Digital Photo Academy

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Food Photography Tips

Accessorize your Desserts

© Michael Hart Don′t forget to accessorize your desserts!  Pick a complimentary color to the chocolate or a hue that′s consistent with the icing and surround the dessert with items accordingly.  In this case Houston DPA instructor Michael hart chose rose petals and laid them out in a circular fashion to bring the viewer′s line of focus back to the main event while simultaneously repeating the circular patterns.  Or you can choose to keep it simple with a placemat. © Michael Hart

Accessorizing your Food on Site

©Michael Hart Shiny silverware and a flower arrangement can help to make any dessert item fit for a magazine cover. This tiramisu is even more eye catching thanks to its border of strawberries and the color of the pudding itself is enhanced against the table cloth of a similar shade.  The birds eye view makes you want to dive right in! ©Michael Hart ©Michael Hart

Create a Scene with Your Food Photographs

© Michael Hart Birds eye view works for desserts but an image that employs depth of field can be effective too!  Create an impressionistic sensibility of the denouement of an unforgettable feast by posing the main dish in the foreground and variations of the theme, platters vases decanters and the likes in the background.

Experimenting is Key

-Vary the angle of the camera, shoot from over head and at plate level. -Vary the angle of the plate too. I buy toilet shimms from the hardware store and use them to tilt the plate into the camera - watch out for movement in sauces though! -Play with how wide and tight your shot is, some times getting a little room atmosphere goes a long way to making the image more dramatic. -Use a lensbaby lens to give that great creative bur to you food images. I use a Lensbaby Super G (now called the Control Freak ) for many of my food shooting assignments because I can dial in the sweet spot of focus, lock it in place and fire away. -Tryout your widest angle lens too. I often use a 16mm fisheye because the minimum focal distance is very close and the plate and food in the foreground looks huge!

Help with Apertures

© Kathy Tarantola The three tiered non-traditional wedding cake was decorated for a California style beach wedding, and I loved the way it was decorated. Even at f4 I had enough depth of field to keep the cake layers in focus, but soften the background enough not to distract the subject. The slight overexposure of the back light creates a bit of flare to give the impression of skylight, even though the reception was indoors - in a dark paneled room! © Kathy Tarantola This beautiful plate of fruit only survived enough for a couple of shots before I devoured it! I wanted to accentuate the colors of the fruit, so I used a shallow depth of field - f 5.6.. To bring the viewer′s eye to the foreground. Yum! This was after a sunrise shoot and swim at the beach at Hanalei Bay, Kauai, so it was as delicious as it looks!

Soft Focus for Appeal

© Steve Dunwell Soft focus can be very appealing for food close-ups.  Less information lets the viewer fill in his own desires.  This photograph was shot with Lensbaby + telephoto adapter.

Using Bounced Light in Food Photographs

© Michael Steinberg This shot was taken at a wedding reception by a Nikon 70-200 vr2 camera with a sb900 flash bounced from the left side off the ceiling as the main light with a bounce from a sb900 flash set to exposure compensation of -2 stop on camera. taken at a wedding reception. Colors were emphisized in Nik Color Effex Pro  and contrast was added.

Farmers Market Photography

There’s a Farmers Market near you! Every town has one. Every big city has several. They are typically held in a park or in the middle of a closed street on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Find yours and bring your point and shoot (P&S) camera. © Milton Heiberg Remain unobtrusive as a photographer, but active as a shopper. Bring some money and buy some of the beautiful fruits and vegetables—they’re good for you. If you come armed with heavy artillery cameras and don’t buy anything, most merchants will try to get you out of the way of the shoppers. But with a simple P&S camera you are not in the way, and you can carry the bag of veggies in your other hand. © Milton Heiberg The merchants will probably help you or even pose for you. Bring the heavy artillery if you have something special in mind, but you will be noticed as a photographer and not blend in as easily. This is one event where you would leave the tripod in the car. © Milton Heiberg Every picture here was taken with a Lumix TZ3 P&S camera set on “Normal Picture” or “Macro.” Most are a little more than studied “grab shots.” And because I was a customer, a bit of time-consuming studying was tolerated by both the merchants and the other customers. Some fruit and vegetable displays are very picturesque and it is almost impossible to make a bad picture. Then you just reach over the subject and take a “Hail Mary” shot with your eyes closed. Oh! Alright—keep them open. © Milton Heiberg If your pictures are for personal use, camera club competition, or even editorial (non-commercial) publication, you don’t need a model release. But it is safer to get one if you can. It is a good idea to carry several forms in your camera bag (or pocket in this case) for the impromptu occasion. You can print out a “Simplified Model Release” from ASMP at and re-word it for your specific needs.  

Just Peachy

© Rick Wright Sometimes you sit down for eggs at the local diner and you come up peaches. While waiting for my breakfast plate (eggs-over-easy with grits), the chef de cuisine was cutting up and sharing fresh Jersey peaches with the counter diners. Lucky me, I happened to have my camera nearby (ALWAYS carry yours). The light was very low and I wanted to use ISO 100 for its smooth tones. So, I had to choose a wide open aperture (ƒ2.8) and pray. Happily, the extremely shallow depth-of-field put the emphasis on those glowing yellow peaches and proved a nice contrast with the stainless steel background. By chance, the chef-in-question passed through my frame and provided that extra bit of motion and interest inside the frame. It pays to consider all moments of your day as possibilities for photographic chances. Peachy.

Using a Reflector to Enhance Your Cook Out

© Joel Silverman A silver reflector can turn a snapshot into a professionally-lit photograph.  An image like this has subjects in dark forest withbright mid-day lake scenery visible behind them.  Perfect exposure for the subjects would mean "blowing out" the lake because the exposure range of the camera can′t handle such a great difference in brightness.  By using a reflector to brighten up the subjects, their brightness level is closer to the background and so the contrast is lowered to a usable range.

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