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Food Shutter Bug Club (Part 1)


Behemoth
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Thanks, Owen. That Pixresizer is "da bomb".

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'l be the next victim. I don't have any current food pics to discuss but now that I finally produced a real rosetta pattern on one of my recent latte pours, it seems a good time to discuss. The first pic is more or less uncropped and has no adjustments of any kind.

i9121.jpg

The next is with some brightness, contrast and color adjustments done but also a bit of touching up for things like espresso spots on the cup rim, marks on the cutting board etc. (I know it's anal but that's the way I am and I can live with it :biggrin: )

i9122.jpg

The reddish color of the espresso's crema is difficult to capture without manipulation - I think I've done an okay job of getting that aspect. I need input on composition and also some suggestiosn for how to eliminate the sheen of the reflected light on the foamed milk. This was shot with diffuse natural light - no flash and no artificial light. I still see reflections that are troubling and wonder if there's a simple solution. perhaps a sheet of frosted drafting mylar taped to the window to diffuse the light? Any and all suggestions appreciated.

Jason - one thing I have noticed on both yours and Rachel's pics from time to time - some of the outdoor shots have a bluish cast and others don't. I'm wondering if your camera has been inadvertantly left set to the artificial/incandescent light setting when that occurs?

Like others, I am also enjoying this thread and finding it very helpful

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I really like what you did with that shot. But I am not sure I agree with you about getting rid of the reflections. I kind of like them. The light is obviously directional as indicated by the shadow from the cup. I think the reflections are true to the subject and help define the texture. To me, the directional light with the refections and shadows says "good morning".

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 am going by pixels because of sizing for eGullet. My camera produces 1600x1200 pixel images on its highest resolution. That is what I shoot. For ImageGullet I resize to 640x480. But, I only seem to be able to do that one picture at a time.

I was getting my picture software in order on my new computer today. There's a "Batch Processing" command under "File" in Photoshop Elements. Check it out. I think it does what you want. Robyn

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Whoo Hooo... Found it.

Thanks, robyn.

(Why didn't it come up with the search thingy.)

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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Whoo Hooo... Found it.

Thanks, robyn.

(Why didn't it come up with the search thingy.)

It's never easy to find the things you want in software (there are so many "features" it's hard to find the ones you're looking for). But better late than never. Robyn

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My sister just brought me a copy of the food magazine "Cuisine at Home". It was a gift to her so she has no idea where it came from. A search here has a couple of mentions and says that this mag is pretty basic and for beginners. It is similar to CI in that there is no advertising. The web site here is by subscription.

And now to my point... What blew me away in the magazine was the photography, not the artsy/beauty aspects, but how effective they are. They use a lot of photos to illustrate different steps in a dish and/or techniques. And the photos are "staged" carefully to get the idea across. In the June issue there is a photo of a "simmer" on page 33 where they captured the gentle bubbling just right. I can't say too much about the recipes (though those scones my sister made this morning were dynamite) but, as a study subject for food and technique photography it is worth a look. Even though the web site is by subscription, they let non-subscribers see enough to give you a flavor of what they are doing with the photography. (They also have video on the site.) Click on the "Take a Tour" tab and wander around.

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'l be the next victim. I don't have any current food pics to discuss but now that I finally produced a real rosetta pattern on one of my recent  latte pours, it seems a good time to discuss. The first pic is more or less uncropped and has no adjustments  of any kind.

i9121.jpg

The next is with some brightness, contrast and color adjustments done but also a bit of touching up for things like espresso spots on the cup rim, marks on the cutting board etc. (I know it's anal but that's the way I am and I can live with it  :biggrin:  )

i9122.jpg

The reddish color of the espresso's crema is difficult to capture without manipulation - I think I've done an okay job of getting that aspect. I need input on composition and also some suggestiosn for how to eliminate the sheen of the reflected light on the foamed milk. This was shot with diffuse natural light - no flash and no artificial light. I still see reflections that are troubling and wonder if there's a simple solution. perhaps a sheet of frosted drafting mylar taped to the window to diffuse the light?  Any and all suggestions appreciated.

Jason - one thing I have noticed on both yours and Rachel's pics from time to time - some of the outdoor shots have a bluish cast and others don't. I'm wondering if your camera has been inadvertantly left set to the artificial/incandescent light setting when that occurs?

Like others, I am also enjoying this thread and finding it very helpful

Too much contrast in the 'fixed' image. Too much cropping...try shooting it again by lowering your camera..a little shallow depth of field wont hurt...we dont need *everything* to be in sharp focus...it definitely looks as though there is some sort of artificial light...tungsten bulb? what was your 'natural' light source... where was that light being reflected from...i.e. the sheen you mentioned?...re mylar....just buy a diffusion filter...i sometimes rub vaseline on the lens...well..actually the UV filter that is always stuck on my lens...but i wont recommend it....altho you can do some neat streaky diffusion tricks with it...wont work with espresso..but if you are ever venture into florals..........

what camera..what lens...what is your setting...re composition...it seems to me as though you are 'above' the cup...get lower...you are looking *into* the cup...its boring with just a cup of coffee..throw something on the side...a rolled up newspaper...or a pair of glasses...you get the idea...tell a story with your picture...it makes it all the more interesting...also..i am not very fond of centrally placed objects...but thats just me...its a good image...but its worth a reshoot...

edited to add: get rid of the shadows...what was your light source..i think that is the key

Edited by Lalitha (log)
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Thanks lalitha - good points all. I had intended to shoot this under only natural ligfht as it was morning but it appears that I had left on the overhead halogens without realizing it. I'll try a redo when I get back from travel.

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Robyn,

Thanks for pointing out that Photoshop Elements does have the Batch Processing command. I found that out after I installed it on my brother's computer during my vacation.

Actually, I am very impressed that Photoshop Elements does have it. It's quite the good little program and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who can't afford the actual (expensive) Photoshop program. It can do quite a bit of image post-processing.

Ellen,

I'm sorry I didn't get around to processing your images until now. My plan to do it during my vacation didn't work out like I thought it would. :hmmm:

Here are the three pictures you posted along with my post-processed versions. With all three images, there was a slight yellow hue from the lighting that AutoColor corrected. As you can see, I also cropped them and ran them through the Unsharp Mask (an odd name for a filter that sharpens images :blink: ). I also bumped up the saturation a little to make them even more vivid.

I think that my changes to your images have changed their intent, if that makes sense.

59208058.jpg

59208040.jpg

59208055.jpg

Owen,

Count me in as someone who doesn't mind the reflection in your image. I think it helps provide texture to the foam. I also don't mind the tight cropping of the seconed photo since, having read your blog, I know how hard you work on getting the design in the foam and this seems to be the intent of your photo. The wood pattern on the table is dynamic and the overall tan color tone between the coffee and the table is offset by the stark framing of the white cup and saucer. Excellent picture!

Behemoth,

Here's your image with a little post-processing. I brightened it a little, bumped up the saturation even more and ran it through the usual sharpen filter.

59208032.jpg

Regarding your comment about the image being a little dark (IMHO, I don't think it is), I think a small reflector at the bottom of the bowl (off-camera) would have added a "kicker" that would have provided a little highlight on the shrimp shell. But some good post-processing really adds a lot to the image.

 

“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”

 

Tim Oliver

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Robyn,

Thanks for pointing out that Photoshop Elements does have the Batch Processing command.  I found that out after I installed it on my brother's computer during my vacation.

Actually, I am very impressed that Photoshop Elements does have it.  It's quite the good little program and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who can't afford the actual (expensive) Photoshop program.  It can do quite a bit of image post-processing.

You're welcome. My husband got me Photoshop Elements as a gift. I've been working with it for almost a year now - and I'm sure I haven't used 5% of what it can do. Unless you're a professional - I suspect it's more program than most people need. Robyn

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I am especially grateful for this thread... Besides getting the useful tips for photographing food, I got a new photo to hang on our kitchen wall! When I expressed an interest in Helena's greens photo, she was kind enough to send me the file and permit me to get a print made!

I framed a 16x20 and we're thrilled with it.

P.S. I am not asking for my photos of the photo to be critiqued! :laugh:

i9601.jpg

i9600.jpg

Thank you, Helena!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Well, that won't stop me from commenting. That is exceedingly cool. That is certainly a lovely photo and where you have hung it is right on.

You have me thinking about how to display some of my photos in the new house. I don't have a lot of walls but it would be kind of fun to print off some food photos and have a kind of changing display. I am thinking of those clip and glass frames that you can get at Pier One and Ikea. Whatcha think?

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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OK, I will give this a try. All critiques and advice welcome. I am a complete novice at photography (analogue as well as digital) but would like to learn.

This was a bistecca alla fiorentina -- the real thing. The steak came from the val de Chiana, via Esperya. It was cooked and served virtually unadorned: the steak, a bit of salt, a grind of pepper, and (before plating) a splash of olive oil. It is a rough dish, not at all refined; purely for carnivorous pleasure.

I was trying to capture the simplicity of the dish.

First the meat itself:

i9628.jpg

Here's another version, on a white background:

i9629.jpg

The grill pan, heating to the smoke point:

i9630.jpg

The finished steak, resting before being sliced:

i9631.jpg

Ready to eat:

i9632.jpg

I used a tripod and a very show shutter on all of these, so as to avoid the flash. Some practical issues that I suspect real food photographers might not have a problem with: first, we actually ate this, and I wanted to serve it while it was hot and juicy. So the "Ready to eat" photo isn't very elegantly plated.

Second, I didn't want to get grease and smoke all over the camera. So I didn't photograph the steak being cooked; that was too bad, because it was visually interesting, though a bit smoky. What do real photographers do when shooting in greasy/smoky situations?

I enhanced all of these with PaintShop Pro, either using the automatic image improvement script or blundering around with brightness and contrast controls.

The photos aren't very good, but the steak sure was tasty. The first time I had this dish was in a tiny village in Tuscany. Bistecca alla fiorentina was the only dish on offer, and the cows from which it had come were grazing on a hill that the restaurant overlooked. The experience was transcendent. Afterwards I went outdoors, sat on the crest of the hill, and thought about Life.

This time I just washed the dishes. But it was a great steak nonetheless. Milo the dog (see avatar) will get a few scraps for his dinner later on.

All comments and improvement pointers very welcome.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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i9122.jpg

The reddish color of the espresso's crema is difficult to capture without manipulation - I think I've done an okay job of getting that aspect. I need input on composition and also some suggestiosn for how to eliminate the sheen of the reflected light on the foamed milk. This was shot with diffuse natural light - no flash and no artificial light. I still see reflections that are troubling and wonder if there's a simple solution. perhaps a sheet of frosted drafting mylar taped to the window to diffuse the light? Any and all suggestions appreciated.

just a few comments on how you could improve the picture, at least to my eye.

the framing is too standard - it barely adds to your picture, while the quality of the image is very good. taking it from the top does something for it, see the off centre saucer, however i'd prefer to see more of an angle in the shot. on the other hand if you want to draw attention to the foam, or the entire coffe cup and saucer, you need some elements to be out of focus.

having a second look - i prefer the original image, uncropped - although it falls prey to the same issues, less so than in the cropped image. also agree with lalitha, the contrast is too extreme...this takes me back to the emphasis of your object(s); if you apply that level of contrast, in colour, you need to detract from somewhere else in the image. i'd look to create more contrast in the background if needed - or with objects as lalita mentions (newspaper, some crumbs)

nice rosetta!

-che

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Jonathan,

You say you didn't want to use your flash. The problem with that is that the first two images don't have any sort of directional lighting at all. The lighting is very even overall so they're very flat-looking which is compounded by your shooting angle which is almost straight-on. You end up with an image that lacks depth/dimension not to mention contrast. Lighting helps your subject "pop".

That having been said, look at how much better pictures 3 & 4 are. You have good lighting which helps to show off the texture of the well-used skillet and cooktop in picture 3 and the crust on the cooked meat in picture 4. Plus, you've shot both of these pictures at about a 3/4 angle which is much more dynamic than if you had shot them straight overhead.

As for how to deal with the smoke and spattering of cooking food, I'm not a food photographer so I don't know what the pro's do in similar situations. I guess I'd recommend using your zoom function if you're that concerned. Stand back, away from the stovetop and use your zoom to provide the closeup of your food in the skillet. It's not a perfect solution but do-able.

The last image is good but, again, even though you have a direct light on the meat (see how the shadows fall), it's flat overall lighting. I'd recommend having the light at an angle off to the side or behind the plate. You can always use a white card/reflector to fill in the shadows if you find this sort of angle of lighting causes shadows that are too dark.

I am also curious to read that you did some post-processing on these images. Pictures 2 & 5 appear "hazy" to me. I processed them both through Photoshop and they improved a lot (though since #2 had flat lighting, there wasn't much I could do to help the picture). I can post them if you're interested in seeing them.

edited to add clarity

Edited by Toliver (log)

 

“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”

 

Tim Oliver

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Toliver, thanks so much. There is so much to learn here.

I switched off the lighting for pictures 1 and 2 because it was casting shadows -- which I had seen criticised in earlier posts on this thread. No shadows! But maybe it's worth having a small shadow if the picture is better lighted. I have different portable lights -- household lights, not photography lights -- incandescent, halogen, fluorescent. Any suggestions?

The overhead shots were a pain, since I had to stand on a chair to look through the viewfinder and press the shutter release. I had tried that angle after seeing some pictures in a glossy cookbook, where they used a lot of overhead shots. But now that I look at those photos again, I notice that they used fancy plates, tablecloths and other decorations to give the images depth.

I had a lot of trouble "cleaning up" photos 2 and 5 -- so yes, I'd much appreciate your posting what you were able to do in Photoshop and indicating what changes you made.

Once again, many thanks!

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Toliver, thanks so much.  There is so much to learn here.

Yes, and this is a great forum for learning. I hope it grows and continues to be a source of help for those seeking it.

I switched off the lighting for pictures 1 and 2 because it was casting shadows -- which I had seen criticised in earlier posts on this thread.  No shadows!

Regarding shadows, they aren't necessarily a bad thing. They are a natural part of what we see. I think, like beauty, it's all in the eye of the beholder. It also depends on your intent. Go back and look at the very first picture posted in this discussion. That picture is all about shading. It's the fact that the lighting is so directional that it reveals the texture on the egg which is what makes the photo interesting.

It's when the shadows become distracting that you have to worry. Is your plate casting a shadow? So what. They cast shadows in the real world. It's when the shadows compete with the subject of your photo (your intent) that you have to worry.

But maybe it's worth having a small shadow if the picture is better lighted.

Yes!

I have different portable lights -- household lights, not photography lights -- incandescent, halogen, fluorescent.  Any suggestions?

I am by no means an expert. Perhaps Ellen and the other photographers can answer the technical questions better. I think as long as you set your filter settings on your camera to match the type of lighting you're using you'll be off to a good start. Filter settings are important because the different lighting casts different-colored light. Fluorescent light has a blue tinge to it, incandescent light has an orange tinge to it, and so on. If you use the wrong filter, your photo can end up looking "off". Consult your manual.

The overhead shots were a pain, since I had to stand on a chair to look through the viewfinder and press the shutter release.

Which is why someone on eGullet...I can't remember who...puts their food on the floor to shoot it. :laugh: Whatever works for you!

I had tried that angle after seeing some pictures in a glossy cookbook, where they used a lot of overhead shots. But now that I look at those photos again, I notice that they used fancy plates, tablecloths and other decorations to give the images depth.

And don't forget they had a staff on hand to plate the food so it looked its best, they had someone to coordinate the plates, napkins, etc, they had someone who set up the best lighting and relfectors and scrims. They spend a lot of time setting up the photos to look their best since those types of photos are "forever" (ending up in cookbooks).

I had a lot of trouble "cleaning up" photos 2 and 5 -- so yes, I'd much appreciate your posting what you were able to do in Photoshop and indicating what changes you made.

Here's the picture number two, with a before and after. I used Photoshop's AutoColor & AutoContrast which over-saturated the steak. So I had to remove some of the red to make it look palatable. Because the lighting is so flat, even after processing you can see that it's sort of lifeless (the picture, not the meat :wink: ):

59793240.jpg

Picture #5: Again, I used AutoColor and AutoContrast. I tried AutoLevels which turned the plate blue. Yikes! I left the saturation as it was and then used the Unsharp Mask to sharpen the photo a little and make the highlights "pop". It ended up a little stark but looks much better.

59793234.jpg

I hope the feedback is helpful.

edited for clarity

Edited by Toliver (log)

 

“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”

 

Tim Oliver

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Well, that won't stop me from commenting. That is exceedingly cool. That is certainly a lovely photo and where you have hung it is right on.

You have me thinking about how to display some of my photos in the new house. I don't have a lot of walls but it would be kind of fun to print off some food photos and have a kind of changing display. I am thinking of those clip and glass frames that you can get at Pier One and Ikea. Whatcha think?

I think it's a great idea! My new photo is the first actual food photo I've hung. I want to do more, and Helena and all here have inspired me to improve my food photographing skills and try to get one of my own good enough. I like your idea of a changing display.

I have more wall space in this house than in any place I've lived. I am really enjoying chosing the wall hangings. Here's another one in another section of our kitchen, which is food related. It is the cover of the 03/15/1991 Wine Spectator which I had framed shortly after it came out. Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorite people of all time and I couldn't resist.

i9749.jpg

Please let us know what you decide about your photos in your new house!

Edited by Susan in FL (log)

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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First of all my apologies for being late in thanking Behemoth and Toliver for the comments and great advice on my posted photos. Thank you!

But now I really need help, can you possibly tell me why I'm getting these reactions to this photo?

From the Let's talk zongzi thread in the China and Chinese Cuisine forum:

But gosh, is that bottom picture provocative!

I absolutely concur. I never knew pictures of food could make me feel this way... but I think I need to take a cold shower now... 

Yetty has wonderful skills with the camera. 

i9678.jpg

Is there something subliminal there that I'm just not getting?

Yetty CintaS

I am spaghetttti

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Yetty, I reacted the way I did to your photo because I'm not a well person.  I've already called my therapist, so hopefully I'll get better soon.  :wacko:  :blush:

LOL, wongste, you're hilarious! I'm sick in bed right now, and you've made my head hurt even more. (Where's that Tylenol?) :wacko:

Seriously, what is it about that picture? I'm truly clueless.

Yetty

Yetty CintaS

I am spaghetttti

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When you're done looking at Gergia O'Keefe's flowers, take a gander at the photography of Minor White. Never did I think I could get horny looking at photographs of rocks but somehow he did it :blink:

I appreciate all the input on my latte pic and will try to incorporate the suggestions into my next attempt. Now for my next chance to be assessed. Here's a gelato shot from last week's trip to Seattle.

Unedited

i9772.jpg

The following is with a small bit of contrast/brightness adjustment, some burning in on the highlights of the gelato scoops and the newspaper and also use of the Unsharp Mask. I'm actually leaning towards the original being preferable - perhaps due to the rectangular composition. I left the newspaper in the shot based on comments about my latte art shot and it does seem to improve the composition but comments and suggestions for improvement will be greatly appreciated (by the way... of the three flavors in that cup, only the hazelnut was a standout)

Edited

i9773.jpg

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