Friday, July 31st, 2009

Food Photography

Sexy Food.

I am not the best photographer. Heck, I am an amateur. My first decent photo was taken on April 16th 2009, two days before I decided that I would start this food blog. Well, now you see a food blog and photos that keep getting better as each post is added on (I hope!).

Today’s post, if you haven’t caught it from the title yet, is about photography. Mainly about photos that I took yesterday. They’re probably not amazing to a great photographer, but I’m actually happy with them and I think that just getting this far with my photography from shooting my first descent photo in April is a big progression and a big triumph for me.

So, I’d like to share some things with you that I have learned while sharing some technical aspects of these photos.

I’ve named the cluster of photos above “Focus“. Why? Because I am trying to captivate the viewer’s attention (that’s you!) by focusing on the simplicity of different aspects of things food related. I sure hope I did that.

This was a spur of the moment photo shoot, but I did plan my shots.

Some details…

• I use a Canon A550 PowerShot camera. Nothing too expensive and nothing too impressive.
• I almost never use flash 99.99% of the time.
• I always have the macro setting on my camera on (the button with a little flower)
• I almost always have my camera set to an ISO of 200 (unless I forget that it’s on ISO- AUTO).
• I try to take great photos, so I don’t have to edit them a lot.

Technical Details: I used the flash on the camera only for photo of the lemon slices in bottom left hand corner. The macro setting was on for all of the photos. ISO is always on 200 for me.

Photo Editing: I didn’t crop or do any photo enhancements except to the photo of the sliced lemons where I actually used flash, so I cropped it a little, sharpened it a bit, and used the “enhance” button on iPhoto… That’s about all the editing I do to my photos. I don’t use anything too special for my photos, just iPhoto and sometimes if necessary, Picnik.

Setup Details & Props:
I shoot on my kitchen table near a window. No cardboard or anything… I don’t have a tripod, so I try really hard to keep a steady hand, especially when shooting at an ISO of 200.

– For the photo of the pasta sauce in a bowl, I shot it on the windowsill.

Food Photography!

– For the whisk and spoon, I shot it on my kitchen table, using my black chef’s apron. It was facing toward two chairs and the kitchen sink. It’s not the best out of the group, but it’s pretty good…

– For the whisk and white foam, I whipped up some egg white in a metal bowl with the whisk until it had stiff peaks. I actually was going to make the egg white on the whisk have a point to it, but i decided against it because it didn’t look too appealing. I left the bowl in the background for this photo.

Food Photography!

– For the photo of the lemon with the paintbrush and yellow paint, I used an old and worn out cookie sheet placed on the table and took a couple shots from above it… This is my least favorite of the photos in the set because I wish I could have added a little more white to the paint on the paintbrush to make it less yellow. I also wish that I could have edited this photo to make the lemon look a bit more yellow…

– The last photo of the lemon slices was actually a big mistake. I accidentally turned my flash on and took the photo. When I looked at it on the computer, it looked pretty cool, so I took the darkened lemon slices out of the photo by cropping it. The lemon slices were placed on a plain white plate on the windowsill (where the sun was hitting).


– For anyone not using a tripod: sometimes when I don’t have a steady enough hand, I try to lean my hand up against something, even a stack of books, to get the perfect, un-blurred photo. Yes, I know “un-blurred” is probably not a term, but you know what I mean…
– Always try to work near natural light.
– Never use the flash setting on your camera unless you know what you’re doing. In my case, it was pure accident with the lemon slices, but it came out pretty well, don’t you think?
– Try to plan how you want your photos to look. This way, you end up with a great photo that doesn’t need to be edited much
If you’re using a point and shoot like I am, I would definitely recommend using the macro setting, even if you are shooting from far, as it creates a more focused and sharper image.

• Get more of the basics down. I’ve been messing with what angles my photos should be taken, how the light hits certain things, composition, etc.
• Eventually get a dSLR. I mention photography too much on this blog, but trust me I have a gut feeling that it would make all the difference… My gut feelings are never wrong!
• Eventually get a good lens and a tripod for said dSLR. Why not get all the good stuff when you can, right?
• I need to definitely get a bit of a better set up. As my family begins to get used to me taking snapshots of our meals/snacks, I’ll eventually gain the right to an empty kitchen without criticism from my younger sister saying, “Mom, he’s taking pictures of the food AGAIN!” and my mom saying, “Just leave him alone! It’s his hobby…” Frankly, I could care what anyone thinks about me taking photos of my food, but I do like my space when I take photos.

Remember this post? Well, I was using my sister’s shoulders as a tripod to keep the camera steady while I took a quick shot of the chicken… Not a good idea because a) she’s not a tripod, and b) she was getting a bit annoyed at me for using her head as a base for my camera to sit on.

Anyway, I hope this post was helpful to any of you who are a novice to photography (like I am). Hopefully the next time you see a post like this will be when I have achieved to get a dSLR and have taken great photos and can actually give some real advice on food photography! *Fingers Crossed*

Thanks for reading!

Hey everyone, I screwed up when I was typing this… I just noticed that my ISO is always on 200. I must be dyslexic or something… There’s no ISO of 300 on my camera, so scratch the 300 and make it into 200. Sorry.

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  • sb
    February 18th, 2010

    I just want to say that I’m so impressed with your photo skills with a point and shoot. While I’m deciding on which DSLR to buy, I’m inspired to take better pics with my own Canon Powershot.

  • Zoe @ Z's Cup of Tea
    May 15th, 2010

    Great post! I use a point and shoot, too, a Sony Cyber-shot, though I’m looking into getting a new one. I’ve started a list of potential cameras, including yours. It’s hard to decide! I like your blog, too – I found you through Twitter.

  • Rachel
    June 1st, 2010

    I just stumbled across your blog, and in reading these pointers, I switched the settings on my point & shoot to match yours, took a couple of test shots, and was amazed at the difference! They aren’t anywhere near yours, but somewhat of an improvement over what I’ve been doing.

  • Jeannie
    July 10th, 2010

    You are an inspiration! I am also a (new) food blogger with a point and shoot… it’s inspiring to know that it is possible to run a food blog with a simple point and shoot camera. You are actually someone who gave me a “final push” into starting my blog. I love the advice that you gave; made my photography amazingly better. Your website is also so well designed; I wanna have a blog like this someday!

  • Sadaf
    May 3rd, 2012

    I came across your your blog while reading some posts on Food Photography. A 19 year old male food blogger………now that was something interesting. I loved the rustic appeal of your pics……….no fancy props, no elaborate food styling, nice macro shots. I had been using a Canon Powershot SX120IS on auto mode until recently but since my last few posts I have been trying to use the manual mode (quite unsuccessfully).I think the ISO was too low (100) leading to blurry pics…. I will increase it to 200 and see how it goes. A DSLR and tripod are on top of my wish list but until then I need to make the most of my faithful old Point & Shoot.

    Kamran replied:

    Hi Sadaf- thanks so much for your kid words! I just checked out your site– your photos are lovely! Trust me– a dSLR is not entirely necessary to make beautiful photos. All you need is to know how to use your camera (I highly suggest reading the manual- it’s a bit boring, but once you know the tool you’ll be working with, you’ll be able to take beautiful photos without any issues). Everything else is just convenience… A tripod isn’t entirely essential, however, it does help, especially if you don’t have a steady hand. Tripods are anywhere from $5USA to $1500+USA. For a P&S, I suggest one of those tabletop tripods (I think they’re called gorillapods– they run for about $20USA), or even using a stack of books to lean your camera on while making your photos. As I write this. I am using a very cheap tripod from a telescope I got as a birthday gift several years ago. One of the legs is being held together with kitchen twine, and it has lots of “character”. It’s cheap, but it does the job… Also, the 200-400 range would probably be good, and even if that’s not good enough, I highly suggest investing in a photo editing program, or using a free online one to adjust the exposure, etc. in photos. I use Lightroom, and if you’re a student, the latest version is about $80USA, which is phenomenal for what it can do. I hope that helps, and happy cooking and photographing! :)

  • Charul @ Tadka Masala
    November 1st, 2012

    I have a Canon Powershot (P&S) camera and wanted a DSLR for better pics since ever. The only problem is the money that I would need. But now, I think I can take better pictures with my P&S for now. :)

  • Rashmi
    January 22nd, 2013

    Gr8 article Kamran…I am trying to improve my clicks using my good old Canon Powershot P&S. I am getting better results in manual mode with the similar settings you mentioned but the blurry effect for the background is something missing every time. How do you achieve it in Macro mode?? or otherwise?

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