of the dial on the back. Figure it is time to investigate today's crop of pocket cameras. I use mine mostly for restaurant and restaurant food shots for my site and for twitter and facebook; tote it in my pocket most days. Looking for a replacement that is rugged, good in low light without flash and has good white balance.

Also wondering if, instead, I should just update my iphone. Mine is about two and a half years old and I'm not satisfied with pics from it, but the latest versiion seems impressive.

All guidance is welcome. Thanks.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Et Alors - the composition of the first shot is lovely, but the second (for me at least) is suffering because there's too much white ground competing vs. the food itself. Here's what I'd do (apart from white balancing etc) - pull the focus inwards to really feature the food. I get the sense that you were conflicted between showing the entire plate (it is a nice piece of tableware) and the food itself; in those cases I always go for the food, since it's generally the point of the photo.

So this:

7222712824_6d4bfa7138.jpg

Becomes this:

VersionA.jpg

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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My trusty Canon SD800IS is starting to have issues - like I broke off part of the dial on the back. Figure it is time to investigate today's crop of pocket cameras. I use mine mostly for restaurant and restaurant food shots for my site and for twitter and facebook; tote it in my pocket most days. Looking for a replacement that is rugged, good in low light without flash and has good white balance.

Also wondering if, instead, I should just update my iphone. Mine is about two and a half years old and I'm not satisfied with pics from it, but the latest versiion seems impressive.

All guidance is welcome. Thanks.

Coincidentally I researched cameras with almost the exact same requirements in December of last year. Ended up with the Nikon Coolpix P300. Not a camera guy so proceed with caution.

This camera was initially suggested to me as a lower-cost alternative to the Canon Powershot S100, which was my first choice, based on the advice of people who -are- camera guys. The S100 is supposed to offer serious photographers the same quality and control they get from a DSLR, in a pocket-sized package. Having played around with an S100 since then, I feel the P300 not in the same category:

-P300 does not save RAW images, S100 does.

-P300 has smaller sensor compared to S100, resulting in less control over depth of field.

-P300 has less control immediately available to the operator, compared to S100.

On the other hand, it does offer a lot more control than other comparably-priced pocket cameras and low-light performance is IMO better than the S100. In fact I don't think I've seen a camera that takes better photos in iffy light.

The case that came with the P300 was a disappointment. I think it must be "generic Nikon pocket-sized" rather than made for this model. However, 15 minutes at a Best Buy netted me a perfectly good case for under $10 USD. Other than that, the accessories are pretty much what you'd expect.

Another feature I wanted was a short lens; one of the shortcomings of my old camera was that I often couldn't get everything I wanted into a frame with landscape-type photos. On close-up photos, however, the short lens gives you somewhat disconcerting results at first. This is easily avoided by using a bit of zoom. It's also fun to faff around with for artsy shots.

The P300 uses a proprietary battery rather than AA or AAA. You can get a spare (I did!) but recharging is done in the camera body, so you'll be out of luck if you forgot to recharge the batteries at the hotel and run out of juice right when you could get a fantastic shot of the Nepalese Royal Guard on parade.

Overall I think it's a very good camera for taking quick snaps in situations where you might not have the greatest control over light, but you might miss the fine control and RAW capabilities if you're used to a DSLR.

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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Thanks. Am checking out the Nikon P300.

I was leaning towards the S100 but there are numerous customer complaints on both Amazon and Canon Store site re lens error with lens not closing and blurry pic - comments about quality control issues. Wondering if I'm smarter going with a S95?

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Fickle is as fickle does. Am spending way too much time researching this. Now I'm liking the DSC-RX100 which is coming out in July.

Edited to add, looks like you need to click through an advertisement to see the review/preview.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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