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Behemoth

Food Shutter Bug Club (Part 1)

585 posts in this topic

tana, it's not so much a rule but a technique that has its place. Jason has been using the crop and enlarge trick relentlessly as of late and has come up with some really nice images. Chad's salt cellar avatar is also noteworthy. The cellar itself is centered in the frame but the lid and shadow bleed off.

I still don't think I comprehend. Can you link some posts or threads or something?

One of the basic rules (as I understood them, before I ever held a camera, but just read in educational books in my Memaw's house as a child) was that the edges of subjects (e.g., the edge of a shirtsleeve) should not line up with the borders. I understand it to be like having a telephone pole or tree out of the top of someone's head: be aware, and don't let this happen to you.

I really would like to see an example of the base of a bowl "sitting on the bottom of the picture," or whatever it is you're talking about. I can't imagine that you can possibly be describing what I am imagining as any kind of a good photographic technique.

Thanks, pjs. (PJs? Jammies? Initials? Heh.)

Um, I am enjoying my camera.

The learning curve is steep. I want a mentor. Wah!


Edited by tanabutler (log)

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Thanks to FG'S most brilliant suggestion, we are starting a little crit-circle for food photography. As I have absolutely no shame and a boundless hunger for knowledge, I have decided to submit a couple of photos for your amusement. Tell me what I did wrong, tell me what I did right, tell me how I can make it all better.

First one I kinda liked. Following the example of heidihi, I shot this in daylight. The annoying thing is the sweat on the top of the egg (it came out of the fridge), which I only noticed once I had put everything away.

i8560.jpg

The second one was less successful. I wanted to replicate a restaurant situation, shooting in low light. I didn't bother with shutter speeds or anything, just used night mode on preset, and steadied my camera on a piece of cloth, on the back of a chair. The good thing is its not too blurry. The bad thing is...eh, pretty much everything else. Advice?

i8357.jpg

egg: too much dead space in the background..see the little strip of white whatever at the top of the image..the one that is not the tablecover(or whatever uponwhich the egg is placed) shouldnt be there...not enough light...at least on my screen..open aperture..use a tripod..you used a brown egg..try using a white egg on a white egg holder with a white background..underexpose because your camera meter will overexpose for compensating all the whites...make sure you get all the shades of white...yes, there are different shades of white and well captured,its sublime...place your tripod exactly in a straight line from the egg...you have placed the subject in the centre...use the rule of thirds....composition wise,its never a good idea to place the subject slam bang in the centre...because of how the eye draws it in..the egg image has potential..try again..

the second one is really beyond redemption...dont be offended i said so...the composition is whacked...half a candle light...cant see the label..doesnt convey anything..i see no glasses...a winebottle/candlescene should be 'warm'...place a couple of glasses(photographing glass is always tricky becauseit will reflect the light of the candle..use light reflectors..or foil over books)...place a cheese board and sliced apples..make sure all the lines are straight...your depth of field should be such that everthing is in focus..(for me, at least..there is no point in an elaborate tabletop setup if you are not going tohighlight the subjects)...however..remember that if the subject is 'wine'...it should stand out ...if the glasses or the candle or the apples or the cheese is not the subject..its the wine...makesure there is enough light and sharp focus to read the label...make sure your reflection with the camera in hand doesnt appear on the wine bottle or glasses

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There have been a lot of comments on the technical aspects of the egg-cup-placemat photo so I wouldn't add much to that discussion, but I would caution against becoming overly distracted by pure technical analysis.

I'm finding it difficult to consider the egg-cup-placemat photo in the abstract, without an idea as to purpose. A stock photography agency might get a request for "a nice photo of a brown egg in an egg cup" and someone might choose to do "art photography" of an egg, but outside of those special cases most photos are taken with a context in mind. On eGullet probably 99% of the photos we see are taken with the goal of documentation in mind (consciously or not). They are about documenting what you ate, what you cooked, how you cooked it, what you saw at the market, what you saw on your kitchen tour, what your knife collection looks like . . . and I think there are a lot of technical issues we can address in those types of photos, both at the composition and postprocessing stages, in order to make them more pleasing to the eye. But that won't make them more valuable as pure documentation. That is I think why we as a whole welcome photos on eGullet even if they're "bad" photos, because we are as an audience more interested in the informational content of the photos than in the aesthetics of the photos. As long as they're in focus and we can make sense of the colors, they're serving the primary eGullet purpose.

Looking at the egg-cup-placemat photo the first thing I ask myself is what it's a photo of. Is it a photo of an egg, a cup, or a placemat? To think of it as an advertisement, which product is it advertising? To think of it as a magazine photo (it is close in style to a food magazine editorial or advertising photo, which is why I'm using those comparisons), what is the story about? To me the most interesting and prominent feature of the photo is the placemat whereas the cup and the egg are registering in my mind as props. I think, composed a little differently and with some tweaks, this would be a good start towards an illustration of an interesting placemat, say for a placemat advertisement or the "Tabletop" column in Food Arts where they look at what kinds of place settings and accessories different restaurants are using. These questions of purpose are the kinds of questions that stylists are always asking themselves. When those questions are not answered -- for example when a magazine article is illustrated with a stock image -- there is a different feel to everything. But on eGullet of course we have very few styled photos. We have mostly documentary snapshots. No expert in food styling am I, so I have no good suggestions regarding how I would reorient that photo, but it is something to think about.


Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Maybe this undertaking would benefit from a little more classroom structure.

A good model might be the classes I've taken at the Gotham Writers Workshop. Every member of the class has to submit work for group critique. Obviously there is nobody offering critique who will not eventually be critiqued and that helps with the level of sensitivity and helps to rein in overkill. It might be smart with this group to create a schedule whereby 8 or so people agree to put up photos on a preset schedule of 2-3 days of critique for each person's work and only the other 7 people get to critique it. Then move on to another group of 8. Just one idea.

Another smart rule in the GWW: they refer to the person being critiqued as being in "the box." In other words when it is your turn to be critiqued you are not allowed to defend yourself, explain yourself, or even speak except to answer the most basic questions. Your only job when in "the box" is to listen and learn.


Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I'll step in with a photo I took last week that I was less than happy with. I also think it demonstrates a technical point, so some of you may find it helpful.

I took this shot of some pineapple saute for my journal. I shot it in nice warm diffused afternoon light, and was generally happy with it:

pineapplesaute.jpg

A few days later, I was in a rush and shot the following picture of these pupusas, in the same exact location, but at a different time of day. It was early morning, light was really on the other side of the house, and I was too lazy to move everything. Notice how much bluer, and 'cooler' the light is, especially in the shadow behind the lunchpail. I don't like it as much, and wish I had made the extra effort to either wait, or move to slightly better light.

pupusas.jpg

To address some of the more general ongoing discussion points here....In my mind it is important to strive towards improving the overall aesthetic of your shots even if your purpose just tends towards documenting where you are and what you are eating -- if only for the following reason. Every chef and good cook knows that the way something is presented impacts the way a person feels about what they are tasting. Presentation is always a consideration. When you post a picture, it is in a sense an extension of their presentation.

If someone is putting in alot of time and effort towards making your meal special, you need to strive towards shooting their creations with the same care and sensitivity, especially if you intend on sharing pictures of their creations publically. When you are telling me what an amazing dining experience you've had in one of your posts and you include a picture, I want the photograph to support what you are saying, aesthetically. It is not something that happens overnight, but it is something to strive for.

I know the photography learning curve can feel steep, but it is important to learn from your experiences, look at your work critically, and get over some of those initial technical hurdles, until you are shooting the kind of pictures you aspire to be shooting.

Of all the technical photography books I've had over the years, this is the one I have kept. I'm a visual learner and it is great at showing you technical information through easy to understand full-color examples. Worth a peek.


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Heidi Swanson

101 Cookbooks

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

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Sorry -- but I have a vision of this thread existing in 2050 with the same two stupid photos and some comments like "well, you should have used the quantoform-splineificator to get rid of the semi-stable empinoscopalofers."

Well, I"m using Paint Shop Pro 5,897,642:001 which only has the triform-splineficator so I always put the semi-stable empinoscopalofers on a digiform layer which I then mask with the splatchcocking tool.


Edited by Arey (log)

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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Hey y'all. I have been hesitating jumping in because I'm a photo spatchcocker myself, and I don't think much about rules and regulations, but it's a nice idea to share ideas. :cool:

Heidihi, I think that your photos are just wonderful. Your market shots look almost as if they have been composed in the studio! I think the best one of your market shots is the one with the different kinds of rice. They are great!

I am certainly not a professional at all. And the photos I take are all completely 100% records, I do very little to compose or arrange, just snapshots. My goal in many photos is to convey information about a place. One thing I always try to do, when out shooting at the markets, is to capture signs of life and activity along with the photos - not be afraid to let other things bleed into the shots. This can be conveyed by objects that hint at the context of the photo, for example, if I'm shooting at a market, for example, I try and include something that hints to activities going on there, and the place - price plaques with examples of the language, and the likes as a part of the shot. As long as there's something drawing the eye within the frame to the primary object, I can have parts of other things building up a kind of patchwork of background information.

IMG_0601.JPG

About Heidi's pineapple shot: I love that bowl, because it has an irregular shape. The counterpoint between the colorfields in the created landscape, which are extreme in their artifice with the color and low horizon line, contrast beautifully with the organic irregularity of the bowl. That shot seems to be about that bowl. I'm not sure if the horizon line being so low sits well with me, I'd put it at least 1/3 up from the bottom, unless heidi was composing it to include some type above it on the background - like this. (just an example, done very badly with the "paint" program)

00pineapplesaute.jpg

Goodnight! :smile:


Edited by bleudauvergne (log)

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tana, it's not so much a rule but a technique that has its place. Jason has been using the crop and enlarge trick relentlessly as of late and has come up with some really nice images. Chad's salt cellar avatar is also noteworthy. The cellar itself is centered in the frame but the lid and shadow bleed off.

I still don't think I comprehend. Can you link some posts or threads or something?

One of the basic rules (as I understood them, before I ever held a camera, but just read in educational books in my Memaw's house as a child) was that the edges of subjects (e.g., the edge of a shirtsleeve) should not line up with the borders. I understand it to be like having a telephone pole or tree out of the top of someone's head: be aware, and don't let this happen to you.

I really would like to see an example of the base of a bowl "sitting on the bottom of the picture," or whatever it is you're talking about. I can't imagine that you can possibly be describing what I am imagining as any kind of a good photographic technique.

Thanks, pjs. (PJs? Jammies? Initials? Heh.)

Um, I am enjoying my camera.

The learning curve is steep. I want a mentor. Wah!

PJ=Paranormal Jumper. :wink:


"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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I am certainly not a professional at all.  And the photos I take are all completely 100% records, I do very little to compose or arrange, just snapshots.  My goal in many photos is to convey information about a place.  One thing I always try to do, when out shooting at the markets, is to capture signs of life and activity along with the photos - not be afraid to let other things bleed into the shots.  This can be conveyed by objects that hint at the context of the photo, for example, if I'm shooting at a market, for example, I try and include something that hints to activities going on there, and the place - price plaques with examples of the language, and the likes as a part of the shot.  As long as there's something drawing the eye within the frame to the primary object, I can have parts of other things building up a kind of patchwork of background information. 

Good points, Lucy.

I agree with the "too much 'head room' " in the pineapple picture. Cropping would make the picture better....focusing more on the point of the image.

As for your snapshots, you obviously have an eye for photography. Even when you "just take a picture", your pictures are usually framed very well, meaning you're able to make a point/tell a story with your photos. The viewer takes one look and understands what you are trying to convey.

Some people have the "eye" inately, some develop it over time and some will never "get it".

I think that digital photography will become an important learning tool for anyone who wants to develop their "eye". Afterall, you don't have to waste money printing out photos. You can just call it up on the computer and then delete it after you've learned all you can from the photo then go on and shoot a lot more pictures to learn from.


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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I am peeking in to say that the learning curve on my new Canon is very steep. Even though the body and functionality are related and similar to the G1 Powershot, there are a lot more buttons and dials. I hope I live long enough to become intuitive with the camera. Right now, there are a great many lip-biting moments when I'm staring at it, wondering how to get it to do what I can get the G1 to do.

No complaints.

Further: the colors are just extraordinarily brilliant. This is completely unretouched.

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Some people have the "eye" inately, some develop it over time and some will never "get it". 

I'm not sure that's true. It's entirely possible that there are people who say they'll never "get it" who don't want to take the time to practice and learn. I believe that the eye is something that always can be refined, that we'll never quit learning.

I have a friend who is a rather (well, very) established photographer. In addition to a lot of press and documentary work, she does b&w portraits of the stars. Her mantra is two words - "detached involvement". Detached in that she can step back and work on the technical aspects of what she's doing with intense deliberation within a very short time frame, and involved, because she gives, or better, abandons herself completely to every single one of her shots. I can see a photo that she's done and tell it's hers right away. She can take a photo of a parking meter and I can say - yep, she did that.

You can just call it up on the computer and then delete it after you've learned all you can from the photo then go on and shoot a lot more pictures to learn from.

:laugh::laugh: The pack rat in me has difficulty doing that.

Tana, bon courage in mastering the buttons and dials! :cool:

edited to delete repetition and boring subject matter :blush:


Edited by bleudauvergne (log)

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Further: the colors are just extraordinarily brilliant. This is completely unretouched.

welcome to the world of L-series lens, tana.. :biggrin: its beautiful in here...

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Further: the colors are just extraordinarily brilliant. This is completely unretouched.

welcome to the world of L-series lens, tana.. :biggrin: its beautiful in here...

Yeah, baby!

It reminds me of being a very young child, when everything was so bright and immediate and kind of psychedelic.

I am having a hard time with these controls, though. Having to carry the G1 around as a back-up to make sure I can get the shots I need.

Tonight is a big, professional shoot at a very nice restaurant. We'll see how that goes.

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My Canon Powershot Pro1 came today. It is light, small, gorgeous, ergonomic, and as mysterious and powerful as a newborn baby.

Wow! tanabutler, I just looked up your camera. You've got an incredible piece of digital magic there!. It even has the FlexiZone AF/AE where you can move the Auto Focus' point of focus. Very cool. :cool: I've got digital camera envy!

The picture you posted is gorgeous. You are so right about the colors. Also, since it can output RAW format, you've got the flexibility you'll need for post-processing in Photoshop.

Good luck with the restaurant gig!


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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It even has the FlexiZone AF/AE where you can move the Auto Focus' point of focus.

To me, this is "BLAH BLAH BLAH Ginger" (for those who know the old cartoon about "what dogs hear"). :laugh: No, I think I know what you mean, but I can only do that with the manual open and my tongue sticking out of the side of my mouth.

Thanks, Toliver.

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Great thread. I've been having more of a technical than asthetic problem with my pictures...

For the White Cake thread over on the Pastry & Baking forum, I've been attempting to take some very close pics of the various cakes to show their texture. However, since the cakes are so white, I've not been able to use the flash without gettting a huge, blurred mess. But not using the flash resulted in some loss of detail. Here is one of the no-flash pics that has been manipulated to increase the sharpness a bit and to brighten it up to real-life color.

i7305.jpg

Any ideas to improve the detail? Maybe another light source?

Also, I initially photographed the cakes on a dark-colored plate, but there was far too much constrast for my little Canon PowerShot S110 and the cake was a total white blob.

I did have a bit better luck with the darker banana cakes when I could use the flash...

i6994.jpg

To me, this is "BLAH BLAH BLAH Ginger" (for those who know the old cartoon about "what dogs hear"). :laugh:
One of my all-time favorite cartoons!

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mktye, it seems to me that many kinds of light--a standard flash certainly--would indeed make that cake almost invisible. It seems to me that you actually could light it better with more natural light. You need some warm yellow light in there, not the blueish-white you might get otherwise.

Also, again, this is from the standpoint of an ignoramus on most of these things, but I wonder if this is one case where you should be shooting against a black background instead of a white one. Someone who actually knows the science should pipe up here... it just seems to make sense to me.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Wow! What a shot!

Did anyone notice that the vertical element of the kid and the horizontal element of the surf intersect just about exactly in the center. Also the space above the head and feet is just about equal. IMHO, this is an excellent example of violating the rule of thirds making for a much more interesting picture that makes a real statement. It probably wouldn't have been as powerful in color, either.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I should have said, "I found this website utterly inspirational in every regard." Not just that one shot.

Go inside and look around. The lifestyle and kid sections are superior.

The whole thing is. He's working with a new kind of lens.

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I think the best shots I have taken recently are from the Big Apple Barbecue Block party, particularly on the second day, where I got more used to the lighting and shooting conditions. Let me know what you think of some of these that I have "Hand Picked"

jhpbbq19.jpg

jhpbbq20.jpg

jhpbbq27.jpg

jhpbbq29.jpg

jhpbbq30.jpg

jhpbbq36.jpg

jhpbbq35.jpg

jhpbbq34.jpg

jhpbbq32.jpg

jhpbbq31.jpg

jhp-bbq6.jpg

jhp-bbq3.jpg


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Wowser. That guy is good. One could learn a lot just by studying each picture. Especially his use of depth of field and lighting could translate quite well to food photography. What kind of lens? I couldn't find that information.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Jason... From the standpoint of sheer story value, I like the first one. The action depicted and the composition are right on. I would like a little more light on the face but that is a minor issue. Probably not doable at the time but a little photoshopping might help. No biggy.

For the macro shots, I think I like the ribs the best, second picture. The shot does a great job of conveying the information about texture and structure of a good rib, which, I assume, is the intent rather than an artsy shot.

Is it a coincidence that my favorites are also the first two you selected?


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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