Well this will be a bone of contention for most newbie food bloggers, myself included. How can you get great shots like you see on some food blogs and where do you begin? There are a few posts out there on food photography for bloggers so don’t just rely on mine. However as you ARE here have a look as there are lots of great cheap tips to help keep costs down when starting up.
Getting yourself a decent camera should be one of those things and I recommend you doing your homework on that as it’s a very extensive subject. There’s no shortcut with this one sadly so you might as well get one that does a good job. At the very least I would recommend you get a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera. Not only will it save you hours of trudging back and forth from where you get them developed but you can get them instantly and touch them up yourself too. Before you start spending thousands go for a low to middle range digital SLR where you can really have a good play to get the hang of it before selecting what will probably be your final camera purchase.
Now I am far from experienced and currently not as good as some bloggers who have been taking more or less professional photographs and making good money to boot but I can help you get your shots to a great standard until you can afford to spend the money on a professional setup.
I have chosen to take a photo of a subject close to my heart 🙂 biscuits. I love them and want you to see them in all their glory but let me just take a quick snap and show you the result.
Not very good. So what’s wrong here? Well where do I begin? Firstly I have used the flash as the lighting was poor, all you see is an over lit plate with what you assume is the subject. Also is a bit blurry and out of focus.
So how can I rectify some of these things? Well a good tripod is a must as a jittery hand can ruin even the best of shots and as you are taking photo’s of food you don’t need to worry about movement as you are only taking stills. Even shots where you want to capture a hand holding a cup or something will still be best taken from a tripod.
Another thing you need to do is get rid of background rubbish. The last thing you need is people checking our the background as it’s more interesting than your picture. I have placed my camera on a tripod and zoomed in so lets see the result.
Again not very good. The subject is nice and clear as the camera was very still but it’s still too light from using the flash. Automatic settings usually have the flash feature enabled but turn this off. You will NEVER need the flash. So let’s turn it off and zoom back out for now, take another picture and let’s see the result.
The plate is nice and clear, if you were going to use that as the focus and have the food slightly blurred it would be good but the shot still does not look great. This shot was taken with the lights on in the kitchen so you can see that the light is a bit harsh. The camera is still on an automatic setting too so assuming we cannot turn the lights off and the kitchen does not have much natural light, let’s switch from auto to macro and take a shot. Let’s see the results
That’s much better as it has reduced the harsh glare of the standard auto setting and increased the focus on the biscuits. Lets zoom in to see how this looks. We have used a more advanced zoom lens than the camera comes with. You will find this also will be something you can’t really do without as the results are so dramatically different.
So we have improved the image incredibly with just a few techniques but we really need to do more but what? Well the light is ok but unless you have bucket loads of natural light streaming in from all angles you will never get a great shot without help. I have a light box which I made using a cardboard box and material from a £2 laundry hamper from IKEA. The idea of this is to diffuse the light from any extra light sources you aim at the subject to help the camera bring out the colours and detail without the harshness of direct intensity.
I have placed the plate of biscuits inside the light box and have taken a photo. I have 2 lamps, 1 on either side of the light box. Have a look at the result.
You can see so much more colour and texture in the result than before. This is also a critical thing for you to have when taking photo’s if, as I have previously mentioned, you don’t have bucket loads of natural light. Let’s work on our styling now. I’ll pull back a bit and add a nice placemat which compliments the plate. I’ll also take the shot at about 45 degrees too.
Looks nice but as there is not much on the plate it doesn’t pop in the way I would like so lets drop the height a bit so I’m almost level and will zoom in a bit.
Much better I think, it pulls your eye back to the biscuits. Lets try moving the focus onto the plate for another effect.
It’s a nice shot but I have notice a bit of fluff on the plate, this has to be fixed before we can use it. Let’s adjust the focus back a little to the food.
Yes this looks good. I have noticed the light from the lamps is still creating a lot of light ‘noise’ on the food. What I will do is switch from macro to manual. I will have control over every element of the camera shot but for now I will just focus on the ISO setting. This is the image sensor which controls the light sensitivity. The default is 1600 but this is way too much on manual so I will drop it down to 400.
Whooaahh, still way too bright, looks like I need to drop this and go with 200.
That’s a really nice shot, it’s crisp at the front with a subtle focus loss as you progress back and the colour looks rich and warm. Most cameras have this setting as the minimum but Canon cameras have an ISO of 100 as well so let’s have a look to see how that looks
The colour is not as strong but you can see the image looks even clearer. A general rule of thumb is to use the lowest ISO you can for the best results but it can vary depending on what you are looking for. I’ll take another shot at ISO 100 and will use some software to slightly enhance the colour of the image.
There are many types of software on the market for photography and you can literally spend hundreds if not thousands for top of the range software. With these you can even edit flaws out of the shots rather than take another. There are many free options too although they are not as feature rich as their paid counterparts. I wouldn’t discount them as useful though. Check the image above and note below which I have increased the colour saturation creating a warmer feel to the image. I used a free software tool called Irfanview. I’ve used it personally for years before I even got into blogging so until I get my top end software I’m not going to give up this little beauty just yet.
Well I hope you enjoyed reading this and if so please feel free to comment your thoughts below. I will be adding to this page as my knowledge increases so pop back regularly to keep up to date. You can forget the worry of remembering by subscribing to the blog which will alert you by email when a new update comes in so you will never miss a thing. Thanks for reading