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Old 01-29-2012, 02:38 AM   #1
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A few recent dishes I made, as photography exercise

I have been posting my food photos here and asking for advises. After taking the advises I experimented different settings on my camera, adjusted color in photo editor, and tried different lighting. Funny thing is that I think the best lighting I found is a tungsten chandelier on top of my dinner tables, which lets my camera kick off white balance almost perfectly, and brightness is just right too. Unfortunately the chandelier has too many bulbs and it creates multiple shadows. What do you guys think of the following, in terms of plating and photography? Be rest assured that their flavors are all great :)

the meat from the neapolitan ragu which is not eaten with the pasta



This is pho, I kind of "cheated" by adjusting the color saturation



Gumbo


Zuppe Toscana that I copycatted from olive garden



Chicken Scallopine



Buffalo wings



Smoked prime rib



Grilled pork chop and peach salsa


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Old 01-29-2012, 03:51 AM   #2
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I will take the smoked prime rib. Great photos. Makes me hungry.
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Old 01-29-2012, 04:27 AM   #3
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your photography has gone from good to great, hyp!

and i'll have one of each... yum!
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:31 AM   #4
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Great job! Much much much improved.
And don't think you cheated by adjusting the color afterward, there is nothing wrong with that.
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:45 AM   #5
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Great photos. Wish I could do that! Do you need an assistant who would also be willing to act as a taster???
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:50 AM   #6
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They look beautiful, I want recipes!
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:54 AM   #7
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My mouth is watering, and it's only 8AM, and I've had breakfast. Great photos! Love them all.
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Old 01-29-2012, 08:01 AM   #8
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Awesome photos!

The food looks real and ready to jump off the plate .. good job !!
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Old 01-29-2012, 08:53 AM   #9
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Good. The first one has a small focus problem, but I understand that with the lighting you were using, you may not have had much latitude. But it needs a bit more depth of field to bring the near edge of the meat in. Color saturation adjustment is not a problem. I shoot everything in RAW and go from there in software.

The pho, the gumbo, and the zuppe are especially good. I can see the texture and the range of ingredients clearly. The scollpine is weak. The potatoes are strange. I know they look like that, but I think they need to look more like potatoes and less like dry fungi. The cauliflower suffers some of the same focus problem as above and has some odd color variations. It looks like it might have gone texturless dead white and had been burned in and went off color. They can stand the color, though, but not the soft focus for a vegetable with that much textural character.

I would like to have seen enough off the wings to know what they were without the caption. The rib looks good but a bit lonely. Maybe staging it with the remaining whole portion of meat in the background.
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:08 AM   #10
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Dude you have come a long way with your photos. Each dish looks really appetizing.

meat from the neapolitan ragu

Real nice shot. Good color contrast and focus.

pho

I like how you have the basil and sprouts in the background.
The meat looks kind of gray (which is not surprising). Next time set everything up including the camera. Add the meat and quickly take the shot before the meat starts to cook.

Gumbo

Soups and stews are hard to shoot. I love gumbo but it is hard to shoot since everything can be just brown. You did a nice job of showing the ingredients and you put in lots of color contrast.

Zuppe Toscana

I like this shot. Your lighting really brings it out. They only way it would have been better is with more expensive gear. Really nice job for what you are working with.

Chicken Scallopine

The chicken looks really good. The potatoes in the back ground look odd. I think lighting would have been key here

Buffalo wings

Nice shot.

Smoked prime rib

The prime rib looks good but the sprouts look off. I think lighting would have been key here.

Grilled pork chop and peach salsa

The pork chop looks really tasty! The color contrast sitting on the broccoli is good.
Your salsa should have really popped nice color contrast. But the peaches look a bit washed out but that is a small detail.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:12 AM   #11
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thanks everyone! Guessing that I'm getting closer to my camera's full cap lol
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:28 AM   #12
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As my dad would have said, it all looks good enough to eat. Good job!
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:50 AM   #13
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If you mean reaching the limits of your camera's capabilities, that's not going to happen. No one ever reached the capacity of even a fixed focus Instamatic.

Most food photography is high-key. If you get bored and want to really expand into a new challenge, try doing food in low key. Try something like a cherry pie. The deep reds and browns and the glossy filling and crust texture can really pop.

Not mine, but something I could quickly grab to illustrate.
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC View Post
If you mean reaching the limits of your camera's capabilities, that's not going to happen. No one ever reached the capacity of even a fixed focus Instamatic.

Most food photography is high-key. If you get bored and want to really expand into a new challenge, try doing food in low key. Try something like a cherry pie. The deep reds and browns and the glossy filling and crust texture can really pop.

Not mine, but something I could quickly grab to illustrate.
do you think my camera will handle low light? Whenever I do it I tend to get lots of noise on the image and I was told that only high end cameras can handle low light without introducing noise
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:25 PM   #15
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To do low key, it's not necessary to have a camera that will handle especially low light. High key feels light because the average luminosity is high. That doesn't mean the focus of the subject has more intense light on it. Just as it is in a low key photo where the average luminosity is low. And the perceived contrast is higher. It's not really higher. In fact, the actual reflective range may be higher in a high key photo. The lightest textured white (not dead white) is often exposed similarly in both low and high key. And the darkest textured area (not dead black) is also often similarly exposed in both. But high key lighting usually produces no featureless shadows. And low key usually produces no prominent featureless whites. (A photograph with significant areas of both dead white and dead black doesn't work. Snow has texture. Coal has texture.) You will see both high key and low key photos that take things very far, but the best photographs always use the full range of the material.

Now, don't think of high key as what you have been doing, although the typical three light setup is sort of lighting scheme also used in high key. In low key, often a single light source is used. But cut a small hole in a piece of paper and lay it over the cookies in the photo I posted. You'll see that the lighted areas of the cookies, like the one on the top left, are perfectly exposed and would have been perfectly exposed in any photo. You could set up the same scene high or low and use the same camera at the same settings. And the shadows in the shallow crevices of the cookies are very much as they would have been in any photo. You really can't tell by looking through that small hole at a part of one cookie whether the photo is high or low key. That doesn't become obvious until you see the deeper shadows and the black background. You might imagine that the low key version was the high key version but with the fill and background lights turned off. But that main light is the same as in the high key version, and the exposure is exactly the same for both. It's not the camera you're manipulating - it's the light.

Some think low key is more challenging. It's more challenging than classic lighting, but high key is just as challenging, if it's to be done right. And it's not that one subject demands one or the other key, but the interpretation you want for a subject will demand one or the other. Low key is dramatic, mysterious, and sometimes ominous. If you want to try some, start with lighter toned subjects. If you can imagine trying to handle chocolate brownies in low key, you see what I mean. It can be done, but it takes carefully chosen props and some very touchy lighting. A slice of fruit pie or a pizza might be a better place to begin.

What you may have trouble with is forcing your camera to properly expose in high key or low key situations. These are not over lit or under lit scenes, but an automatic camera will tend to see them like that and try to compensate, which will wreck the effort. If your camera will allow you manually set exposure or will allow you to lock in exposure, you can place an 18% grey card in the scene at the same place as the subject you want normally lit and note the exposure or lock in the exposure before removing the card.

If you use enough light that this exposure is within reasonable limits, close to about what you've been shooting, you will not have the noise that appears with long exposures in low light. If the exposure gets to long, use a stronger light. The great thing about digital is that you get to try lots of shots with lots of different lighting and different exposures. I learned about lighting and contrast using a 4x5 film camera. You think long and hard before you pull the trigger with big individual pieces of film.
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