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Old 11-27-2011, 11:19 AM   #1
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Refining the dish - what can I do?

So I made the grilled salmon steak below, partly to finish off the left over food from thanksgiving (roasted butternut squash), and partly to practice food photography. It's very simple dish, salmon marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, celery seeds and garlic. The green stuff below is chimichurry. I feel the fennel sprig is too big, could be smaller.Do you guys have other ideas on how to refine this dish, in terms of both presentation and cooking?

thanks!


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Old 11-27-2011, 11:40 AM   #2
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I don't think you need to change anything. It looks great as is. If you wanted you could take the sprig (that size or smaller) and stick it into the squash so it stands up more. I am not saying that would look better than what you have, but it is an alternative.

Your photography has gotten much better. You have the exposure about right. Now if you could just get it a bit more in focus you would have a great shot. Think about investing in a tripod if you plan on taking a lot of shots like this. It will improve your pictures in a big way.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:43 AM   #3
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I think you need more separation of the salmon and squash, they look too stacked and you can't get a good visual of the squash. Tiny bits of the fennel on the fish and a larger sprig, maybe half the size of what you used, should be inserted between the squash and fish so the frond is outlined by the white plate, better contrast.

The meal sounds good.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:45 AM   #4
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Thanks GB, the biggest problem I have right now is focusing. My camera can do either auto focus or manual focus, this is what auto focus can do best. when I use manual focus, though, I can't really tell from the display really whether it's focused properly, even with the "magnifying glass" show in the middle of the screen that's supposed to help me with it.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:47 AM   #5
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Thanks Princess it's a good idea to put the sprig in between!
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:41 PM   #6
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I see that you now have two light sources, hyp, the highlights in the skin and drizzle of chimichurri stand out well. Remember that the human eye instinctively searches a visual field for its highlights (like the catchlight in a human/wildlife eyeball). Trace the geometric outline of an image (edges of plate, salmon steak backbone, crescent of sauce, etc.) to see if, together -- just the penciled lines no color no texture -- it forms a pleasing geometric pattern. Be hyperaware of blanks spaces when composing, such as the upper-right black corner. Except for radial subjects such as flowers, do not center-compose photographs as a general rule.

Is fennel actually used in the dish? Yes, it's a bit large, but it is attractive. If the dish doesn't contain fennel, though, I might have opted instead to use celery leaves for garnish.

It looks mighty tasty!
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:00 PM   #7
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You don't have a focus problem. You have a camera movement problem. Look closely at the point source highlights, and see that they are crescent shaped. And if you enlarge other parts, the fennel fronds for instance, you will see that they, too, are in motion, not out of focus. The obvious fix is a tripod, clamp-on mount, or whatever.

Once the stable camera thing is fixed, if focusing is still questionable, make a focusing target to put into the scene while manually focusing. A good target can be made by printing a block of numbers in a smallish, plain font. Something like three lines of numbers 0 to 9, the top row black, and the next two rows in lesser shades of grey.

The two light sources are causing distracting dual shadows. They are also contributing to the many point reflections on the food, which are not good things, because they look either unnatural or like there is something like salt or sugar dusted on the food. Well-textured food like this will look fine with a broad, diffuse, shadowless light source. You can construct one by draping gauze, tissue, of thin cloth over a framework. Then, you can still use multiple sources outside that framework, but they won't create point reflections.

Now, the squash won't look so good with soft light, but it doesn't look so good now, either, for all that it's realistically depicted. This is where food photography diverges from live presentation. A little glycerin sprayed on or some light syrup painted on the squash before the fish is placed will give it some life and will make it more appealing. Alternately, give it more space in the shot, so we can see what it is. But it may be okay to just do as suggested and get the fennel involved with the squash.

My only other comment is that the plate is lost on the white background. Change the background or something.

Oh, and, this next one will likely correct itself when you redo the lighting, but you see that the shadows are warm, reddish. That's because you are using two deliberate light sources from essentially nearly the same direction and a third inadvertent light source, which I would guess is the incandescent room light. The shadows receive light only from the room light, which will be reddish compared to strobes or quartz. Turn off all lights except those you are deliberately using. Without some considerable conscious practice, you will not see this problem when you're setting up the shot. Your eye makes the color correction in the shadow, just as it does outdoors on a sunny day when all the shadows are bright blue from sky light.
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:53 PM   #8
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yea Spork, I do need to consider my picture composition more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC View Post
You don't have a focus problem. You have a camera movement problem. Look closely at the point source highlights, and see that they are crescent shaped. And if you enlarge other parts, the fennel fronds for instance, you will see that they, too, are in motion, not out of focus. The obvious fix is a tripod, clamp-on mount, or whatever.

Once the stable camera thing is fixed, if focusing is still questionable, make a focusing target to put into the scene while manually focusing. A good target can be made by printing a block of numbers in a smallish, plain font. Something like three lines of numbers 0 to 9, the top row black, and the next two rows in lesser shades of grey.

The two light sources are causing distracting dual shadows. They are also contributing to the many point reflections on the food, which are not good things, because they look either unnatural or like there is something like salt or sugar dusted on the food. Well-textured food like this will look fine with a broad, diffuse, shadowless light source. You can construct one by draping gauze, tissue, of thin cloth over a framework. Then, you can still use multiple sources outside that framework, but they won't create point reflections.

Now, the squash won't look so good with soft light, but it doesn't look so good now, either, for all that it's realistically depicted. This is where food photography diverges from live presentation. A little glycerin sprayed on or some light syrup painted on the squash before the fish is placed will give it some life and will make it more appealing. Alternately, give it more space in the shot, so we can see what it is. But it may be okay to just do as suggested and get the fennel involved with the squash.

My only other comment is that the plate is lost on the white background. Change the background or something.

Oh, and, this next one will likely correct itself when you redo the lighting, but you see that the shadows are warm, reddish. That's because you are using two deliberate light sources from essentially nearly the same direction and a third inadvertent light source, which I would guess is the incandescent room light. The shadows receive light only from the room light, which will be reddish compared to strobes or quartz. Turn off all lights except those you are deliberately using. Without some considerable conscious practice, you will not see this problem when you're setting up the shot. Your eye makes the color correction in the shadow, just as it does outdoors on a sunny day when all the shadows are bright blue from sky light.
oh lord you are so observant lol. I do have 3 light sources, 2 from overhead roof mounted yellowish fluorescent lights and one from a fluorescent lamp that I placed about 60 degrees above the food. That's all the lights, and brightest ones I could gather from the house. I don't have a umbrella set yet, though I really want one. but if I cut off the overhead fluorescent lights, wouldn't the picture (and the shadows) too dark? How do I increase the ambient light in order to make the shadow less dark?
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Old 11-27-2011, 05:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyperion View Post
How do I increase the ambient light in order to make the shadow less dark?
These colapsable reflectors come is all sorts of shapes and sizes. I have a small one that fits in my camera bag that I paid $5 for.
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Old 11-27-2011, 05:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
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These colapsable reflectors come is all sorts of shapes and sizes. I have a small one that fits in my camera bag that I paid $5 for.
Thanks, how do you use it, do you shine your light source on it and then redirect it to the object?
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