Photography is definitely fun! I love taking photographs of just about anything. Flowers, animals, cakes... ;) It can also be challenging sometimes, but that makes it fun right? :) I'm no professional photographer but I like to "dabble in the arts." I've been food blogging for a few months now and can definitely see the improvement on my photos. It was really interesting to discover all the different ways you can manipulate your camera and your settings around you to get the desired photo.
I've complied ten tips for photography (which can be found here) that I use all the time while taking photos, especially with food. However, this time I decided to go a bit more hands-on. Why not do some tips using real photos people took? I thought it would be great to share that everyone can take a great picture and you might even decide to explore the art of photography yourself!
So, I started a forum topic and asked for some people to donate some photos. I was amazed to see so many people allow me to use their work. Thanks to dombeef, lemonie, canida, Ninzerbean, trike road poet, Kiteman, Lithium Rain, Biggsy, and patriots8888 for responding to my topic so fast and giving me great pictures. I'm sorry I couldn't use all of them :(
The format of these tips/critiques/mindless mutterings :) will be some thoughts on the original picture, then some ideas for photo editing or other ways to take the photo, and lastly a main idea for the tip for that photo.
This was really fun so I'll be happy to accept some photos for the next "session" whenever I get a chance of doing one :)
So let's get started with the first photo.
Step 1: ChrysN's Cookies and Coffee
Thoughts on photo:
I was a bit surprised why this photo wasn't the title picture of the instructable (which was the close up of just the cookies). I really like the compositions more in this photo and here's why
- I like that you can see more of the mug in this photo. It gives it more of a "lived in" feel, which is important when photographing food.
- This shot allows you to see more of the cookies and doesn't have a sense of overcrowding.
- It layers the textures and colors better than the other photo as well.
- The set up of the cookies is appealing to eye as well. If you pay attention, the placement of the tree makes the onlooker focus on that. The tree also helps guide the onlooker's eyes to the star. That is good because it pulls the reader in by focusing on the more "unique shapes."
- I would add some color to this photo. There's a lot of browns and neutrals that can seem dull. ChrysN did a nice job of having different shades of brown though. I would add a colored cloth napkin somewhere to give it some color.
- As for photo editing, this photo is great as is. I might increase the color temperature (think yellow light bulb vs white light bulb) a bit for the more home-y feel. The lighting is great in this picture and the shadows are almost nonexistent (which is good as well).
Add some color to give your photo some life and pay attention to layering different colors and textures. And great lighting makes great photos.
Step 2: Biggsy's Easter Cake
Thoughts on photo:
- I was really intrigued by the background. It really presents something interesting to look at. If there was something in the background to pull the onlooker to the cake, it would be even better.
- Sometimes symmetry doesn't work but in this case, it adds to the cake's charm. The little balls placed around the perimeter helps drag you into the center cut out portion.
- The idea of cutting out a piece is definitely a good idea. To touch it up a bit more, clean up the crumbs around the cut out slice. Crumbs are tricky in the way that if they are there, they have be be placed right or it can look a bit messy. In this photo, I don't think that the crumbs are a big deal though :)
- The picture almost looks like it was taken with a flash. For most food photos, I highly suggest against using the flash. It focuses on the the wrong parts of the photo and is tricky to work with.
- The lighting is good, but can be improved. I suggest trying some natural lighting, but if it's at night, try blocking the light from different areas to get the best possible imitation of natural light.
- You can also experiment with composition by placing the food off to the side or shooting from different angles.
- Some photo editing could be to highlight the cake a bit more.
I would go against flash for food photos as it highlights the wrong parts of the photo. Biggsy did a good job of using symmetry and the "cut-out piece" in the photo.
Step 3: Lemonie's Oat Cakes
Thoughts on photo:
- I like how the oat cakes are stacked on top of each other. It adds some variations of height which makes more interesting and eye-catching photos.
- The shape of the cakes really work well. Uniformed shapes always look good in "formations", if that makes sense.
- There wasn't any focus to the picture, which can be good and bad. Sometimes when you take a picture of all the same things having no set focus can also make the picture "work." This picture seems to focus on that little black triangle in the center of the cakes. I would move that but in this photo, it definitely doesn't make or break it.
Photo Editing and Other Ways:
- The lighting in this photo is pretty well done. It's bright and doesn't cause shadows that we can see. The picture is sharp so you can see all the details of the cakes.
- The composition of the photo could be changed but its unique the way it is. I wouldn't cut off the top of the cake, as that brings the focus lower at the little black triangle.
- There are actually many ways to take photos of things that have an uniform shape. Lemonie used a good set-up in stacking them on top of each other. Putting them in threes (in a row or column) is another approach.
Uniform shapes allow for uniform set ups. Try stacking them, putting the objects in a row or column, use a single one as the focus (the rest as background), the possibilities are endless.
Step 4: Canida's Lamb Leg
Thoughts on photo:
- Can I just say I love this photo? :) This photo has so many good qualities, I don't even know where to start.
The lighting is terrific. Not too sharp or overexposed and the use of natural light is evident (if it isn't natural light- WOW!).
I love the color temperature of this photo. It's not too white but just the right amount of yellow.
- See the light shining on the fork? That's the perfect lighting on it. Too much glare can take away from the entire photo.
- Composition is pretty much spotless. Potatoes in the background are a great touch and I love the "interaction of this picture". Food pictures look really "drool-able" when there's some human influence in it. In this picture, there's the fork and the knife cutting the lamb. Others have people holding a handful of crackers, a half eaten sandwich, and similar set ups.
- Sharp images are always the best (but keep in mind- it's not the camera that does the work, it's you)
Photo Editing and Other Ways:
- I wouldn't do any editing on this. The lighting, exposure, temperature, saturation are all great.
- I might change the red in the background to a lighter color since the lamb is already on the dark side. However, the lighting makes the red work.
- I might move the lamb up a bit. The slices that are cut seemed to get cut off at the bottom (get it? cut off? :) That would be the only thing though. Everything looks fantastic.
Natural lighting works the best for food. And remember "human interaction"! Make the picture look "lived-in" (like someone is actually in the process of eating, was eating, etc.). Composition is a must (canida's picture is a perfect example).
Step 5: Recap
- Add some color to give your photo some life and pay attention to layering different colors and textures. And great lighting makes great photos.
- I would go against flash for food photos as it highlights the wrong parts of the photo. Biggsy did a good job of using symmetry and the "cut-out piece" in the photo.
- Uniform shapes allow for uniform set ups. Try stacking them, putting the objects in a row or column, use a single one as the focus (the rest as background), the possibilities are endless.
- Natural lighting works the best for food. And remember "human interaction"! Make the picture look "lived-in" (like someone is actually in the process of eating, was eating, etc.). Composition is a must (canida's picture is a perfect example).
Wow those were some cool photos! I hope everyone decides to try their own hand at photographing (trust me- it's so much fun!). Well I hope this helps and happy photographing!