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Food Shutter Bug Club (Part 1)


Behemoth
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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.

phaelon,

the second picture benefits from the contrast adjustments you made as you can see form the definition of the ice cream cup - i quite prefer that to the original. the composition however does not work for me. i've taken the liberty of cropping the image primarily to demonstrate to what degree you can change a picture, and how that impacts the entire work. the frame you chose is one of the most critical elements of a picture, where you can give focus, call on the viewer's imagination to fill the gaps and ensure every pixel fulfils a purpose.

the cropping in this picture is relatively commerical, however i think it illustrates my comments far better any words i could use.

i9809.jpg

here is a second version, again for illustrative purposes - in case you wanted the color of the cup. you'll see in your original picture you have too much space which detracts from what you want to communicate. if for example, more of the metal chair were in your original frame, there i could see using that in the final picture; in this case that doesn't work since you clearly framed three objects on the table.

i9813.jpg

hope any or all of this helps.

-che

Edited by CheGuevara (log)
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Che makes some good points about framing.

What's important in your picture? What isn't? And if it isn't important, why is it playing such a big part of your picture?

Lucy (bleudauvergne) said about the same thing back on page 2 of this thread and posted some pics to illustrate. Take a picture to tell a story and include just enough info in the pic to get your point across.

So let me ask you, Owen, why did you take that picture? What was the intent behind it? Was it to show the gelato? Then make the subject of your picture the gelato. Do a closeup (or even a Jason-like closeup) and get us to really start salivating.

Or was it more of a study..."Sunday afternoon in Seattle"? Then some judicious cropping, as Che showed, will tighten the focus of the image, leaving off the extraneuous table edge and ground at the top of the picture. The simple framing of the newspaper and the dessert says something..."Here's how I passed some time in Seattle."

As you take more pictures, your framing will get better and you'll develop a photographic eye. Practice, practice, practice...and it will happen.

 

“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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Here's a picture that I took yesterday--not food, but a kitchen. I was still using the old camera; I'm learning the new one, but slowly. In my mind, this picture is so evocative of what Mexico was and is. Does it work for anyone, and what needs to be done?

i9822.jpg

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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In my mind, this picture is so evocative of what Mexico was and is.  Does it work for anyone, and what needs to be done?

Nice picture! I like the rustic texture of the doorway. It adds a timeless quality to the overall ambience of the image. But it's also a problem in the photo.

It took me a while to notice there was someone back there in the kitchen which brings up a good point when it comes to photographs: What is lit is what will be noticed first. Photography is often like a magician doing a magic trick, directing the audience to see what you want them to see.

Stare at this picture and notice how your eye keeps wandering to either the very brightly lit stucco on the exterior framing of the doorway or to the white plastic chairs inside. Sure, you eventually begin to notice the rest of the details in the image but that's where your eyes go first.

Is it fixable? To an extent....you can post-process the photo, darkening the doorframe stucco and then brightening the kitchen interior to provide a better balance. Or you could do some judicous cropping, losing most of the stucco/door frame so it's not so "there". Here's what I did with some cropping (the photo has not been processed otherwise):

60006624.jpg

And this one is cropped plus processed (interior brightened and doorframe darkened):

60007458.jpg

Another thing you could have done was, at the time the photo was taken, come back to the same spot later in the day when the doorframe stucco wasn't so well lit. But that's not very realistic because often, as people passing through, we don't have the time to come back to re-take photos. Cropping the photo also lost the nice porch light but that's cropping for you.

As an aside, it would have been great if you could have gotten the woman to come to the doorway. It would have added another great dimension to the photo.

Thanks for posting your work!

 

“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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I agree with all of what you said, Toliver. There were things about the picture that I would love to have changed before I took the shot: I would have gotten rid of the plastic chairs in the foreground, I would have liked the elderly cook to have been nearer the door, I would have liked the interior to have more light, etc. Interesting that you perceived the doorframe as being a porch with a porch light. In fact, I was standing in another interior room of the house, with a small window behind me.

I could have used a chance to take a second shot, BUT:

One of the difficulties in taking this kind of picture in Mexico (and in lots of other places as well) is that many old people don't want to have their pictures taken at all. Some folks, like the woman in this kitchen, WON'T let you take their picture. She had been facing me, sorting through some freshly cut oregano that was lying on the table. When she saw that I had the camera pointed toward the kitchen, she turned away with her basket of oregano and slipped deeper into the kitchen interior. I actually felt a little sleazey that I took the picture anyway, realizing that she didn't want it done.

It's an ethical dilemma: a candid shot without permission or permission asked for and given for a shot that turns out to be less spontaneous and/or authentic. How does anyone else deal with this issue?

When I am more up to speed with Photoshop, I will fiddle around with this one some more. Thanks for your input.

Edited by esperanza (log)

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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...I was standing in another interior room of the house, with a small window behind me.

Ahhhh...that explains why the doorframe stucco was so bright. We're seeing it lit up by your flash and/or the light coming in from the windoew. It was so bright I assumed it was being lit by the sun/outdoor light.

This also illustrates a problem that can occur when shooting indoors with a flash. The flash over-lit the nearest object in your framing (the doorframe) and under-lit the farther away subject (the kitchen beyond and what was happening in it). This reminds me of indoor concert-goers who take pictures of the performer onstage with the flash on and end up getting great picutres of the people near them in the audience but not so great pictures of the performers.

Then cropping would be your best solution to the over-lit doorway. You still see enough of it to give it flavor and the viewer's focus will shift to what you intended in the first place...the kitchen.

It's an ethical dilemma: a candid shot without permission or permission asked for and given for a shot that turns out to be less spontaneous and/or authentic.  How does anyone else deal with this issue?

As for that question, I'd like to hear what others in this discussion have done or do. Negotiate? Or move on?

 

“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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Hmmm...no flash used here. I've learned something very important from this exchange: to include more information in the original post about how a photo was taken.

One thing that bothers me about this picture is that it isn't grounded. The bottom of the photo just sort of floats off into nowhere.

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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esperanza,

as a second opinion, i agree 100% with toliver's comments...i actually spent some time beforehand figuring out how you could draw attention to the interior, and the cropping helped a great deal.

the frank answer is the frame cost you the picture, as you floating comment alludes to. i for one like the contents of the picture, plastic chairs included, but you need to do something more untraditional if you can't zoom in - or as toliver said, if you want to retain the frame, as it adds another level to the picture. this feeling of peeking into the room, the windowed view, is much more attractive that a traditional shot.

as i'm writing i though of this....

i9871.jpg

had this been a widnow, with a frame at the bottom - it would have all come together for me. damn builders!

with respect to picture taking - i'm all for freedom of vision, so long as you're not noticed. if someone is aware you're taking picture, then yes, i ask. many photographers/artists have done great work by taking "hidden" pictures. the name escapes me now, but one had hidden cameras while in the NY subway.

-che

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with respect to picture taking - i'm all for freedom of vision, so long as you're not noticed. if someone is aware you're taking picture, then yes, i ask. many photographers/artists have done great work by taking "hidden" pictures. the name escapes me now, but one had hidden cameras while in the NY subway.

I've never been accused of being the most culturally sensitive person in the world - but I think it's lousy to take pictures of people - particularly in their own homes - without permission - just because you think you're not noticed. There are even certain cultures where people believe that by taking pictures of them - you steal their souls. IOW - I think people are entitled to privacy - even though they may be poor - and you may be a sneaky photographer. Robyn

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Speaking of macro, which we were a couple pages ago - i didn't take this photo, it was actually taken by photgrapher Brian Bohannon for our restaurant's review in the local weekly. However, i did make and garnish the brulee:

i10019.jpg

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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That is a serious monster strawberry and mint leaves! Looks like nice creme brulee, too. :biggrin:

I'll let others comment about the composition, unless you really press me.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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IOW - I think people are entitled to privacy - even though they may be poor - and you may be a sneaky photographer. Robyn

you may not agree with my opinion, however you should not be judgemental, and further dramatise your point by relating the nature of the picture - what seems to be a poor woman - to my beliefs and character.

i do agree people are entitled to their privacy - however it is somwhat a grey area, when you are not infringing on them, merely watching from a distance. voyeurism, or stalking for that matter, fall into this category yet the end is different, far les morally justifiable.

-che

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For some really strange reason, being that close to the sliced strawberry gives me the creeps. Technically, the picture is well done. I don't "get" the black background, though. It is sort of like a creme brulee in orbit or something. "Creme brulee in spaaaace", with Miss Piggy in hot pursuit, pops into my head.

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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  • 4 weeks later...
Why did this thread get so quiet?

I just got a camera!

Please tell me how I can be a cool kid with cool pictures, too.

I was hoping others would chime in here but since no one has responded...

Your plating is obviouly great...the food looks very good!

So that just leaves your composition and your lighting.

Although I like the redundancy in the photo (showing two plates of food...what I don't see clearly on one I can see on the other) I'd personally like to see more of just the plate in the foreground. By shifting the focus from both plates to just one plate, it also gives your photo a center of attention. It will go from being "A Study of Dinner for Two in the Library" (with the book in the background) to "Here's What I Made for Dinner Last Night", if that makes sense.

You are already shooting down from a slight angle. I'd suggest shifting up to a little higher angle so we get a better view of the food on the plate.

The focus of the the photo is soft. I'm guessing your camera has an auto-focus. Practice mastering your auto-focus. Most auto-focus cameras set the focus when the picture-taking button is depressed half-way (of course, consult your camera manual for exact operation instruction).

Suppose your were going to shoot a photo of two kids standing side by side. You'd set the composition so it looked balanced and snap the photo. But because your auto-focus sets its focus on what is in the center of the picture, the bush in the background that was dead-center in your picture between the two kids is in perfect focus and the two kids are blurry. What you need to do is move the camera until the center of focus is on one of the kids and depress the picture-taking button half-way to set the focus. While the button is still half-depressed, move the camera back over until both kids are centered and the composition is correct and then depress the picture-taking button all the way to snap the picture.

It sounds like a lot of trouble but with practice it will take mere nano-seconds for you to do this.

As for the lighting, if it's possible bring the lighting closer to your plate then do it. You have some good highlights in the beans and not much in the way of shadows. A little stronger light will help bring out the vividness of the colors and make us drool even more.

I am looking forward to seeing more of your cooking...I mean, photos! :laugh:

 

“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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I am planning to go to some good New York restaurants and I would like to take photographs inside the restaurants. Can anyone tell me what the overall reaction from restaurant staff might be? Overall, are NY restaurants unfriendly towards photography?

Edited by fiftydollars (log)
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Why did this thread get so quiet?

I just got a camera!

i11139.jpg

Please tell me how I can be a cool kid with cool pictures, too.

Eunny Jang, I think you're doing great. This is your first experience with photography, or just digital photography?

What kind of camera are you using?

I kind of liked that you did two plates: if it were me, I'd probably have gotten a little to the right and included all of that plate in front (detail) and cropped the plate in back off a little more. But the colors are good, and it does look appetizing.

-----

I haven't posted in here in a long time. Someone wrote to ask me what kind of experience I've been having with my new camera (the 8-megapixel Canon Powershot Pro1, purchased in June). To tell the truth, I have been having terrible challenges with my it, starting the day after it was too late to return it for an exchange. It has ADD (it can't focus, with great regularity). It also had some problems with the bracketed exposure, and I sent it to the shop when I'd had it only two weeks. Tomorrow it's going back to the shop, and I am demanding a new one. I've lost so many good shots, and it's affecting my confidence and my ability to do my job.

Then in the beginning of July, my G1 Powershot was stolen (or so I thought). I replaced it with the Canon Powershot A80, as I have to have that swing-out viewfinder for my work with the farm dinners. (I often need to shoot over the heads of people in front of me. This viewfinder allows me to see what I'm missing.) I don't like the A80 nearly as much as the G1, but it does have some great features. It's just that the G1 was my partner, and I didn't have to think to get the shots I wanted. I really missed it.

Anyway, the problems with the Pro1 really undermined my confidence, and I was feeling like a sham and a fraud. I've had to learn way too much jargon, and the buttons are complicated, and sometimes I just wanted to throw it (and me) in a lake. Since I learned that it's the camera's fault, and not mine, I feel a little better.

What made me feel a lot better was being hired by chef David Kinch at Manresa restaurant for photography and web site consultation. They saw the photos I had posted, loved them, and asked if I would do some work for them. Well, duh. The cherry on top is that my photographer friend, Nikki, (I posted her photos in the Manresa thread) is offering me some training in exchange for training her on her Macintosh. Once I get some more of the language down, experientially, I think I'll be more versatile and creative.

The footnote to this whole story is that, on Thursday, a chef I know called me and asked, "Did you lose a camera?" He'd found my camera at his restaurant, but couldn't read the phone number on my business card, which had gotten wet. Two of the digits in the middle were smeared. Finally he just started calling, and got me on the third try. So I have my G1 back, and I'm giving the A80 to Bob.

I'm looking forward to have a camera that focuses as it's supposed to. I love the camera, but haven't been happy to have a lemon. Yeah, I know, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Not this time. :smile:

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  • 4 weeks later...

eunny,

that chicken looks magnificent, and it's barley 7:20am over here. you've already received some good comments, and in the end a lot has to do with what you're trying to achieve with the picture.

personally i think the picture lacks contrast. notice the color of the table on the bottom left, the transparent plate doesn't help, and then the color of the mash and chicken on the top right. the egullet light blue background doesn't help either, however i still think contrast could eb improved allowing your picture to speak more, make more pornounced statements - if that makes sense.

-che

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  • 2 months later...

For anyone wrestling with the Auto-Focus issues of the Canon PowerShot Pro S1 camera, there is a new firmware update available that supposedly addresses this issue.

http://web.canon.jp/Imaging/pspro1/firmware-e.html

I performed the upgrade last night, and will give it a proper test tomorrow evening, when I'm photographing a Slow Food dinner for the chef.

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  • 1 month later...

OK folks . . . The fifi needs some help. I will be retiring in a couple of months and my company has a quite generous "grant" that you can apply to anything you might want to do after retirement. Think of it as a much more practical gift than a gold watch. :biggrin:

Years ago I was really into 35mm and got all technical and such. I have fooled with digital photography only enough to know what I don't know. I am now intent on wrestling digital photography into submission. My question has at least two parts.

The camera -- Without getting ridiculous, I can buy a high end camera. I am looking at the Nikon D70 SLR. Looking at camera specs has taught me one thing. I mostly don't know what they are talking about and the language is certainly not English to me. My main interests are macro and I would like to know more about low light capability. Obviously, this plays into photographing food, both for instructional purposes as well as reporting. I almost never need any fast action capability like for sports. My son gave me a magazine subscription to "Photo Life" and the first issue had a really good review of the D70, that is why I am considering it. Any opinions or experience out there?

The brain -- What is the best source for classes in the basics? I am thinking both the camera and post processing software. I have Photoshop Elements and really think that it has all of the capability that I will ever need. I don't plan to invest in the full blown Photoshop unless someone can come up with a good reason. I would really like to find a course for that.

Any help that you guys can provide is appreciated.

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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The camera -- Without getting ridiculous, I can buy a high end camera. I am looking at the Nikon D70 SLR. Looking at camera specs has taught me one thing. I mostly don't know what they are talking about and the language is certainly not English to me. My main interests are macro and I would like to know more about low light capability. Obviously, this plays into photographing food, both for instructional purposes as well as reporting. I almost never need any fast action capability like for sports. My son gave me a magazine subscription to "Photo Life" and the first issue had a really good review of the D70, that is why I am considering it. Any opinions or experience out there?

Until recently, I sold Canons, Nikons, and other brands until they went digital, and my career went elsewhere. But I am now in the market for a digital body, and Canon gets the nod for two reasons: I have a few Canon ultrasonic lenses, including an ultra-sharp macro. In addition, over the years I have found that Canon introduces new features sooner than Nikon, which is more of a 'tried and true', conservative company. Both are very good, and the ultimate test is how they feel, in your hands. Controls, menus, heft, ergonomics etc play a big part. I get annoyed when a digital camera doesn't respond quickly. Each is slightly different. A good return policy is important. A salesperson with a CPC (Certified Photgraphic Consultant, they write a lengthy test to get it) can be a big help, as well as a decent return policy.

Happy hunting!

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Thanks jayt90. I will definitely be giving Canon a look. Response time was one of the big pluses in the review of the Nikon. I, too, get annoyed with slow response. I want the camera to take a picture when I push the button, dammit. :biggrin: That tip about the CPC is particularly helpful. I didn't know such a thing existed. I also agree on the ergonomic part of your suggestion. I bought my current Sony Mavica for just that reason. These old paws are used to holding a 35mm SLR and the little digitals give me fits.

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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Fifi, sorry I didn't see this post until now. I have the Nikon D70 and I absolutely love it. It turns on instantly, it takes pictures instantly, and it can take as many photos in rapid sucession as you have room for on your flash card. I bought it in anticipation of several big upcoming family and travel events, and I must say it has more than justified its price in terms of the beautiful photos I've been able to take. It took me a while to explore what it could do, but a few hours with the manual (and I have a fairly short attention span) and I was able to figure most things out. But the nice thing is I feel it still gives me a lot of room to learn...you can have as much or as little control over the process as you want. It makes me look like a much better photographer than I probably am -- which is really a pleasure: I find myself taking it along to snap whatever catches my eye these days, not just "big family events" kinds of stuff.

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