• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Behemoth

Food Shutter Bug Club (Part 1)

585 posts in this topic

Try getting closer. The counter isn't really adding anything to the photo, and extra stuff around the edges of the frame can be a distraction. You could also crop after the fact, but it's better to get it right in the camera when you can.

Try shooting at a lower angle or propping the sandwich up to show more of what's inside. This photo's got 90% toasted bread for a 10% sliver of salami, cheese, and something underneath. You could cut it in half on the diagonal and layer one half on top with the cut angled toward the camera to show what's inside.

For examples look at your favorite food magazines or here's a pretty well moderated food styling group on flickr--

http://www.flickr.com/groups/foodstylism/pool/

Sandwiches are tricky, because the interesting part is between the bread, but check out these quesadillas--

Meksikietiški paplotėliai

or this croissant sandwich--

Oregano & Parsely Pinenut Pesto

or this burger--

Lamb-burger


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I tried taking the photo from in closer, from a lower angle, and tried to make a more interesting composition.. It was too late for sunlight so this was taken in fluorescent light. Still life with tacos, by Dakki.

IMG_2032v2.jpg

Pre-messing around with, for comparison:

IMG_2032.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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BIG improvement! The lower angle and tighter composition work well.

Fluorescent gives nice even light, but it's very tricky for most cameras to figure out the white balance, because the bulbs may be warm, cool, or daylight balanced on the red/blue spectrum, but they also usually have a green spike, so they tend to require some rebalancing toward magenta. It looks like the image from the camera is fairly neutral with a bit of a bias toward blue-green, but you did a fine job of warming it up in post. The colors look vivid but natural, and the food looks appealing, which is the main thing (and tricky with things like ground meat--garnishing with parsley is a good move)!


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, David.

Looking at the photo again the limes seem somewhat out of focus. Would it look better if I had set the focus on the middle of the plate and then moved the camera to get the angle I want instead of focusing on the taco in the foreground? Would a stronger light source help with the depth of field? I'm thinking I could clamp a desk lamp on my counter and put a strong bulb in it, maybe cover it in white cloth to fake a larger light source.


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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Letting the background go out of focus is fine, and I'd say it's a good aesthetic choice with this kind of subject, but what you might do is put the limes in the foreground and in focus, since cut limes are more photogenic than ground taco meat.

Of course more light or a longer exposure time (which will require a tripod) will let you use a smaller aperture and get more depth of field, but sometimes narrow depth of field and selective focus is more attractive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your advice David.

I posted that photo in my Facebook profile and got ten recipe requests (so far). The previous record was three, for something much, much fancier. I guess presentation makes all the difference!


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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will echo most of has already been said in this thread.

Good photography is not all about expensive cameras (mine is a really crappy Nikon Coolpix L3 for example, that I've had for four years); the importance of abundant light cannot be overstated enough. Use Picasa or a similar program for touchups. I find that white or neutral backdrops help a great deal. I like to crop photos, especially if there's too much going on in the background of the pic or if I want to train someone's eyes to look at a specific point in the shot.

Also, practice, practice, practice. You'll find that your skills will improve over time. Be observant in the world around you. Be open to new ideas. Take inspiration from other people. And most importantly, have fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We may be looking at something different, but under the "Frequently bought together" so-called deal, the three books together are $50.75.

Individually, the first book is $17.13

The second book is $16.49

The third book is $17.13.

That adds up to $50.75.

Try to find one book that will start with the basics. Something like National Geographic's Field Guide which isn't about food photography, but talks about composition and exposure as well as other topics.

Better yet, go to your local library and take a look at the photography books they have and borrow a few. If you find one or two that you really like, then buy them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bleh, I wasn't looking at the prices.

There's no public library here so that's out. One would think National Geographic's Field Guide would be more about wildlife and landscape photos? Or is it a generalist handbook?


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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I purchased stuff twice through Amazon's bundling system before I realized I was getting a deal. It was stuff I was going to purchase separately, anyway (camera stuff, actually), but I was still annoyed with myself when I realized the prices were the same.

As I mentioned, the Field Guide does discuss things like composition and lighting, and (to me), those are the most crucial aspects to photography of any kind. Depth of field is next, and I'm sure there are other important things, but that's as far as I've gotten.

I used to have a great all-purpose photography book put out by Nikon. It was published in the '70s or '80s and I think is out of print now. The brief search I did only shows model-specific Nikon photography books.

There are some very good online food photography tutorials, mostly on food-related blogs. I can't remember any of them off-hand (I think David Lebovitz had one, and maybe Canelle et Vanille), but they all seem to link to each other, so if you find one, you can find the rest. Most of them discuss using DSLR cameras, but much of the information is useful for any kind of camera.

Oh, former eG poster Ling has some posts about a food photography internship she did. Her blog is called The Cookbook Chronicles if you want to look for it. The posts presented some useful information, especially for newbie food photographers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to Amazon, the National Geographic Field Guide covers

* Making photographs of people, landscapes, and wildlife

* How-to tips from ten of National Geographic's top photographers

* Charts for selecting the right film, filter, and exposure

* Cameras, lenses, and maintenance

* Using existing light and flash

* Tips on effective composition

* Computers and photography

* Travel tips and gear

* Photography Web sites

Points 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 are all useful for any photographer. Point 2 might be more useful for travel photographers, but I would bet there are some useful ideas in there for any photographer. And if you start to take more photos of other subjects, point 1 would be handy to read about, too. And food is always an important part of travelling, so point 7 will be useful for you eventually!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In addition to David Lebovitz, I've found info from Deb at Smitten Kitchen and Lara at Still Life With to be particularly helpful. Lara recently amalgamated several blogs into one larger site, but check out the tags under Still Life With for specific photo-related topics.


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know the Bryan Peterson books you've listed, but a very useful book for food photographers is Hunter, Biver, and Fuqua's Light: Science and Magic. It's targeted more toward the studio photographer, but the principles of photographic lighting apply to any sort of photography, and you don't need studio flash units to take advantage of this book, if you can think about whatever kind of light you have at hand as if it were studio lighting.

I was conversing online with an automobile photographer once and I asked him how he managed to get such great pictures of cars outdoors when so much effort was expended normally to control reflections and lightings in big car studios, and he said there's always an angle when the light, the reflections, and the background are right, and you just have to learn to see it, then move the car and the camera into the right positions.

Available light food photography is often the same way. You have to think about what the strongest light source in the room is, and that usually becomes the main light, and the other lights you can use to your advantage or isolate or diffuse them so they don't get in the way, and then you can use reflectors and black cards to throw light where you want it or block it when it becomes a distraction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could do worse than start at photo.net's 'learn photography' page -> http://photo.net/learn/

Norman Koren's site has some more advanced, more esoteric stuff and is very knowledgeable and well-presented, but slanted more towards landscape -> http://www.normankoren.com/index.html

I found him very good on setting up the computer monitor -> http://www.normankoren.com/makingfineprints1A.html

If and when you get to Photoshop, I found these very useful -> http://www.myjanee.com/tutorials.htm

Lastly, you may get something out of the articles at clarkvision -> http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/index.html - I found his study of scanner detail fascinating.


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Building on the success of Still Life with Tacos, the producers decided to release a sequel entitled Still Life with Tacos 2: Tortilla's Revenge. Symbolic of their defeat in the original feature, this time the tortillas have been heated directly over a gas burner to give them a "charred" look. Fan favorite secondary character limes have been given a much larger part in this sequel, while chopped beef has been replaced with fish (rumor has it beef has gone into a rehab clinic for a hormone and antibiotic problem. Beef's agent could not be reached for comment before publication).

Unfortunately the sequel does not live up to the original cult classic:

IMG_2042v2.jpg

We also obtained pictures of the film as shot, before the application of computer effects:

IMG_2042.jpg

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I quickly took about two dozen pictures of that in different lights and modes, and at different angles, and that was the most decent one. Most of the others were pictures of limes with some tacos in the background.

This photo... I know it's not right but I don't have the training to say why. Part of the problem is too much brown and green I think. The taco without the cilantro looks underfilled too, and coarsely-chopped fish just isn't very photogenic I guess!

The tacos were consumed with salsa molcajeteada (not very photogenic either so I left it out of the pic) and were quite all right for a 15-minutes-to-the-table supper.


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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks like you're using full sun or some other very bright, direct light, which can be very effective, but is harder to work with, because you need to pay more attention to shadows that could be distracting. You're using a smaller aperture, so you have more depth of field, which means more detail in the background and it's less clear where the viewer should be looking.

When you're very close to the subject, particularly if you are using a wide lens (or a wide setting on a zoom lens), objects in the foreground will look unnaturally large, so the limes are taking over a bit. You could use fewer limes or smaller wedges. You could also move them more into the lower right hand corner, so you've got a nice splash of color in the foreground, but not front and center.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I put a strong bulb over the stove. Maybe too strong? I also turned off the kitchen lights in order not to mix different types of light.

Should I take photos from further away and use the optical zoom? (I know I shouldn't use digital zoom).


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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the look of the shadows, it seems to me you've got the main light not only above, but slightly behind the subject (i.e. on the other side from the camera). The light is shining into the camera - so the camera adjusts to shut out more light than necessary, and you get the flat appearance in your original picture. Backlighting itself is perhaps the most difficult to shoot effectively.

You might get an improvement even by taking the shot with the subject in the same place, but from either side. Otherwise, you'll need to place the plate somewhere else, move the light, or change the lighting.

It's true that mixed light sources can be unpredictable and difficult to manage - yet you may find by experiment that a particular mix works for you. As for digital zoom, it's true that you lose ultimate resolution when you use it, but it's also true that when you're posting your photos to the web the finer resolutions don't make any difference (they're more important when you try to make very big prints, 8" x 11" or larger, say). Digital zoom is a compromise you might sometimes (often, even) consider making.

This shot, like many of mine, was lit by the two overhead incandescent spotlights I installed over the stove (you can see two highlights on the rear side of the rim), and whatever ambient fluorescent light got reflected around the kitchen from the overhead. The two spots are above and to either side, and a little in front of the subject.

It's also digital-zoomed pretty much to the max, I think, and shot in automatic balance, automatic metering mode and macro mode, at 1/6sec (also automatic), using a tripod and a ten-year-old no-optical-zoom compact digital camera.

DSCF0003.JPG

I shot this one in a light box made up according to a link in the photography pages (?) here on eG, from an old cardboard box and 10 cents' worth of tissue paper. I sat the box next the window for the natural light, then screwed up by leaving the room lights on - you can see the shadow of the tripod, and the room lights reflected on the bowl. But you can also see the soft-light potential of the light box, I think.

DSCF0027.JPG


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMG_2063v2.jpg

So, yeah, fried squid. Natural mid-afternoon sunlight from a window on the left side, AUTO setting. Messed with the photo a bit on FastStone, it was blue and a bit dark before.

I'm not completely happy with the way the limes came out (better to put them on the side where the light was?)


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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's the angle the photo was taken.

That's why I will take at least 50 to 100 shots of a finished dish from different points of view. Rarely is the finished pic an overhead shot.

David G's suggestion in the other post about varying placement of the limes seems on point in this picture as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope all of our wonderful photographers have seen this : http://leitesculinaria.com/43849/culinaria-food-photography-contest.html . The recipes must come from the site, but that leaves a WIDE selection.

Note to Moderators:I posted this in the interest of letting our members know about the contest. I am in no way affiliated with Leits Culinaria! Delete or move at will.


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, yeah, fried squid. Natural mid-afternoon sunlight from a window on the left side, AUTO setting. Messed with the photo a bit on FastStone, it was blue and a bit dark before.

I love the colours in this picture, though for me they burst out better if I use a hand to cover the giant opal in the background, top left. Citrus fruit has a magic translucence that works really well with light shining into and/or through it, so yes, they might have been more striking on the other side.

Where is the focus - I mean at what distance ? are you stood-back-and-zoomed-in, or close-up-and-macro-mode ? My best guess is that you shot freehand and there's just a tiny amount of camera movement that's blurred the sharpness across pretty much the whole image. I could almost be persuaded that the squid legs, right at the front, are in focus - but I don't see sharpness in the plate at the same distance from the camera, so I think the sharpness in the legs is an illusion.

When I was younger I used to combat that kind of camera shake by just concentrating more on being still. These days I park the tripod just next to my zimmer frame.


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMG_2069v2.jpg

Shrimp ceviche, fluorescent light, no flash, AUTO/macro setting. You can see the white background still looks blue even after I messed with the colors. What gives?


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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.