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Thread: Food Photography

  1. #1

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    Food Photography

    Im after some help here,

    Ive been asked to help a friend out by taking some photos of the food at her cafe/restaraunt for their website.

    it will be at night. I have a D7000 with a tamron 18-270 which is not great in low light.
    what pointers do you have to help. I would assume a high ISO Shoot in RAW, i do not have a tripod but think this could be the reason for me to finally get one?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Food Photography

    Hi Tom,

    When you say at night do you mean using incandescent bulbs or candlelight or is this a patio shot? What is the largest aperture on the lenses you have? If you can find a 50mm f/1.8 lens this would help but you might be able to get by with a lens with f/3.5 aperture depending on the light source. You'll definitely need a tripod.

  3. #3

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    Re: Food Photography

    Hi John,

    It will be indoors so only indoor lighting. and it is tomorrow so i wont be able to get a hold of a prime, the max aperture is 3.5

    Cheers

  4. #4
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Food Photography

    Rent a prime 85mm f/1.8 lens! If they will post it on their website as advertising material it would be best to maximize your chance of getting the best shot. Of course it will benefit them a lot so I would convince them about paying for the lens rental (and probably for your service!). Since the subjects are static I'd say go for a low ISO for the lowest noise possible from your camera. An off camera flash can help you get more artistic with your shots. A tripod is definitely a must. You need to nail the white balance right if possible for impact specially with meat shots. Good luck. This really sounds very exciting!

  5. #5

    Re: Food Photography

    Oh, gee....getting food to look good under unnatural lighting is hard. Candles help with the mood and atmosphere of a general table shot but... oh, dear...go during the day! Oh, okay, so maybe, you can't - you need some soft light to help you out, maybe! reflectors - soft box - I don't know but you will need to help the lighting out! Watch your white balance. Also, shallow dof is very good! Also, Jiro knows what he's talking about but - there usually isn't enough room to back out, when you're indoors, with 85mm. You can, also, get more light into your lens if you're at a wider angle. I don't know, maybe, something I'm saying will go into the back pot to simmer and will help. Hmmmm, restaurant at night - go for the ambiance and mood and bokeh the lights! Have fun!

  6. #6

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    Re: Food Photography

    Thank you all so far,

    Unfortunatly the closest lens rental place is about a 2 hr drive away so do not have time to get a prime.
    I also do not have access to any extra lighting at such short notice nor any experience.

    I feel this may not go so well but i will try with what i have.

    Cheers

  7. #7

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    Re: Food Photography

    Also have the option of shooting in the kitchen which will be well lit, but then would the type of lighting be too harsh?

  8. #8

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    Re: Food Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuck View Post
    Also have the option of shooting in the kitchen which will be well lit, but then would the type of lighting be too harsh?
    Hi Tom,

    In all honesty, from what you've described, I think the harshness of the light is going to be the very least of your problems.

    In an ideal situation I'd be using a camera mounted on a tripod, and a large soft-box to diffuse the light -- failing that, a tripod to steady the camera for what is probably going to be a fairly low shutterspeed (keeping in mind that you'll need a very small aperture to get a good depth of field) (and if it's still insufficient depth of field, back the camera off a bit).

    Be sure to include a grey card in a reference shot so that you can whitebalance the colour temperature afterwards -- and you'll possibly find that a silver / white reflector may help provide some fill to lighten the shadows.

  9. #9

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    Re: Food Photography

    Here's a link to a few tips on food photography: http://www.digital-photography-schoo...n-introduction FWIW

  10. #10

    Re: Food Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by tclune View Post
    Here's a link to a few tips on food photography: http://www.digital-photography-schoo...n-introduction FWIW
    Tom, that link is great!

    Hey, Tom (Tuck, Tom, I mean), I just googled "restaurant photos" and clicked on "images" and came up with a billion inspirational ideas in the images (literally.) Even if you spend five minutes browsing - you might have an idea or two to try when you go in. Photography is photography. It's about dealing with light and composition. what you include in the frame and what leave out. Even if you just practice the rule of thirds - you're a step up on the game. Then, just have fun and observe what you think is "cool" and have a go at it. Everything takes time - we're not the absolutely greatest fantastic photographer in the universe overnight. It may take a week or two, you know? We can have fun on the way and we learn from our mistakes and our successes. I would embrace the opportunity (and any chance you have at borrowing a tripod - which, if you're not use to, you will love and hate.) The advantage of a tripod is that you can cope with the light and, also, you can take time to see what's in your frame. Then, just look at the light and expose for it. Good luck!

    Of course, Colin is right. I just hear your panic....and, er, can relate!
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 18th August 2011 at 03:05 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Food Photography

    Believe it or not, much food shot for advertising purposes is never meant to be consumed. It is prepared only for the shot. One example of this is using brown liquid shoe polish to simulate the grill marks on steaks. Makes a great subject but, you have to throw the steak away after using it for the image. Another example of non-eatible food as a photo subject is the use of canned shaving cream instead of whipped cream on deserts. It photographs better and holds up longer but, I pity the poor person who makes a mistake and tastes that delicious looking desert.

    Best of luck on your photo shoot. Here are some links on food photography that I have accumulated over the years.

    Food Photography

    O’Reilly Digital Media
    http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/orei...od_photos.html

    Silverace Photogrnic Food Photography
    http://www.silverace.com/photogenic/...otography.html

    Photo Photography book by Cindy McGill
    http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_1...ink/fo1216.htm

    Making Food Look Good
    http://www.media-awareness.ca/englis...nderForPrint=1

    Professional Photography 101
    http://www.professionalphotography10...graphFood.html

    Michael Ray – Food Photographer
    http://www.foodportfolio.com/

    By the way, the same procedure in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements that allows you to adjust the perspective in an image to prevent buildings from leaning back (keystoning) will help prevent distortion in the plates on a dinner table. This can often help make an image look more natural.

    select all
    edit - transform
    perspective
    grab one of the corners and adjust the perspective by pulling it out or pushing it in (whatever works)
    crop the image to get a rectangle

    A tripod (even a el-cheapo from Walmart) would really help your shooting. That way you could stop down for better depth of field and your image would not suffer from camera shake due to a slow shutter speed.

    I would be very careful using it because it can get quite hot and I would only use it to bounce light off the ceiling but. a twelve dollar work light from a home improvement store could increase the overall lighting to a more usable level. Just don't get near it and certainly don't have it close to the food.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 19th August 2011 at 12:27 AM.

  12. #12
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    Re: Food Photography

    Tuck,

    You have a hard task ahead. Not insurmountable however. If you could shoot during the day using ambient light that would make life a lot easier. Whatever light you use (natural or not) maker sure you diffuse it somehow. With your slow lens and not having a tripod is a real problem. If you could rest your camera and use the timer that would make it possible to stop down for more depth of filed. If that is not possible you may have to take several shots with the same exposure but focussed on different parts of the subject so you can later Focus Stack your shots in photoshot to get all in focus. Its probably time to buy a decent tripod. You are not going to win any wars if you dont have the right ammunition. Remember, it will be a learning experience- part of that learning curve. Let us know how you go. Good luck.

    Nasseem

  13. #13
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Food Photography

    I've also heard of drizzling the food in olive oil to make it look glossy and more appetising.

    Take the advice of people on here and do this properly, even if it means postponing the shoot a day or two. This is a good opportunity for you.

  14. #14
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Food Photography

    I don't wish to be the one who puts the blanket over the flame and kills all the enthusiasm, but this sounds a bit like the second cousin asking you to do the wedding shoot, "Because you have one of those fancy cameras and know something about taking photos".

    Your friend will have been looking at other websites and will have expectations of the quality of work you will produce for them. And, with all respect, from where you are right now in terms of the resources available, you're not going to be able to do that.

    This is indeed a great opportunity, but maybe the first thing you have to do is take your friend back to reality by telling her that good photography is not just about turning up with a camera and pointing it at a subject. In the same way that she doesn't throw a whole lot of ingredients in an oven and somethign wonderful comes out, then so too, you have to have the ingredients (tools, resources) to be able to produce a high quality product.

    Otherwise everyone is going to be disappointed.

  15. #15
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Food Photography

    I don't wish to be the one who puts the blanket over the flame and kills all the enthusiasm, but this sounds a bit like the second cousin asking you to do the wedding shoot, "Because you have one of those fancy cameras and know something about taking photos".

    Your friend will have been looking at other websites and will have expectations of the quality of work you will produce for them. And, with all respect, from where you are right now in terms of the resources available, you're not going to be able to do that.

    This is indeed a great opportunity, but maybe the first thing you have to do is take your friend back to reality by telling her that good photography is not just about turning up with a camera and pointing it at a subject. In the same way that she doesn't throw a whole lot of ingredients in an oven and something wonderful comes out, then so too, you have to have the ingredients (tools, resources) to be able make the conditions that will produce a high quality product.

    Otherwise everyone is going to be disappointed.
    Last edited by Donald; 18th August 2011 at 09:11 AM.

  16. #16

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    Re: Food Photography

    Hi Tuck

    I am not quite understanding your problem. There are at least 2 good sources of photography accessories in Hamilton not far from you, which stock many tripods. The tripod surely is non-negotiable, it's a must. The Auckland source of rental lenses would have couriered an appropriate lens surely? At least that's what I understand from their website. I think I spoke to them a couple of years ago about rentals. (cameras though). While I was a student in Tauranga, I did some food photos in a restaurant. Luckily it was daytime & they let me drag the table over to the (curtained) window, which gave a nice soft light. I managed to get the lettuce leaf backlit, which was OK. The restauranteur & his wife were so pleased with the shots that they sent them to the wife's brother, also a restauranteur, in France. I have to admit that the images were OK but not glamorous, at any rate I got a good pass mark.
    Have fun
    Cheers
    Nihia

  17. #17

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    Re: Food Photography

    A great thread. Best of luck, Tom.
    I am sure you must have made your mind to buy a tripod.

  18. #18

    Re: Food Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Katy...

    Believe it or not, much food shot for advertising purposes is never meant to be consumed. It is prepared only for the shot. One example of this is using brown liquid shoe polish to simulate the grill marks on steaks. Makes a great subject but, you have to throw the steak away after using it for the image. Another example of non-eatible food as a photo subject is the use of canned shaving cream instead of whipped cream on deserts. It photographs better and holds up longer but, I pity the poor person who makes a mistake and tastes that delicious looking desert.
    Hi, Richard! I've heard you say this before. I am daring to think that some photographers don't do that. For example:

    http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/

    I do not know... I do not know for sure if she uses these techniques - I've been wondering and considering, since I saw you mention these tips, last winter/spring. Somehow, though, I think that it would be an insult to even ask her (she's very healthy and organic!!!)

    Anyway, I'm not against your advice - I'm still just considering it all.

    The only thing is, Tuck, we're off running with this discussion, as per usual. I hope it won't overwhelm you! Donald's advice is so good. Bring a sense of reality and see what comes from it. If it's a burger joint - go for the bright and cheery gloss - if it's a finer bistro - go for sparkling candles and shimmering wine glasses. (Wait! I think I've said that, already.)

    One other thing to note, food photography and interior photography take a lot of "staging". In the fancy, glossy, perfect photos, there was a lot of time getting all of that right. Composition is just as important, in this case, as a landscape - it's really, exactly the same - leading lines, triangles, rule of thirds. Usually, for fancy situations, these things are shot with a stylist! When I attempt it, myself, I do a lot of running around - back and forth between the camera. If someone can be spared to help tweak a chair or a glass or a fork - that would be heaven. If not, I think that you should set your sights more on the candid end of things. I really think that, with the right expectations, being prepared for anything, you can have a little bit of fun. I'm sure that more people will come along and help us cover 'all of the bases'. (I mean - oi! You'd think you were getting married, tonight! 'Remember to kiss your wife every day for the rest of your life and take out the trash - it will make you marriage run smoothly!)

  19. #19

    Re: Food Photography

    Oh, and don't trip the waiter!

  20. #20

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    Re: Food Photography

    Wow so many thoughts, thanks all for your advice.
    i am getting a tripod today on my lunch break.
    this pretty much is as Donald suspects, im helping them out and they are helping me out with an oppertunity to shoot. ive told them to not expect pro level shots and have linked my partner to this thread so she understands aswell.

    Nihia are you saying there are places in Hamilton that rent out lenses? or just the normal shops to purchase?

    This will definatly be a learning experience,

    Thanks all

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