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Photographing Dinner

Do you post photos on Chowhound, or maybe on a blog?
I'd love to hear and see some of your experiences. Not super pro stuff, just cooks who click.

What camera do you use? Do you use a lighting set-up or natural light? What has been useful, what has been problematic? Do you photograph all your steps, or just the final product? What issues have you found with uploads? What solutions have you found?

And finally, post some great photos! Post your unsuccessful ones and maybe we can troubleshoot together.

I am working with a Nikon point and shoot that is about 10 years old. I hope to upgrade soon (for various reasons, not just food pics). I use a workbench lamp clamped to my cookbook holder on the kitchen counter. Sometimes it works, other times, not so much. I also seem to lose some color value when I upload to Chowhound. Still working on it, still having fun.

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  1. So glad you started this thread, Nightshade! Point by point:

    - I also use a point and shoot. Canon PowerShot A590 IS, 4 or 5 years old, Aquarium and macro settings, to be exact. Those two settings seem to best reproduce what I see with the naked eye.

    I have access to the Man's fancycam, but am still debating over whether to use it for my blog pics because if there is any point of view to my blog, it's that I find particular satisfaction in making do, and I've somehow got it in my mind that using my point and shoot is better aligned with that philosophy. (Though people have made some very good points about why I should consider using the other cam.)

    - No particular lighting setup. However, as it gets later in the day, I will turn on the kitchen light, which is fluorescent, and the dining room light, which is incandescent, to balance out the blue from the fluorescent.

    - Sometimes problematic and other times a boon for me is ambient lighting because of the way our current kitchen is set up. Lots of natural light from the back. Sometimes it makes for a stark white background that provides lots of contrast. Other times, it washes out detail and color.

    - I photograph all or most of my steps and share those albums with friends on facebook who seem to like the sequential pics. Helps them when they're duplicating the recipes. (I love facebook albums for that reason, btw.)

    - No issue with uploads unless I have crap connection.

    - I also lose color when I upload here.

    The first two pics show how anemic/washed out the fluorescent light can appear as opposed to the third pic, which is balanced with the incandescent.

    I've got way too many crap pics to choose just one. :P

    Still have a LONG way to go in terms of composition and angling, particularly when it comes to multiple elements on a plate. Dead on from the top seems so one dimensional, but then some times it's the only way to show more than 2 elements.

    I'm not very food-style-ish. I care about presentation, but my own style is fairly casual, so I tend not to doll the food up too much and usually photograph it the way it lands on the plate, relying more on angling and distance to try to make it look appealing than on heavy manipulation.

    Almost forgot the steam. It's always handy when taking sequential shots to have a steam blower handy. The Man is very good about blowing steam. It's difficult to do it yourself from behind the camera. :P

    So much more to learn, so I'm looking forward to more responses!

    14 Replies
    1. re: inaplasticcup

      Ina, you are a great photographer if you get all those beautiful photos from a point and shoot AND just light from your kitchen and dining room! I get weird shadows or they just aren't bright enough.

      1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

        Thanks, Bombay. You're always so encouraging, and I'm flattered you like my pics because I find yours really pleasing to the eye and imagination.

        Care to share some of your tricks with us?

      2. re: inaplasticcup

        It's amazing what different lighting can do! What do you mean by a steam blower? I use my hubby as an asst sometimes too;o)

        1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

          LOL. When I take sequential pics of the cooking session for other share albums, I also photograph the actual cooking process (I rarely post those pics here), so steam rises to the lens from the cooking vessel and makes for foggy pictures. And no matter how I try to blow it away from behind the camera, I just can't seem to direct the air to the right place, hence the Steam Blowing Man.

          1. re: inaplasticcup

            Aaah, I know exactly what you are talking about! I've just blown with my mouth sometimes when I'm taking shots on the stove...lol I never thought of actually having something to do it with!

        2. re: inaplasticcup

          Didn't you say you were moving? Or was that someone else? If it was you, how will the light be in your new kitchen? I'm impressed that your photos are taken with ambient light.

          1. re: L.Nightshade

            I am moving, and I've yet to take food pics in the new kitchen. Am really curious as to how that's going to work. I'm really trying to maximize the point and shoot for now, just to see how much better I can get with it before I start having the Man take pics with his SLR.

            When I (self) publish my e-book, I will definitely have him take the pics if for the much finer resolution and richness of color (pics attached). But for now, I'm going to take the P&S as far as I can take it. (Not to mention the fact the Man would have a heart attack if I abused his camera the way I do mine, during the cooking process, with meat and flour and oil on my hands, no less. :P)

            1. re: inaplasticcup

              Those photos are with the fancy cam? The resolution is great. I also like the narrow depth of field. I can't get the background to go soft focus with my point and shoot.

              1. re: L.Nightshade

                Have you tried getting up real close using a macro setting?

                And yeah, those are the fancycam pics. :)

                1. re: inaplasticcup

                  I guess you are right, when I get very close there is some loss of focus in the background. Usually I don't hold the camera steady enough and lose all focus! Next camera gets a tripod.

                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                    Maybe you're forgetting to eat before you shoot! :P

                    I don't know if this will help, but sometimes, when my shooting hand (right) is shaky, I steady it at the wrist with my left.

                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                      I will try your steadying idea, thanks.

                      Well, of course I don't eat before I shoot. Everyone must wait for the photos to be taken, myself included!

          2. re: inaplasticcup

            Looking at your first photo id say your fluorescent bulb is probably matched close to daylight balance as far as color goes. You would be better off spending 5 $ and buying a daylight balanced incandescent bulb for your incandescent fixture. If you try to balance different color light sources against each other you will end up with pictures that have strange color casts either over the whole image or just in the shadow areas. Your first photo in the series is actually the closest to a marketable image instead of turning on that incandescent fixture which made the shadow area of the bun in the foreground orange, a small white or silver fill card would have filled the shadow and kept the over all color balance right. Your "corrected" third image actually looks way too orange both in the highlight and its super orange in the shadows that are being filled by your incandescent light that is way too warm. Digital cameras are much more accurate at reproducing color casts than film ever was. being consistent with the color of your light is super important with digital. Using one light source and cards is an easier way to go it kills the need to check to make sure that all the colors of the lights match each other. Also for around $10 pick up grey strip card for color balance. its a small card that has a scale of pure white to pure black. you can lay it in the frame on your first picture and remove it for the rest. when you get your images into your editing software balance the image with the grey card then apply the settings to the rest of the images from that shot. Its a simple cheap way to make sure your colors are accurate to the subject matter. ciao

            1. re: Valabar

              Thanks for your advice, Valabar. I'm in a new kitchen with very different light now, but at the very least, I'm sure I should replace the fluorescent bulb with incandescent. Luckily the natural light in my dining room is much easier to deal with than the previous, so I wait until the food makes it onto the table for my final shots. It's quite an education reading what you see with your professional eye...

          3. Ln, you are doing something right because your last set of photos of your spring rolls was beautiful! I think it's just about practice makes perfect. I've improved tons since I started blogging two monts ago:-)

            I've read up on how-to threads and studied others photos. You can get a grasp on composition just by going on Tastespotting and Foodgawker:-)

            Getting a lightbox helps too.

            I still have a ton to learn, baby steps!

            2 Replies
            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

              Yeah. I'll vouch for those spring roll pics. <drools...>

              1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                Thank you both! So very nice to hear. I am getting better, I think!

              2. i take more photos of beer than food, most of which are uploaded to Flickr. i use an old Nikon at home, and a point & click on oinking trips. even at home there's no fancy set-up and i try to keep it as simple as possible.

                looking forward to seeing (photos) and learning in this thread!

                btw, there's also another food photo thread but it has died.

                9 Replies
                1. re: Pata_Negra

                  Jealous of your oinking trips a little, PN. :)

                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                    it never crossed my mind to make photos of food until *after* i returned from a trip to Peru and Bolivia in 2003, which had nothing to do with food.

                  2. re: Pata_Negra

                    Would love to see some of your photos, Pata :o) Yum, Oinking trips!

                    1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                      i've recently been to Chile and now started to sort out the photos.

                      pic 1 @Ancud, Chile: an enormous shellfish dish called 'curanto'. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curanto


                      pic 2 @home: simple asparagus soup. fish is haddock loin.

                      1. re: Pata_Negra

                        Pata, your photos look beautiful! How were you able to get so much light on the first pic? Wasn't it taken at a restaurant?

                        Your 2nd one is so beautiful too! Nice composition and it looks so soft :o)

                        1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                          yes the first one was taken in a restaurant. this restaurant is extremely informal and the lighting is fluorescent.


                        2. re: Pata_Negra

                          Hard to believe that first photo is taken under fluorescent lamps. It looks like an outdoor shot. Very nice.

                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                            It really does. Nice observation, Nightshade.

                          2. re: Pata_Negra

                            I love the white tray effect, gorgeous...

                      2. I have taken some nice food photos late in the afternoon when the sunlight comes in through my kitchen window onto the counter. Use a Canon SX 100 but block the flash. Now all I have to do is find the photos on my old computer.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: escondido123

                          When you say you block the flash, do you mean it flashes, but you cover it with something? Your photos must be beautiful with the afternoon sun!

                          1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                            I just put my finger over the flash if it is a quick shot, or tape cardboard over it if I'm doing more. As you can see, the sun is quite bright--I would knock it back if printing--but I like the way it lets you see the grains of salt. I am sure there is a way to turn the flash off, but I haven't taken the time to read the manual. LOL

                            1. re: escondido123

                              I've heard of putting your finger or even a piece of kleenex over the flash...lol I see what you mean by the salt, it really pops out!

                              I'm like you, sometimes I just want to do things right away without reading a manual:o)

                              1. re: escondido123

                                I think it's neat how you've captured the time of day in that pic, escondido.

                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                  Thanks. I've been posting pics of produce sometimes to encourage people to go to the Farmers' Market. I've also taken some when I was there but can't seem to find them.

                          2. These are my progression of my photo skills...

                            I'm going to post all my photos here and hope the explanations make sense :o)

                            I started posting on FB first then started my blog just over 2 months ago.

                            Giant Roast Chicken..taken with point & shoot Leica on 11/18/09, no flash
                            I really thought this was good at the time..lol Now I look at it and think, omg, what
                            was I thinking!

                            Pasta...taken w/Leica again, no flash on kitchen counter w/kitchen lights. After I starting blogging, 4/21/11
                            I thought for sure that Tastespotting & Foodgawker would accept it...lol Now I see it
                            was too dark and the white balance is off

                            Sliced Steak...taken w/Nikon D300s w/Nikor 60 mm lens. This is the camera and lens I normally use now. Poor Leica feels neglected;o) This was taken late afternoon by a window, no flash. 4/25/11
                            My first photo that was accepted by both TS & FG! I found that they like very bright & light
                            photos w/white plates and Bokeh (gradual blurring)

                            Roast Chicken...Taken w/Nikon on kitchen counter on top of white paper w/lights shining on it on both sides, no flash 6/5/11
                            Accepted on FG, but rejected by Tastespotting for composition!

                            Pesto...Taken w/Nikon inside of a light box w/lights shining on it from both sides. 6/19/11
                            Both FG & TS accepted this one :o) Tastespotting really likes the props!

                            So, see, I learned a lot in a short time and I still have a lot to learn:o) I really don't have the time to use a ton of props like some people with all the different colored napkins and layered plates. I make the meal and then that's our dinner! Sometimes I do make 2 sets of food, one to shoot early (then that's my lunch the next day) and the other that we can eat hot. It depends on the food. Obviously, I'm not making 2 roast chickens!

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                              That's awesome. I love how you took us through the progression. I can definitely see why 4 and 5 were selected for TS & FG.

                              I'm finding that flash is very rarely a good thing for food pics. What do you think?

                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                I keep reading don't use flash, but I guess it has it's place. I was talking to a camera store guy that takes food photos as a living and he says he always uses flash...well strobe lights and stuff;o) Or do like escondido and cover the flash for a different affect and they also have those covers for them too. See, so much to learn...lol

                                1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                  As a rule, don't use the camera's flash. You do want to use a flash that attaches to the camera, that can be directed to bounce off surfaces. Strobes also.

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    Monavano, I guess using point and shoot and dslr makes a difference in what type of flash to use, right?

                                    1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                      Point and shoots can do a very good job. As stated above, cover the flash with tissue if you must use a flash.

                                      1. re: monavano

                                        Most point and shoots these days have a feature that disables the flash if you like, luckily. Since I never use flash, it's a godsend. :)

                                    2. re: monavano

                                      Monavano, can you give me some pointers on my photos, up thread. Obviously not the first 3, I know my mistakes on those...

                                      1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                        Use something to bounce the light to fill in shadow.
                                        Use white light or adjust the color with a computer program.
                                        The last photo with the noodles has great composition!
                                        Does your camera have a macro mode? If so, use it for close ups.

                                        1. re: monavano

                                          Thanks Monavano :o) Are you a photographer?

                              2. OP, google "how to make a lightbox". It's simple and cheap, and will diffuse that harsh light that's washing out your food.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: monavano

                                  I'm gonna research that. Thanks, monavano.

                                2. One aspect no one has mentioned yet; vary your shot angles.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: scoopG

                                    Oh yeah. I really need to work on that especially when I have multiple elements on a plate.

                                  2. Great thread. I just love looking at everybody's beautiful pictures!

                                    In the beginning, I took photos just to post on the Chowhound Home Cooking board a few years back using a point-and-shoot Canon Elph I bought in 2000. That died this year so I've been using my husband's Canon EOS Rebel. I also post on Facebook and Twitter. For me it's a way to 'document' what I cook since I'm always trying something new and I forget something I made that we both loved.

                                    My husband's so used to me taking pictures now before we eat, but I still try to take them quick so the food is hot. I use one of the dial settings on the camera - flash on or off, or the close-up setting, all with autofocus. No light set-up. If it's day, I put the dish on the kitchen table by the window. If it's night, it's on the counter underneath one of the under-cabinet lights.


                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Rubee

                                      Rubee, my hubby is very patient too about me taking photos before we eat too;o) I try to serve him hot as best I can!

                                      I love your site...I'm going to peruse it later :o)

                                      1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                        Sounds like we've all got patient SOs. :)

                                        Always enjoy your pics, Rubee. Thanks for sharing them.

                                      2. re: Rubee

                                        Rubee when I first discovered Chowhound last fall it was your beautiful pictures that inspired me to add photos of the dishes I've made. I found that your photos added so much context to your posts and really enhanced my Chowhound experience.

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          Thank you! That's so nice to say. And I should give a shout-out to the Chowhound who inspired ME many years ago - Carb Lover. I miss her posts.

                                          1. re: Rubee

                                            I never knew carblover but based on her name, I can only imagine I'd have enjoyed her posts as well Rubee. I meant that btw, you photos are terrific.

                                      3. use sunlight. don't use non-colorbalanced lights (gonna look icky, if your indoor is yellow. ugg. how do people cook under that??)

                                        1. I was also told to always use a tripod, but I don't have the time or patience for that;o)

                                          As long as I haven't had a couple of cocktails, my hands are pretty steady...lol

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                            Using a tripod, Forces you to slow down. It gives you the opportunity to really compose the image with minute adjustments. its sort of mandatory if your serious about controlling what is in the frame. Its not about having steady hands its about being able to make minute adjustments so the image appears exactly the way you want it. If you dont have one it should be at the top of your to buy list. Also using a tripod allows you to shoot at the optimal low iso your camera chip is actually designed to shoot at to produce the cleanest image. Use a tripod, get married to the concept. its important.

                                          2. I have had tremendous results at home by putting the loaf, or plate in my white enamel bath.

                                            It gives an infinity look, as there is no perceivable background.

                                            An empty, clean bath...

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Naguere

                                              I like how to clarified that it was both empty AND clean, Naguere. :)

                                              Never tried it, but curious to try it now...

                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                too limiting. youll most likely not be able to place your camera where you want it. and your lighting is limited. you can get the same infinity cove effect with a white table cloth clamped to a pole suspended behind a table and hanging down with a gentle curve to a table top. Its a stupid easy setup and it allows you to work with a camera on a tripod and room to place any lighting you want.

                                            2. I've been posting photos here and just started a cooking blog a few months ago. I am a complete novice at taking pictures, but not at cooking (forty years, lol). I have a cannon power shot and just started snapping pictures of food after ogling for a couple of years on Foodgawker and Tastespotting. I gleaned some ideas and just snapped away, moving each shot slightly. Moving in and moving back. I may take 30 shots and love only one or two, lol! But it's fun and I get to leave my kids my blog for them to have, if they want one of my recipes (or adapted ones at least).

                                              Also, I have a window seat in my kitchen and shoot a lot of photos right there. I love the natural light that filters through. And I love getting good shots, close up. :)

                                              Today I am experimenting with indoor light, making a Blackberry Buttermilk Cake. Here's a couple of shots of Bill Granger's Carmel Chicken I took recently.

                                              Oh, and it's just a fun hobby. Both cooking and photography. I give lots of food away, lol!

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: mcel215

                                                Such lovely shots mcel, I really enjoy your posts as well!

                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  Thank you BC, I enjoy yours too. :)

                                                2. re: mcel215

                                                  Nice shots. I like how you can see the glisten of the glaze. And every individual grain of rice is visible. Do you use a different lens for this kind of closeup, or a macro setting?

                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                    No, I sponed the glazed right before I shot, lol! It's just sitting in my window and shooting very, very close.

                                                    I am a total novice and don't know zilch about macros. Just lucky I guess.

                                                    But, I take a lot of shots, turning the picture and moving myself around each plate I set. But I do go onto Pioneer Woman's site, under photography and Miss Booshey gives great advice.

                                                    Thanks. BTW, I love your backsplash.... :)

                                                  2. re: mcel215

                                                    Like the definition and composition of that second pic a lot, mcel. Nice work!

                                                  3. I had to google light box, what an interesting idea. There may be one in my future.

                                                    I did do a few photos with flash, by accident when I first started. There is not a lot of natural light in my house. Flash works so-so when the subject is several dishes spread out on a table (see the Bombay Chicken dish below), but is terrible for one-dish shots. I quickly went to using overhead light in my kitchen, which lends a somewhat yellow cast to the food (see the sardine rillettes in martini glasses). Low light works OK when I can steady the camera on something low and take a close up (see the bacon-topped spinach meatloaf). My favorite photo so far was taken the first time I used the work lamp. It kind of goes against the rules, low light from the side, busy plates, several objects, but I like it (see the Moroccan tagine shot below).

                                                    My next goal is probably getting some white plates. All my plates are very busy (you can see an example in the photo of fish sausages with two sauces). However, I am sometimes satisfied with the results when I use solid color plates (as seen in the roasted squash with herbs and dipping sauce). My pasta bowls are all shades of yellow to soft orange, and I will never again try to shoot something in a yellow bowl, every shot looks sickly.

                                                    I've made some progress in the few months I've been shooting food, plan to keep making more and learning from all of you!

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                      I agree with you about the white plates (we touched on this in the WFD thread). But it's nice to see really decorative ware, too. I guess it's a matter of pairing the right food with the right plate. (I love the dishes in pic #4.)

                                                      I really like the closeup on the meatloaf and how you played with the light and shadows on #6.

                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                        Your plates are fine. the way you are presenting your plates is whats disturbing you. 1. you use alot of dark surfaces for your shots underneath your plates. dark on dark will emphasize pattern, tone etc. 2. you are lighting everything from the top straight down onto the plate and you are exposing your pictures for the highlight areas and letting the shadow areas go dark. Instead of buying new plates and expensive gear. try this. take your plate outside cover the top with black card. about 18 inches above the plate. now take a picture and make an exposure so the darkest part of the plate appears to look like its a normal exposure. And yes before you ask. I am a pro food photographer. presentation of the food is always of extreme importance.The fourth photo is quite wonderfull. the others could use some work. The fowl is an example of too many things going on and bad lighting. front lit means no depth it flattens everything. avoid it like the plague. Goblets are really hard to shoot food in. they really are hard to make interesting unless they are transparent and the food actually comes above the rim. otherwise you are painted into a corner with what you can do with them. The meatloaf shot is a bit strange you don't get the sense its meatloaf it just look like seared meat with herbs on it. the Sushi looks odd too. you lose the sense of depth because it is front lit and also because the camera angle is high, The roasted squash and dip could be simplified. One squash splattered just right with dip might have been much more effective.. Sadly refining the ideas is something you can do only if your not in a hurry to get the meal down. Enjoy. keep it up, making pictures is fun. And dont give up on those yellow dishes. If you shoot high key they will go a lovely pastel that will really compliment alot of food. Ciao

                                                        1. re: Valabar

                                                          Wow, thank you for taking the time to do a pro critique of my photos.
                                                          You speak about adjusting the exposure, but I don't think I can do that with my point and shoot camera. This is one reason I'm looking to upgrade cameras.
                                                          You make good points about lighting. The first photo, with the chicken, I took before I knew to suppress the flash, and posted as an example of how flash doesn't seem to work very well for food.
                                                          Good point about the dark backgrounds. My counters and placemats are all dark, and that is what I've been using. I'll have to figure out a way to do a light background. I like that you didn't completely dismiss my painted plates, but offered an idea to work with them.
                                                          I really appreciate your suggestions and I'll continue to work on the photos. You are correct that only a certain amount of refinement is possible when the diners are waiting to eat!

                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                            alot of cameras have what is called an exposure compensation button. if your camera has one you can make adjustments with it to affect the automatic exposure of your camera. -2 will make the image darker. +2 will make the image brighter. If you have a canon or nikon its a button that has +/- labeled on it.

                                                            1. re: Valabar

                                                              How wonderful to have someone so knowledgeable posting here Valabar, your tips are terrific. Thank-you!

                                                              1. re: Valabar

                                                                I'll be darned! There are indeed little tiny plus and minus signs with arrows! I'll have to play around with that. Thanks so much, Valabar!

                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                  A few more easy tips. You can buy black white foam core from any decent art supply shop. Small pieces of black and white foam core and 2 inch A clamps are really your other best friend in food photography, You would really be surprised by how much photography in magazines is just daylight manipulated slightly with black and white cards. Ultimately plates are more often than not reflective. The way reflective surfaces are best controlled in photography is with white and black cards. Anyway, the easiest way to get a light surface is fabric. Table cloths and other light textured fabrics are an easy fix for your dark background woes. Garage sales are a treasure trove for the aspiring food photographer Just keep an eye out for interesting stuff. Antique fabrics are usually better made and more interesting than newer ones, plates and glasses with interesting shapes can be picked up dirt cheap. Photography can be a really lazy art form, what seperates the pros who make money from the amateurs is that the pros take responsibility for everything in the frame. Before you continue I highly recommend you spend half an hour in the library. Find a book on art instruction and re read the few pages on composition in the rectangular frame. Thinking of your subject matter in the context of line and form will probably evolve your work. Have fun with it.

                                                                  1. re: Valabar

                                                                    These are wonderful ideas. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing.

                                                                    I'm heading off on vacation tomorrow, I think I'll hit a few second hand stores while I'm away!

                                                                    It would be great to see some of your work. If you are a pro, I realize there might be copyright issues for you posting shots here, but if you can point me towards your work, I'd love it.

                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                      Lol I worked for Burke/ Triolo Foodpix for a few years everything was wrapped up under the foodpix logo. And Victoria Pearson for about 7 years. nothing but advertising. Martha stewart Living. And lots of food and wine and travel work. My own photography went in different directions but im coming back to food again. My obnoxiously large family is strong arming me into making a cookbook of my mothers recipes. Ill post some pics from that in the future for you to peruse.

                                                                      1. re: Valabar

                                                                        Been reading this discussion with great interest. Thanks for sharing your tricks of the trade, Valabar. Look forward to your cookbook pics. :)

                                                        2. I do not, though I will post images of the exterior, or the interiors, depending on the timing, and the setting.

                                                          When I am dining, I would not want to drag out my cameras, my lights, and intrude on either my dining partner's meal, or that of other diners.

                                                          When I am hired to do food photography (not always, as I am NOT a "food photographer"), it's for a resort's brochure, or advertising. I light each dish, and have a food stylist work on the dish, before I shoot it. While I am dining, that is not going to happen.

                                                          To do flash-on camera, point-n-shoot, is just not my style.

                                                          Still, I have seen some appetizing, and very good shots, but if I cannot light it, and have the stylist work on it, I will not shoot it.


                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            Hunt, we are talking about taking food photos of the food we made ourselves, not at restaurants :o) I guess the title should have said that ;o)

                                                            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                                              Uh oh! I missed that aspect.

                                                              Then, I recommend a broad, soft overhead main light, some fill around the front, and skimming key lights for the dishes. I have shot such with 4 x 5 film, 2.25 x 2.25cm, 35mm and digital, and with a bit of care, the dishes come out quite nice.

                                                              For the fills, I have used aluminum foil, glued to Foamcore, mirrors and reflective flags from my Lowell kit.

                                                              The idea is to illuminate the overall scene, fill any shadows (the softness of the overhead should not cast too many dense shadows), and then separate the elements, or dishes with some back, or side light.

                                                              Depending on whether one is using hot-lights (tungsten), or strobes (most often with food, as it often does not do well under hot-lights), getting a good White Balance can be critical. Get it right at capture, rather than in post production with Photoshop.

                                                              A little bit of egg-wash can go a very long way, to getting a glisten on the food, though one might well not use that on the dish served.

                                                              Having a flat-field macro lens can be very helpful. For 35mm, or full-frame (DX) digital, I like the Nikkor 105 Macro, to give me a bit of working distance, though for wider shots, I use my Nikkor 55mm Macro quite a bit too.

                                                              I apologize for missing the theme here, and assumed, incorrectly, that it was for shooting food in a restaurant. Mea culpa, mea culpa, and thank you for kindly pointing that out to me.


                                                          2. Glad we are only talking about photography at home, the idea of being in a restaurant while other people are photographing their meal makes me shudder. And I thought a noisy table was a problem!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: escondido123

                                                              I posted a link to an interview by the creators of Chewsy.com here
                                                              and in the interview one guy says many restaurants now not only have a policy that guests should not take flash photography, but that patrons not take any photos, because without proper lighting the camera in their phone is not going to make the dish look good.

                                                              Seems like an opportunity for food photographers to sell their services to restauraneurs for online posting of photos of their popular dishes for reference by iphone posters.

                                                            2. Ok, now here's a chance to put your food photography skills to the test. I just rec'd an email about this food photography contest for US residents:


                                                              Happy snapping!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                "US residents," that's a pity with the great photos you're posting here! Do you want to rent a room in my house and become a temporary US resident?

                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                  Thanks LN, I hope you enter yours . . . I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!