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.
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!
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.
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)
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
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...
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!
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.
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
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!
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