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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Weekend Cooking - Food Photography

While browsing the web, I came across an article on food photography that I read because I would like to improve my food photos when I do cooking posts. I thought that this topic might be of interest to other Weekend Cooking bloggers. So, I researched several more articles and put together this post.

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking over at BethFishReads.com. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)

I think that my two main problems are the lighting in my kitchen and the fact that my speckled granite counters look a bit busy as the background in some of my photos.

It was interesting for me to find out that lighting is a problem for a lot of food bloggers who are taking photographs. I have good lighting in the kitchen...its good for cooking but not so much for photos.

There is a huge window and a lot of light comes in and bounces off the shiny counter tops and I get a lot of glare. It is a real problem.

Normally, I like natural light - I take a lot of photos outside. But, I did not want to take the food outside because that would look strange...as in, "Here I am today, demonstrating how to make a pot roast in the backyard." See? Kind of strange.


Well, blogger Dawnviola of Wicked Good Dinner had a solution to this very problem in a post she did for BlogHer. She actually has a cart (see photo) that she uses to take everything to the back porch and she uses a white apron to hide the hot tub! Genius! Wish I'd thought of it!

This other article says something similar with regard to lighting: "Use natural light whenever you can. The ideal set-up is a next to a large window, with a white curtain to diffuse the light.

If you can’t get natural light, don’t be tempted to use your flash. Flash photography is too harsh for food’s delicate sensibilities. It flattens everything out and makes for unappealing shiny spots."

So, I think my big window is ok, but the problem is that that I do not have a white curtain over it to diffuse the light. That is why I am getting happy little beams of light bouncing all over the place. I do not think that a white curtain is the solution right in the middle of the cooking area. It would stay dirty all the time, I am afraid. So, I am going to go with the solution of making a little outdoor photo area.

As I said earlier, I think that my other issue is 'busy' backgrounds. I think the same white apron solution takes care of that. Also, all of the articles that I read suggested a few props and garnishes.

A third source that I consulted, Epicurious, had an article about a "Food Blogging for Dummies" book. I did not know there was a "Dummies" book for food blogging! There are a few excerpts and they are very pro- natural lighting, as well.

I am going to try to incorporate some of these suggestions into future cooking posts, and we will see how they look!!

23 comments:

  1. You put me to such shame. Cooking is my nightmare. I'd rather attempt knitting. Which is also my nightmare. I'll just keep coming back and wish you could cook for ME.

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    1. But, you do weaving, which is at least as hard, probably more so!

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  2. I'm trying to better my food photography skills as well! A decent background is one of my biggest limitations. Everything looks so busy in mine.

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    1. I think that these articles advocate getting a real close shot so the background does not show much plus draping something over things in the background.

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  3. I'm bookmarking this post. I hate taking photos of my food because I never like how it looks. Thank you, thank you for researching this.

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    1. Glad that you found it helpful!!

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  4. Great post! I try to use natural lighting. But not so easy in the winter, when we eat and it's dark already. The dummies book sounds like it would be helpful!

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    1. Yea...not sure what to do if it is dark outside :/

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  5. very interesting details, I am bookmarking the articles - many thanks Libby!

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    1. Thanks! Let me know how it works out. :)

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  6. Thanks for the post; you gave us lots of good tips.

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  7. this is a very timely post for me - having just had some recipes rejected by Foodgawker on the basis of the photos not being good enough. Thanks. Have a good week.

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  8. My kitchen gets little natural light, and the one small window is on the east side, so the sun has moved to the other side of the house in the early evening when I am cooking. This set-up definitely causes problems for food photography.

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  9. Thanks so much for dropping by and visiting. I will be checking out the book you mentioned Shadows Walking. You also mentioned it being about the doctors on trial, that would be very interesting.
    Again serendipity!!

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  10. Thanks for the tips. I'm always looking for ways to improve my food photos. I recently bought Helene Dujardin's Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling but haven't had time to study it yet.

    I use natural light whenever I can, but of course there's so much I need to learn about using a good DSLR camera.

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  11. Thanks for doing all this research! Food photography is really hard for the home cook, but you've given us lots of good pointers.

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  12. Thanks for this post. I am also a bit disappointed with how a lot of my food photos turn out. Probably doesn't help that I tend to take the photos on my phone but there are some handy tips here.

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  13. I definitely need so help with food photography. Mine never really look as appetizing as they do in teal life. Thanks for your tips, I will give them a try next time I do a food photo.

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  14. Great ideas! Thanks for the post and the links.

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  15. This is a great post that I'll bookmark to come back to. I've been thinking a lot about food photography lately but my issue is mostly cooking in the evenings when there is no natural light and only the crappy bulbs I have. I've thought about getting a standalone light but haven't looked into it much. I wish more photographers would do a pull-back shot so that some of us newbies can actually see what to do (or maybe that's the point!).

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  16. Great tips! Natural light is definitely the biggest thing I always recommend. I actually DO tote the majority of my food outside to photograph it. My neighbors are used to it. They know what I do, LOL! I'm sure I'd make for some pretty funny "sneak" videos. Straddling picnic tables...balancing on wobbly benches...crouching and turning...just to achieve the right angle, etc. Ha ha ha ha....

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    1. That would actually be a great video - LOL! The natural light thing is huge, as I just found out. I think that it is the single biggest thing that ppl can do to make their food photos look better.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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