Food photography - a learning process

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by cookie1105, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. cookie1105 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #1
    Hi,
    over the last couple of weeks I have been trying to shoot some pictures of food for my restaurant. This has been the first time I have tried combining food and photography...I really enjoyed it and I would really like to get better at it.
    To that end I am coming to you guys for some honest C&C, so that I can improve. Thanks for taking the time.

    Well, here we go:

    #1 Salad with warm-smoked salmon
    [​IMG]

    #2 Watermelon salad with feta & basil
    [​IMG]

    #3 Club sandwich (Danish stylee...)
    [​IMG]

    #4 Chocolate cake with mint cream and raspberry sauce
    [​IMG]

    #5 Brunch
    [​IMG]

    #6 Apricot tarte tatin with almond ice-cream
    [​IMG]

    #7 Salad with warm-smoked chicken breast and tallegio croutons
    [​IMG]

    #8 Wienerschnitzel mise en place
    [​IMG]

    #9 Melon salad
    [​IMG]

    #10 Soured yoghurt with mysli and fruit
    [​IMG]

    #11...and on a red background
    [​IMG]

    #12 Charcuterie
    [​IMG]

    Equipment:
    350d
    50mm f/1.4

    Thanks
    Andy
     
  2. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #2
    lighting is nice, composition looks fine (I dunno anything about food photography, so no help there)...but stop down more. get the whole plate in focus, and more of any utensils.
     
  3. NeGRit0 macrumors 6502a

    NeGRit0

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Location:
    Las Vegas, Nv
    #4
    I think you pretty much got it down. Im no pro, but those look very nice, and tasty as well.

    an i agree with toxic, unless thats whats you were going for. it works well in #1, but i think in #2 the bread and bowl should be in focus as well, as soft as they are depicted i dont see the point in including them in the shot. Are they a part of the shot or not, ya know? It's not like you are shooting through a tree and must blur a branch in the foreground to lead the viewer into what you are showing them.
     
  4. bootedbear macrumors 6502

    bootedbear

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #5
    Food photography is hard!

    I think you've done some really good work here. As stated above, lighting (really important) and composition are great. The narrow depth of field is very distracting though.
     
  5. Gatteau macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 23, 2009
    Location:
    Italy
  6. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #7
    Lighting is good on all but #3. I agree with what's been said about the shallow DOF: not helping here. No need for f/1.4; I'm going to guess you made that choice because you weren't using a tripod. So use a tripod. ;)
     
  7. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #8
    Dof

    I'm going to disagree with the comments about the shallow DOF. Most food photography that I see (not that it makes it right) in magazines and such have very shallow DOF. Very much like these samples. I think she/he's hit the mark if that was what he was going for.

    Personally, I like #3 the best. The focus on the sandwich is nice and the bottle of beer make it a good meal.

    I don't really care for #5. It's a little messy, having everything in focus doesn't help to draw my eye to any one subject. The crumbs are distracting. I find my eyes darting from spot to spot ... then finally landing on the newspaper.

    All of the rest are right on for what I consider food photography.
     
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #9
    It's interesting you like that one the best, given the lighting. The sandwich is not getting much light, and the beer bottle is. The bright yellow of the bottle draws the eye, yet the bottle is out of focus--same with the candle. So the photo seems unresolved.
     
  9. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #10
    The pics look pretty good, I'd say. The test, I suppose, is do they make the viewer feel hungry feel hungry?

    On the whole the pics look a bit 'cold' and clinical, and the colours of some of the dishes are a bit distracting: ie number 6, apricot tarte. The colour of that green dish is a real turn-off. The bowl in no 11 looks like a child's breakfast bowl, and the red platter in no 12 draws the eye more than what's on it. The container in no 8 looks like something plastic for storing food in a freezer.

    I'd say no 4 works best for me. I want to grab the spoon and try that raspberry sauce.

    There's a very fine line, in food photography, between what works and what doesn't. I'd say these were a good start... but not yet good enough to be visual advertisements for the food in your restaurant. I'd warm up the white balance and pay more attention to the palette of colours you choose, so they really enhance the look of the food.
     
  10. Flash SWT macrumors 6502

    Flash SWT

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #11
    Very nice work. (I hate getting food assignments.)

    I'm also going to disagree with the majority, I like the shallow DOF. In 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 the focus is the food, not the objects in the background (which do however add a nice element to the images).

    .
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #12
    These aren't bad, but they're not the quality I'd want to use for advertising- I'd suggest a book or workshop on food photography- the folks who do it well know all the tricks (and still end up with food stylists doing the arrangements.)

    I think the angle is too low- it's an adult dish with a child's viewpoint. The bright green in the front distracts the eye from the salmon, and the view is far enough back that we don't get the texture of the salmon. I think the narrow DoF hurts here.

    This would work as a stock image, and the lighting and composition work well. I think if it were on a menu, I'd want to see the whole thing, not just a portion of the bowl, but it'd work well for advertising, decoration or things like that.

    The sandwich is under-lit in the front, and the eye is drawn to the OOF bottle intead. The food could use a bit of tidying up too I think, though the bun's non-level state does seem to indicate a bit of "overfilled," so I'm not sure I'd straighten that in a reshoot. The lettuce could use arranging better though.

    Another good image, but the blown spoon kills it for me. If you tone that down then I think you have a winner.

    This one really doesn't work for me. The food and crumbs on the table say more "messy" than "tasty."

    I'm not sure about the plate color choice either- but I also don't like the shape of the ice cream or the poor lighting in the back half of the photo- the front half is light and reflective, the back half is dark and foreboding.

    Poor arrangement again- the bread/cheese in the front presents a large face which would have texture if it were in focus, and the nice bright path of chicken leads not to an in-focus point of interest, but to a blurry and out of focus ending. I'd probably have made the front element more horizontal and placed focus towards the back of the chicken so the viewer's eye is led into the center of the salad.

    Sorry, just not a compelling image to me- maybe in a cookbook, but that'd be about the only place IMO.

    Not bad, but the melons need to be brighter, and possible the spoon a bit darker. You want the eye drawn to the melons and that means more light- but just on the melons- so a snooted flash perhaps 2/3rds of a stop or so more off of the current exposure.

    The second, closer shot is better, but the reflections on the spoon need to be tamed by positioning it like the first one.

    This needs to be wider or re-arranged, you're showcasing the garnish on the side, not the main part.

    Overall a very good effort, just a bit more work to get there...
     
  12. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    Location:
    melbourne.au
    #13
    All criticisms are valid but despite that it's a good collection here. Pretty good work!

    #5 is too sloppy in composition. The colours and spoon in #6 are all wrong. Why the hell is the spoon sitting there so awkwardly? #8 doesn't need to be here except as a 'back page' or 'flap' illustration in a book, for example.

    There's too much empty space in some of these - or rather, not enough TEXTURE. Look at food magazines. You are so close!! They use lovely textures like linen and so forth, and have a lovely way of lighting to dishes with a large diffuser coming from behind the food so that the camera has to open up a bit to properly expose the foreground, thereby causing the background to be overexposed ever so slightly.

    The images must give a warm, homely feel. Yours feel a little 'cold', as good as they otherwise are.

    You also should centre some of the subjects. Don't be afraid to put your subject in the centre of the frame. It really does work if you have a nice, tight composition.

    Go and pick up a good quality food magazine. I don't know what you have in Danmark but I'm sure you have magazines like these:

    http://www.donnahay.com.au/

    http://www.australiangoodtaste.com.au/

    I'm sure you have access to Vogue Entertaining as well.

    Heck, I'll be happy to send you a few copies of each of the above if you need them (as long as you send me something from Denmark ;-) ).
     
  13. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #14
    Yeah, the technical stuff escapes me most of the time. Maybe I like it best because I was hungry for a sandwich and beer. ;)

    To each their own.
     
  14. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #15
    I think you need to make sure that each dish is in focus. Place setting, centerpieces, extraneous bottles of sauces and stuff, those can be blurry if they're clearly not the subject of the picture, but having a dish be blurry at the front, then in focus in the middle and then blurry again at the back is not good IMO.

    Enhance the subject, diminish the background
     
  15. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
  16. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604

    thegoldenmackid

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    dallas, texas
  17. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #18
    Very good advice
     
  18. ghoztman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 23, 2008
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #19
    One thing about shooting food is that if what you are shooting is actually all food then you are at times limited to time, for example the time it takes ice-cream to melt.

    What I am getting at is that you don't actually need to be taking pictures of 100% food.

    I was a chef and have witnessed lots of food photography. You'd be amazed at what they actually used on the food, painting or spraying it with oil or varnish to give it that extra shine or using materials that aren't really edible. They might lift a salad by filling the bowl with paper etc. It's really set and prop building. Food in photographs is heavily modified and the dishes themselves are mostly inedible.

    The food in the pictures looks good, and it looks like food. If your primary focus is on producing quality photos that portray delicious looking things... check out the cheats.

    If lighting is going to be used properly then you may as well doctor the surfaces, for example in

    photo 1 - how about we see more of the warm smoked salmon, and give it a lick of oil to shine it up

    photo 2 - let's see more of the salad, try a different landscape looking over the salad. Again, even though you may not want oil or varnish on your watermelon, shine it up and see what the results are.

    photo 6 - the tart tatin, yum! Let's see the glistening shiny butter caramel topping of the tart tatin, the deliciousness of this is hidden. Once again, you don't actually have to use caramel to make it shine.

    Very nice photos though, me likey.
     
  19. ghoztman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 23, 2008
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #20
    Except in sushi restaurants :)
     
  20. tcphoto macrumors 6502a

    tcphoto

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, GA
    #21
    I shoot food for a living and the link to Donna Hay's site will be an eye opener. I started out shooting people but a friend turned me on to shooting food. Donna's magazine sets the standard for our genre and you would be wise to study those images. It is about lighting, styling and an sensibility that will help you create successful images.
     
  21. Bennett Karl macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #22
    Hi,

    The lighting will contribute greatly to the overall mood, and therefore appeal, of the food. Shooting in the studio will give a polished, professional look because it offers the most control over the environment, from a lighting standpoint. That’s not to say that you can’t get great results on-location, but it does involve more work to control the surroundings. Most professional photographers will use multiple off-camera flash units, sometimes with diffusion between the flash head and the subject.
     

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