learning how to photograph food, part 1

photos of Orange Ricotta Pancakes, Chocolate Almond Bark Toffee, and Persimmon Ice Cream

Most of you would surely agree that a key element to a successful food blog is beautiful photography. A gorgeous photo of a mouth-watering stack of pancakes, a plate of chocolate toffee artfully arranged, or generous scoops of ice cream is a sure-fire way to grab a reader’s attention, most likely even before seeing the recipe’s title. Many times it is the photo that propels the reader to click to see the rest of the post.

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new york city trip report – part #2: highlights

I love NY! Every time I visit, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this great city has to offer. This time around, I had 6 days to take in the city and here are some highlights from my trip.

#5 – Occupy LEGO Land inside Occupy Wall Street

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This movement even has its own facebook site… Continue reading

i made it on tastespotting!

OMG! I just made Tastespotting on my first try with my pumpkin bread pudding photo and recipe, not knowing they actually reject many submissions!  If you Google “tastespotting + rejections”, you’ll see countless bloggers pour their frustration out on their blogs on being “gently rejected by TS.”  (Click here and here, for example).  Apparently, in the food blogging world, it’a medium-big deal and I didn’t even know it.  On a whim, I registered, carelessly wrote a caption, added my blog link and hit submit.   Within two hours, I knew something was up because my wordpress stats were going through the roof.  I was expecting it to take 24 hours to be notified of the status of my submission, but look here, I made it… Click here to see my post. Enter “pumpkin” in the search field found on the upper right hand side.  Yeeaay, for me!!!  It’s nice to be appreciated once in a while….ok, I’m done acting like a real  food geek!

When Passions Collide

Food and photography are two of my passions.  Actually, Chris and I share these two interests and as a result, we are able to spend a lot of time together doing these two things we enjoy.  We have different skills and interests in the kitchen and behind the camera and we complement each other very well.  While we both like to cook, Chris is more interested in the technical aspects of photography, while I gravitate towards food plating and styling.  As you’ve read in previous blog entries, our Cuisinart ice cream maker is in constant use.  This week alone, we’ve made three batches of ice cream.  Our challenge with it is not in the creation or consumption, but in photographing it.  Unlike professional food photo shoots where mashed potatoes or frosting whipped with powdered sugar stand in for the real thing, we photograph real, edible ice cream.   This means that we have about 5 minutes before the ice cream melts and drips and looks more like a mess than a delicious icy treat.  It does not help that it is the middle of summer and our house does not have air conditioning.  I spend a good amount of time planning the photo with a stand-in bowl or plate and then replace it with the real thing at the last possible moment. Chris sets up the camera and takes test shots before I bring out the “models.”  It’s usually a blitz of activity for a few minutes before the ice cream starts to melt and then the clean-up starts.  We usually get a few shots we like that I share with all of you.

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Light Quality and Shadow Contrast

 

One of the first photography techniques we learned is how to use aperture settings to take more creative photographs.  You probably noticed that many of our food photographs are close-ups of with a blurry background (photograph above on the left).  That technique uses a wide aperture setting to create a narrow depth of field.  We also tend not to pay too much attention to lighting techniques, partly because we didn’t know much about it and partly due to the fact that the food we were photographing was our meal that was getting cold.

I ran across this amazing blog from Taylor, a food photographer living in Charlotte, NC, who shares food photography tips and tricks.  His tutorial on Light Quality and Shadow Contrast helped us to clearly understand those two basic factors regarding the impact of lighting on photography.

We set out to create a mini-studio in our dinning room using materials we had on hand to try to replicate the techniques described in Taylor’s tutorial.  We taped parchment paper to the glass in our french door to diffuse the natural sunlight coming in (affecting the light quality) and used a white foam board to reflect light from the opposite direction (to control shadow contrast).  The result is the photograph above on the right.  We were pleased with the outcome and with our new found photo techniques.  We hope you like it too.