I tried something different tonight. I spent some time cooking up a dinner from a Food Channel show and it looked so good, I ran to get my camera and took some shots of it. I was also trying to remember some advice I had been reading in a book called Digital Food Photography
. So I attempted a few things with the bare minimum of lighting and the onboard flash.
I used my 17-55 2.8 first wide open but really did not like the results from that. Way too shallow depth of field with the 55mm racked out. So I ended up at F8 to F10. I started shooting at ISO 1000 but ended up at ISO 2000 to get the shutter speed at LEAST to the 1/10 I shot at and without a VR lens.. ouch! I comp’ed the exposure by +.7 and the onboard flash was dialed down -2 stops. I used the slow shutter to get a bit of the ambient light and I shot RAW to make damn sure I had all the info I could get.
I did get some black poster paper to put on the wooden table for the table top shot. The tones of the food and the table just blurred all together too much and the black gave the badly needed visual separation. For the plate, I used the cast iron burners of the stove and under exposed them so you get just a touch of visual kitchen reference.
I ended up with two out of about 15 images that were lit nicely and not blurred from the hand holding at such an absurd shutter speed. Both had BAM presets applied in Lightroom and both had color balance adjusted and the color luminosity adjusted after I was done with the coarse adjustments in CS4. In CS4, I used Noiseware to remove the noise of shooting ISO 2000 and then flattened the image and applied a high pass filter. I did a bit color burn in here in there to accent some of the colors. I also adjusted the black point to give a bit more contrast overall. All of this in about 10 minutes worth of work in post.
My final results are here and I think given the circumstances, they turned out pretty well. I am certainly going to learn how to shoot food better and the above book is highly recommended as a good guide it it.
Shooting food is fun and quite the challenge even for a “snapshot” type of picture. You need to light it well, keep the focus and keep appealing visually. Get the overall tone wrong and food just looks bad no matter how well technically you have done in shooting the image.
I found some good tips at Foodportfolio.com. The blog is too busy for my taste with ads but there is good stuff there if you are willing to dig around.