11 Quick Food Photography Tips to Make Mouth Watering Images

One of my first jobs in photography involved shooting food, including doing shots for a cookbook. I learned a lot about food styling and choosing the right props. If you’ve ever needed to take some food photographs or think this is something you might want to try, here’s a few quick tips for you to get started.  Feel free to add your own tips or ask questions.

Food Photography Tips

 

#1 – PICK THE FRESHEST INGREDIENTS



If the skin looks wrinkled, scarred or damaged take it out and get a new one – or angle it in a such way so as not to see the bad side. This seem obvious but sometimes it’s easy to miss. You’re often photographing these things really close up so even the tiniest flaws will show up. Check them over closely and be ruthless when you buy our vegetables.

quinoa-salad

#2 -LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING!


Backlight is key to texture and making it appetizing looking. This will also allow any steam to show up in the image.  Steam or smoke will show up prominently when lit from behind. Notice how much more appetizing the corn and bean salad looks in the second image, and the only difference is the angle of light. The one that has the light skimming across it from behind makes the salad look crisp and fresh, the other one just seems flat and unappealing.

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Lighting from the front and to camera right, notice how flat it seems?

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Lighting from behind makes the salad glisten and look more appealing to the eye.

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Dramatic lighting doesn’t have to be fancy, this was shot on my kitchen floor using light from the patio window.

#3 – KEEP IT SIMPLE


Take out stuff you don’t need. Take out things on the table that are distracting and pair down to just one plate of food.  If the food once cooked is unattractive only show a portion of it. Brown soup doesn’t really seem visually stimulating but if you have to do something with it, get creative with props and cropping and when in doubt follow the “more is less” rule of thumb.

QuinoaKaleSoup

#4 – USE SIMPLE PROPS INCLUDING RAW INGREDIENTS


Simple plates, cutlery, etc. and raw ingredients make great extra props. When I did a lot of food photography I had a cupboard full of different plates, placements and bowls, but only one of each!  Stick to non-patterned plates and bowls so the food stands out more.

If you don't have props use raw food bits
If you don’t have props use raw food bits.

#5 – SHOW A BEFORE AND AFTER SHOT


Showing steps in the cooking process including chopping, in the pot or in process helps people understand the final image. Show one shot before, and one after it’s cooked or step by step images. This works well for things that just don’t look all that great cooked.

Super green soup in the pot before blending shows the ingredients well.
Super green soup in the pot before blending shows the ingredients well.

super-green-soup
After blending it doesn’t look like much so use the before and after, and prop with raw ingredients to help its appeal.

#6 – SHOW IT COOKING


Along the lines of #5 showing it cooking is sometimes better than showing the finished product.

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In the pot and human element added. This was actually photographed on my deck in mid-winter. Can you guess what the background is?

#7 – ADD A HUMAN ELEMENT


Adding a hand stirring a pot or holding a plate allows you to show scale and adds a human element which is often more appealing and real to viewers.  (see photo above)

#8 – DON’T COOK IT COMPLETELY


When meats and vegetables are fully cooked they keep cooking after you remove them from the heat. So to keep them looking plump and juicy remove them from the stove or oven a bit early – take your photos, then put it back it to finish cooking before you eat it. This will keep things from looking shrivelled.

#9 – KEEP THE PLATES CLEAN


This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. The plates and props holding the food must be absolutely 100% pristine, clean, flaw free. When you shoot close up, like most food requires, any imperfections will show up and look like the dish is messy or incomplete.  Like this one.

Oops!  I should have cleaned the pot better.
Oops! I should have cleaned the pot better. Notice how messy it looks?

#10 – VARY YOUR CAMERA ANGLE


Try different angles of view when shooting your food items from directly overhead, tilted, shooting into the edge of the plate or table, and so on.  Get creative and try to show it in a different way than most people would see it.

A little tilt and diagonal lines just adds interest. Notice the back lighting again?
A little tilt and diagonal lines just adds interest. Notice the back lighting again?

#11 – ADD A BIT OF OIL


To make vegetables glisten brush them with a bit of olive oil, or mist a salad with water. It will make them look fresher.

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These veggies were marinated in oil and herbs so notice how they glisten so nicely?

#12 – BONUS TIP FOOD SHOTS EATING OUT


Yup I’m one of those people that takes a photo of my food before I eat it, especially if it’s particularly nicely presented. I feel I owe it to the chef who took such great care in preparing it. Perhaps it my food photography background and I just can’t help myself!  I often just use my iPhone but when I do have my camera I will usually set it up before I eat it and take a few shots.  Here’s a couple of mine.

Okay let’s see how you put this to use!

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French toast at the Byway Diner in Portland, Oregon.

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Cafe latte and beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans

7 Tips for Better Food Photography

For the past couple of years, many of my monthly photography assignments have been food related. This type of assignment has its benefits! Aside from eating really well, and discovering a ton of great new restaurants, I’ve been able to gradually raise my food photography game with the best possible coach- experience.
 
Here are seven basic tips to help elevate your food photography game.
 
 

1. Fill the Frame


Beautiful, sweeping table scapes a la Pottery Barn are always cool, but often times restaurants and environments where you would shoot food commercially just don’t have the beautiful, highly styled environment to make a zoomed out shot work. Closeups are usually more appetizing and get your idea across more quickly and effectively. How to shoot an effective closeup?
 
Choose a featured item (in this case the beautiful slice of fresh apple), lock focus on it, and build your shot around that. Use a shallow depth of field to de-emphasize the little bit of background that you will see. Side note: a red linen was used because green and red are a classic complimentary color paring and help balance the green and red in the overall image.
 
 

2. Go Vertical


One thing I see beginning photographers doing a lot is shooting only about 10% of their shots in the vertical camera orientation. Do something different and shoot vertically! Some subjects like these “goat cheese popsicles” dictate a vertical composition by their shape.
 
Other times, it may not be as obvious. Magazines and cookbooks like vertical compositions because they can easily be a full page print or if you’re lucky, a cover shot which often times pays the photographer a usage bonus.
 
When in doubt, try to capture a horizontal and vertical version of the same dish and have both in your library. (Another common color wheel combination, is blue and orange).
 
 

3. Use the Foreground and Background for Depth


In many cases, food photographers show background items out of focus (salt and pepper in this photo), to give a sense of place and context to the image. You can expand on that by adding the hint of an object like this glass in the foreground. This will help give your images a three dimensional quality and anchor the edges of the image visually.
 
Similar to landscape photography, think “foreground, middle ground, background”. If you have all three, you’ll have an enhanced sense of space and depth.
 
 

4. Backlight It


This eggs benedict photo was made with a very simple lighting setup- a shoot through umbrella from behind the food and a large handheld reflector in front. If you can use daylight through a window and a reflector in front, all the better. Soft backlight (light coming toward the camera) is probably the most common way to light food. Look at your favorite magazines and cookbooks and note the direction of the shadows. Backlight helps define the texture and edges of garnishes while not looking too flat or boring on the front of the dish.
 
Use a white or silver reflector to kick some light back in from the front (camera side) of the plate.
 
 

5. Experiment with Focal Length


There’s a big difference between moving in with your camera and zooming in with a telephoto lens. When we zoom out or use a wide angle lens and move physically closer, it’s easier to show more of the environment. This Thai restaurant had an environment that went along with the dish nicely and gave an editorial feeling.
 
If your goal is to isolate the dish and make a more compressed photo, move physically farther from your subject and let the telephoto lens do the zooming.
 
 

6. Act Fast


If you don’t have the benefit of a professional food stylist helping with the photo shoot, time is of the essence. Hot dishes make herbs and garnishes wilt quickly. Sauces can run away from you in a hurry and oils can separate out of them.  Have a simple, reliable setup that you can execute quickly and without letting the food sit for too long.
 
Alternatively, you can shoot a “stand in” dish before bringing in the “hero” plate. Use a simple, repeatable lighting setup or daylight to speed things up. (see #4).
 
 
 

7. Include Some Action


When shooting static subjects, a bit of action can always add some interest and dynamism. Flames burning, liquid pouring, hands lifting something etc, can all add a spark of motion or interest to a still photo. Some off-camera flash mixed with a slow shutter made the above image an easy one to produce in a limited time frame.
 

6 Tips to Create Amazing eCommerce Product Visuals that Wow Your Customers

So you’ve got yourself an online shop, you’ve invested time and money marketing the site and driving targeted traffic, but you just aren’t selling anything?
 
There are a number of factors that could be stopping people buying from you, one of which could be the way in which you present your products. Are your product images doing you and the product justice?
 
For tips on how to wow your customers visually and start generating sales take a look at this infographic from MineWhat.
 
6 Amazing Tips to Create eCommerce Product Images that Wow Your Customers
 
 

Tips on Photographing Your Handcrafted Sterling Silver Jewelry

The best way to do this is, of course, digitally. Taking good quality pictures of jewelry for most is an unsolved mystery. However, there are some simple techniques used by the professional, which even amateur photographers can use to obtain dramatic results with minimal effort. The following examples show the basic setup that should allow anyone to achieve results they can be proud of.
 
The camera that I use is a Canon A520 Digital. It’s not too expensive, and if you go to our website you’ll see, it takes great pictures. The basic setup I use includes an “Ezcube” light tent to soften the shadows and eliminate glare, while providing a clean and clutter free background. I also use true color daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs as the main light source and clear acrylic risers to provide reflections for an added “professional touch”.
 
The keys to good jewelry photography are sharpness, lighting, and exposure.
 
Focus
 
It is worth getting out your camera’s manual to find out how to put the camera in “spot focus” mode. The normal focus mode of digital cameras is some sort of average focus mode. That means that the camera will look at a wide area of a scene and base the focus on that area. Since you want to control where the camera is focusing, it’s better for jewelry photography to put the camera into spot focus mode, this will allow you to control more precisely what the camera will be focusing on. However, even in spot focus mode many digital cameras can’t really “lock-in” on a small shiny object like gemstone jewelry using auto focus. So unfortunately, for close-up jewelry photography, you need a camera with good manual focus capability.
 
Another key to a sharp image is a tripod. It is absolutely essential to use a tripod or similar camera support when shooting jewelry. A sturdy tripod is better than a flimsy one, but any tripod is many times better than no tripod. Use a tripod.
 
Lighting
 
Another key to good jewelry photography is the lighting. Normally diffuse (soft) lighting works best for jewelry. You have probably already discovered that an on-camera flash does not lead to good jewelry photos. Not only is the camera’s flash too bright at such a close distance, but it is probably in the wrong position to actually light up the jewelry properly. An on camera flash will also create harsh and distracting shadows. Rather than flash, I like to use continuous lighting for product photography. Using continuous lights makes it easier to visualize what the final image will be like. I prefer daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs for lighting. These bulbs provide nice, natural-colored light and they produce very little heat so they can be left on for long photo sessions without over heating the photographer and everything else in the room. Even fluorescent light bulbs will need to be diffused and for that I, again, use a light tent as the diffuser. A small light tent makes it easy to reduce glare and control shadows for jewelry photography.
 
Exposure
 
Proper exposure is also a key to good jewelry photography. If your background is actually white but appears grey in your image or if everything in your image appears darker than you would like, the image has been underexposed. It doesn’t mean you need more lights or bigger lights, it means you need to let more light get to your camera’s image sensor.
 
The most likely reason not enough light is getting to the camera’s image sensor is that the camera’s auto exposure mechanism has set the exposure too low. The camera’s auto exposure system doesn’t expect to see a very light background. Since it assumes the background is grey rather than white, it exposes the image to achieve a grey background rather than a white background. The result is that everything in the image appears darker than it should.
 
The solution is quite simple. Adjust your camera’s exposure compensation setting to slightly overexpose the image. [Nearly every digital camera has an exposure compensation setting, but you may need to read your camera’s user manual to find how to adjust yours]. Once you locate the controls for exposure compensation simply increase the exposure until the image looks correct. When photographing against a white background you will normally need to increase the exposure by about 1 to 1 1/3. (Camera makers make this confusing by labeling the exposure adjustment setting as EV, Exposure Value.)
 
If you are comfortable with photography and understand how the camera’s aperture and shutter speed affect the exposure, you will want to pay attention to how the camera adjusts the exposure. If the camera increases the aperture it will decrease the depth of field.
 
A quick review:
  1. In order to ensure your images are sharp, make sure you know how to focus your camera. Digital cameras with auto focus are often difficult to focus precisely, especially when shooting small objects. Read your owner’s manual and be sure you understand how your camera’s auto focus operates. Most digital cameras are designed to easily focus on large objects but have difficulty on small subjects.
  2. Use a tripod, even the slightest movement when you are taking a picture will cause motion blur. The closer you get to an object the more obvious the motion blur becomes. Even an inexpensive tripod will make a big difference in the sharpness of your images. If you are going to be shooting a lot of images, it makes sense to invest in a good, stable tripod.
  3. To get the largest area of your subject in focus put your camera in aperture priority mode and set the aperture to the highest number possible.
  4. Use soft lighting. Your camera’s built-in flash will rarely give good results for product photography. For soft lighting either shoot outside on an overcast day or use a light tent or soft box.
  5. Use imaging software. Even inexpensive software like Photoshop Elements™ can make product photography much easier. It may seem like it’s faster to use an image exactly as it was shot. But in reality, it is difficult to shoot an image exactly how you would like it to appear in it’s final form. Imaging software allows you to crop an image, resize it, adjust the exposure, and even sharpen the image less than 60 seconds.
I hope this help a little bit in your quest to take great jewelry photos.

http://www.bizymoms.com/ideas/photo_silver_jewlery.html

5 Top Tips for Better Plant and Flower Photography

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 It’s high summer in many parts of the world, so a great time to work on your plant and flower photography skills now that everything in the garden is lovely. The beauty of garden photography is that you don’t need too much in the way of specialist lenses or equipment, and even if you live in a high-rise apartment in the middle of a city, public parks are gardens are not usually too far away. Read on for some blooming brilliant photography tips!
 

1) Get the Timing Right


In this image I hadn't noticed the shaddows of grass falling on the petals and spoiling the shot
Shadows cast on the blue petals have spoiled this shot

In high summer, the light can be very harsh on a cloudless sunny day, so as with landscape photography, it makes sense to do your photography as early as possible. The light is lovely and mellow first thing, and you won’t need to use a reflector so much to reduce the impact of harsh shadows. Apart from harsh light, the other big headache is the breeze, so invest in a Wimberley Plamp to keep the flowers still, or a similar device.
 

2) Use a Tripod


25 astrantia major claret

While you might not want to lug your tripod around the garden, they help you to fine tune your composition and experiment with creative effects, such as shooting with a very narrow aperture for maximum depth of field. They also free-up one of your hands so you can use a reflector to bounce nice light back on to the petals. Consider using a scrim too, which softens the light and makes your subjects appear to glow.
 

3) Be a Perfectionist


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While it can take you longer, it’s well worth seeking out perfect specimens – or as perfect as you can find. Damaged petals, whether damaged by water or the effects of insects, will be painfully obvious if you are shooting close up, and can take ages to fix in Photoshop.
 

4) Shoot from a Variety of Angles


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Flower and plant photography is not just about close-ups with macro lenses. If you wish to sell your garden images, or promote them on your blog, it’s best to get a range of perspectives, from an opening ‘establishing’ shot to a very detailed close-up. It is a good idea to shoot flowerbeds at an angle when using a zoom lens; this will compress the border and make plants in the background appear further forward. If you are taking a wider angle shot of a large expanse of garden, consider adding some kind of attractive foreground interest to lead the eye in – but make sure it’s not distracting clutter like garden rubbish!
 

5) Choose your Lenses Carefully


61 acer leaves

A couple of zoom lenses, covering both wide angle to medium telephoto up to 200mm, should suffice for general garden images. For flower close-ups, a 100mm to 200mm macro lens fits the bill. When using a zoom lens, try using its widest aperture, then extending the zoom to its greatest length.  This will give you the smallest depth of field possible with that lens and can lead to some very creative photographs.
 
 

In-Depth Photography Tips for Your Blog

Whether you need help with shooting your images at optimum times, resizing photos, lens jargon or even help on how to make that image just look super perfect in the moment, I’m adding my 2 cents to the already long list of Photography Tips on the web, and have come up with my own  quick-fix guide to show you how to achieve the finish and detail you desire in all your photography.
 
Lenses: What do they do?
Lenses are a huge part of photography; essentially the lens does 80-90% of the work, the rest being the camera quality and your eye for the subject. For professional photographers, wide-angle lenses and telephoto portrait lenses are some of the best to go for, but if you’re looking for high-quality blog images, then there a few to look into.
18-55mm Lens – This is the standard lens that comes with most DSLR kits. A wide-angle mid-telephoto lens, this is perfect for capturing a lot of the environment around you and also zooming in close for detail shots. Most have image stabilisation features which allow the quality of your photographs to stay clear even if you jolt a little!
50mm Lens – The 50mm lens is designed to be the same as human vision due to it’s ‘normal’ focal length, and gives a beautiful blur to the items around the photographed subject. Great for low low light situations as it can reach a high aperture setting, it is also super sharp and is more compact and discreet. If you buy one lens, make it this one!
Telephoto Lens – A specific lens that has a shorter physical length than the length of focus; the higher the mm number, the more times you can zoom in to the subject – even if you’re far away, you can still get amazing quality! The main point of telephoto lenses is to be able to focus on a subject when you can’t (or shouldn’t, you paps!) and still get clear, crisp photos. Word of warning, the higher the number, the more likely you’ll get camera shake!
Pancake Lens – A short-barrelled lens that is compact and flat, and refers for to the shape of the lens rather than the image created. Just like the 50mm, they are fixed-focused and range from 20mm-40mm in length. There is some speculation on the image quality, however, using it for fashion shots on the street is a perfect shout.

RAW vs JPEG: What’s the big deal?
It’s a pretty big deal! JPEG is a compressed and processed version of your photo, easy to upload but not easy to edit – you won’t be able to work out those shadows without making another part of the image look odd, and there won’t be as much detail as the camera will have balanced it out and set it for you as designed by their settings. RAW is the raw information of the image captured; it is essentially the full detail and quality of everything you captured in the frame, uncompressed and unprocessed which allows you more freedom to edit and adjust the details of your picture more. They can appear flat or dark, but they are much easier to lift and edit on Photoshop or Lightroom due to having all the available information intact from the initial shot.

Basically JPEG processes your image within the camera so it is ready to use straight away, making detailed editing harder. There is less detail available and a flatter image produced. RAW is the rawest form of an image, with all the detail available and captured without being compressed – this is why it’s a large file and takes up more space on your memory card. There is more freedom with editing, and more clarity in the finished product. For blog images, RAW is great as you can minimalise shadows more, capture detail in products or subjects, and you can create a more professional finish with little effort. JPEG is still a great method, it works well for holiday pictures and blog photos, but if you want to make your photos look good a certain way, try shooting in RAW.

How to use Manual: ISO / F-Stops / Aperture in Detail
Let’s break this down: ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light – the higher the ISO, the more light it will pick up in an image, and the lower it is the more shadows that are pronounced. Aperture is the hole in which the light comes through the camera – the smaller the number (F1.4) the larger the hole. Aperture also controls the Depth of Field, so a small aperture creates a larger depth of field and vice versa. Shutter Speed (1/600s) is how long it takes for the camera to open and close on a shot, and how quickly the image is taken. Slow shutter speed (1/30) creates a blur but makes fast moving objects look very soft and fluid, whilst a high SS (1/1000) creates a crisp, clear image, perfect for action shots.

Below is a photo taken on different settings, where the ISO, Aperture and F-stop have been changed accordingly to fit the environment.
 
As you can see, the first and last images are not that clear and are either too under or over-exposed, and this is all due to the camera settings. The first image is clearly under-exposed, with the ISO set to 3200, Aperture of F/4.5 and Shutter Speed of 1/800, meaning that there is a short amount of time between the shutter opening and closing, and the Aperture is only able to let in a small amount of light in the time it takes to capture the image.

This is because Aperture controls the amount of light that comes into the camera through the hole in the camera, whilst ISO sets the light sensitivity that the camera detects i.e. the higher the ISO, the more light it is able to pick up/expose (leading to brighter or duller images, and also noisier images which become grainier!), and Shutter Speed is how quickly the image is captured. All three of these work together to create a balanced image that suits your photography task.

The final image has the setting ISO 3200, F/4.5 and 1/40 S, which means that all the available light that has been detected by the camera’s sensitivity is exposed, and that through a slower shutter speed, more light is able to make it through the 4.5 sized hole to create a brighter – yet over-exposed – photo.

Using the [3-2-1-0-1-2-3] bar on your camera can help you see whether your image is balanced/slightly under/over-exposed during Manual settings. Manual in itself though is actually really easy, and not as scary as you’d think it is. Once you’ve mastered the above, you can easily switch your settings to fit the surroundings and create the finish you desire. The beauty of manual is that you can make images brighter, which means less editing, which means a quicker turn around! It also means you control the image, and you know exactly how it will turn out – especially the colour balance…

Colour Balance: Why are my images orange?
You probably notice an icon that says AWB, and then don’t loot at it again. This icon means Auto White Balance, and basically sets your camera to shoot in a specific light environment – e.g. if it’s dark and the lights are on, you’d select Tungsten Light which generally cancels out the overly orange tones but still doesn’t get rid of them fully. Changing the manual shoot settings can solve this, as usually more light will reduce the tones. If you have trouble, you can get special lenses that cancel out the tones or use Photoshop or PicMonkey to change the temperature of the image through editing.

Resizing Images – Why do my photos take so long to load?
I have two thoughts on the issue with resizing images – on one hand, the biggest thing that can slow down a webpage loading is the size of its images; anything over 1MB is pretty big and will leave you waiting a few more seconds until it’s all displayed, and can be a bit of a killjoy. It also can on some computers lead to your images suddenly enlarging and taking over the screen (however HTML can stop this from happening), so resizing your images to fit exactly the width of your post is a great idea. It looks clean, neat, and makes loading time a dream, and you can even go one step further and save your images for web (when saving your photos, there should be an option to Save For Web). This makes them optimised for web display, automatically adds alt tags and loads quickly too.

Capturing the Moment: How to Frame & Take Your Pictures
Whether it’s a holiday snap or a product review photo, you want the image to look its best. Composition and the rule of thirds is a big, big, big deal. Breaking it down quickly, your image frame is made up of 3×3 equal squares (you can shoot on your cameras with a grid effect, and this is essentially the rule of thirds!) and how the subjects within the frame are positioned is really key. Our brain reads things with balance, so a more aesthetically pleasing image is one that is balanced within the grid.

Here’s an example…
 

The image on the top left is slightly off, not fitting equally within the frame, and kinda feels a bit meh to look at – not much thought has gone into the set up but it’s an okay start. The top right hand image is our left one cropped and moved within the frame to make it sit equally, and instantly it looks much more thought out and easy to view. I know this can sound a bit much, however if you want your images to capture people’s attention, then you yourself have to pay attention to the details in your image frame. Don’t make the taking of the picture all about it fitting in the frame, as you can see above that a crop and resizing can completely transform the final product – get tweaking and you’ll be amazed by the results.

The Magic Hour: Lighting; Not Witchcraft, Just Science!
Lighting is one of the biggest things in photography, and now that we’re heading into Spring there’s finally more light hours in the day to capture our images. I have both studio lights and use natural light, however I prefer the latter for my photos as it’s a lot lighter, clearer and bright. Studio lights are great when you want to control an environment or have continuous illumination on a subject, however you can get that edge that looks unnatural – 100% you’re own preference though!

If you do use natural light, then the best times to shoot are about 10am to 5pm as the sun reaches the higher points in the sky and isn’t as bright or yellow as it is in the mornings. For atmospheric shots, there is the ‘Magic Hour’ or ‘Golden Hour’, which occurs just after sunrise or before sunset where the sun is still high but the sky turns red – this is due to a drop in the lighting ratio as more of the light comes indirectly from the sun. This is contrasted by the midday sun, which can be quite harsh but gives lots of shadows and highlights and can cause overexposure.

When taking photos in natural light, there are some clever quick tips you have to try that make your images look even clearer than normal:
Bounce light back in with a mirror – just like a reflector, but you’re more likely to have one at home! This bounces light reflected into the room back into the subject, making it clearer and brighter. Take your photos facing the light – by facing the light, you allow all features of the subject to be illuminated and seen clearly, whilst blocking the sun will create shadow and an overcast. If it’s a bright day, take your photos in the shade – but have the sun facing you! Just like the previous point, facing the sun is great however a bright day causes bleaching and over-exposure, so stand in a shady spot to keep the light balanced but face the direction of the sun to keep the image bright overall. Bright and light backgrounds will add more light in – whether it’s a white table, a painted board, marbled tray or some paper, a light colour will reflect light back into the subject and camera, keeping the subject interesting and eye-catching when people scroll by.
 
 
Photography can seem daunting, but when you break it down it’s pretty easy to implement into your daily camera life. Whether you shoot on your iPhone or a big DSLR, all these tips can help make your shots become strong pieces of work that grab attention. Utilise light, materials you have at home, and play around with Manual settings, make the process fun and creative and find your flair to reflect your blog and photo style!
 
 

Food Photography – An Introduction

Food Photography
Interested in learning about Food Photography? Read on for some introductory tips.
 
Visit any bookshop and head for the cook book section and you’ll be overwhelmed by the array of books filled with scrumptious recipes accompanied by wonderful photography of the meals being written about.
 
Colorful stacks of vegetables drizzled with rich sauces on a clean white plate with glistening table settings – you know the shots.
 
Sometimes the photography is almost the true focus of the book with the recipes taking a secondary role.
 
But how do you photograph food and get such great results?
 

1. Lighting

 
Treat the food you’re photographing as you would any other still life subject and ensure that it is well lit. Many of the poor examples of food photography that I’ve come across in the research for this article could have been drastically improved with adequate lighting. One of the best places to photograph food is by a window where there is plenty of natural light – perhaps supported with flash bounced off a ceiling or wall to give more balanced lighting that cuts out the shadows. This daylight helps to keep the food looking much more natural.
 

2. Props


Pay attention not only to the arrangement of the food itself but to the context that you put it in including the plate or bowl and any table settings around it. Don’t clutter the photo with a full table setting but consider one or two extra elements such as a glass, fork, flower or napkin. These elements can often be placed in secondary positions in the foreground or background of your shot.
 
Photographing-Food

3. Be Quick


Food doesn’t keep it’s appetizing looks for long so as a photographer you’ll need to be well prepared and able to shoot quickly after it’s been cooked before it melts, collapses, wilts and/or changes color. This means being prepared and knowing what you want to achieve before the food arrives. One strategy that some use is to have the shot completely set up with props before the food is ready and then to substitute a stand-in plate to get your exposure right. Then when the food is ready you just switch the stand-in plate with the real thing and you’re ready to start shooting.
 

4. Style it


The way food is set out on the plate is as important as the way you photograph it. Pay attention to the balance of food in a shot (color, shapes etc) and leave a way into the shot (using leading lines and the rule of thirds to help guide your viewer’s eye into the dish). One of the best ways to learn is to get some cook books to see how the pros do it.
 

5. Enhance it

 
One tip that a photographer gave me last week when I said I was writing this was to have some vegetable oil on hand and to brush it over food to make it glisten in your shots.
 
Food-Photo

6. Get Down Low

 
A mistake that many beginner food photographers make is taking shots that look down on a plate from directly above. While this can work in some circumstances – in most cases you’ll get a more better shot by shooting from down close to plate level (or slightly above it).
 

7. Macro

 
Really focusing in upon just one part of the dish can be an effective way of highlighting the different elements of it.
 

8. Steam


Having steam rising off your food can give it a ‘just cooked’ feel which some food photographers like. Of course this can be difficult to achieve naturally. I spoke with one food stylist a few years back who told me that they added steam with a number of artificial strategies including microwaving water soaked cotton balls and placing them behind food. This is probably a little advanced for most of us – however it was an interesting trick so I thought I’d include it.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Jewelry Photography

If you are interested in jewelry photography, chances are you have already been involved in other styles of photography. You have probably quickly learned that there are several techniques utilized for photographing different types of objects or subjects so that the results deliver the most optimal, sharp, colorful and detailed image possible.
 
Photo Credit Gnilenkov Aleksey 
 
Additionally, different types of cameras and equipment can also be utilized for various subjects, and this also holds true with jewelry photography. It is not necessarily important to spend thousands on a camera and related equipment to capture dramatic shots; what is important are the techniques involved, which can mean the difference between jewelry that appears flat and unremarkable, and a piece that sparkles and dazzles the eye.
 
Getting the shot right every time takes practice. When shooting jewelry, there are some basic rules that should always be followed. It is important to find ways to ensure that there is no glare and that shadows are minimized. Additionally, jewelry often appears best against a clean background of a neutral color, or a background that best compliments the piece. There are also different props that can be used to better display pieces such as necklaces, earrings or bracelets.
 
Basic Rules for a Great Shot
 
Photo Credit Gnilenkov Aleksey

 There are three critical components to a ensuring a great photo:
 
  1. Lighting
  2. Focus
  3. Exposure
 
Understanding how each of these affects a photo and learning how best to use them to your advantage will enable you to take professional, high quality shots worthy of any major magazine pictorial or advertising campaign.
  
Lighting Essentials
 
Examining lighting first, there are essential pieces of equipment that you’ll want to obtain. These include:
 
Light Tent
 
 
Photo Credit Alison Christine

 
This item is a cube-like stand that is open on the side in which you will be placing and photographing the pieces. The EZcube light tent is one of the more popular light tents available. The purpose of the light tent is to provide you with a soft light setting, and helps to control reflections and interference from other light sources and shadows in the room.
 
A new EZcube design also allows you to hang items such as necklaces from the center if you don’t have to utilize a prop to hold them. Light tents are available in various sizes.
 
Backdrops
 
Basic colored backdrops to rest jewelry upon or use as a background. White and black are most typical, but other colors might add a more dramatic effect to certain pieces. Materials include cloth, acrylic, and others. The acrylic can be used to add a nice reflection effect to the photo.
 
A Tabletop Light Set
 
 
Photo Credit Hozae

 
There are a wide variety of lights to choose from, and some that add more effects to specific types of jewelry, but the most basic lights you will definitely want to acquire are a set of floodlights that utilize daylight color CFL bulbs. These bulbs are designed to provide a soft, simulated natural daylight lighting effect, which helps to eliminate the need for color correction most of the time. An additional benefit of the CFL bulbs is that they are designed to produce much less heat than other bulbs.
 
  • Tip: Using the tabletop light set also eliminates the need for using the flash on your camera, which typically does not lead to great photos when shooting jewelry. The flash is too bright and adds harsh shadows or contrast to the jewelry when shooting so closely.
  • Tip: Try to get adjustable stands for your lights as well, so that you can position them correctly for the various pieces.
 
How to Position Your Lights
 
Many light sets come with only two lights, and that is really all that is necessary to get a good shot. Don’t be fooled into purchasing a larger set by thinking that more lights means a better shot. There may very well be instances in the future where you may want to add a third light, but for now, two is standard and feasible.
 
Simply place a light on either side of your light tent, and aim the lights at the jewelry so that any glare is eliminated and your piece is presented in a flattering manner.
 
  • Tip: Using a stronger light on one side can sometimes produce a more dramatic effect. If you do not have another light that is more powerful, you can try simply moving one light closer to the piece.
 
Additional Lighting Accessories and Options
 
There are other lights and bulbs that may be purchased that will enable you to produce more dramatic effects in your shots with specific pieces of jewelry, such as diamonds and gems, in which you really want to accentuate the facets. If you really plan on getting the most from your shots, you may want to invest in a few of these lights, such as the Diamond Dazzler LED bulb.
 
  • Tip: Make sure that the bulbs in use in all your light sources are consistent in model and color or you may have trouble getting a shot without odd coloring.
  • Tip: You can purchase lighting kits containing all of the above elements, instead of getting each component individually. If you are just beginning to get involved in jewelry photography, purchasing a kit can be an economical and easy introduction to the equipment.
 
Photo Credit Davedehetre

 
Focus Basics
 
Focus is of course an important element of all photography, especially when shooting jewelry, in which you really want to capture the detail. One of the biggest agitators of good focus is an unsteady hand. Even the slightest movement can cause you to lose a significant amount of detail in your shot. So it is important to invest in a tripod for your camera.
 
Camera Focus Settings
 
Almost all cameras available on the market today come with several different focus settings. When shooting close-ups of jewelry, you’ll more often than not want to be able to manually focus your camera or utilize a “spot focus” mode. This enables the camera to focus solely on the jewelry at the center of your shot, with a reduction in interference from other surrounding details and items. Using the manual focus will grant you the most control.
 
The Best Camera?
 
 
Photo Credit CloudsCarsCameras.com

 
There really is no right answer to this question. Keep in mind that focus is one of the most important components of jewelry photography, so a digital camera that offers you a true manual focus is definitely going to be important criteria when you attempt to choose. For true manual focus, look for cameras described as SLR cameras. These types of cameras often allow for lenses to be changed as well, which can come in handy as you grow your profession and aim to take more diverse types of shots.
 
Additional criteria or options to look for:
 
 
Photo Credit Andrewrennie
 
  • Small aperture – enables a wider area of focus
  • A lens or ability to use lenses with macro focuses – enables you to shoot close-ups with more precision and won’t interfere with lighting by being too close
  • Fitting for a tripod
  • At least 10 megapixels
  • Remote shutter release – reduces the amount of blur that may occur, even with the use of a tripod
  • Capability to easily connect the camera to a computer to upload and adjust photos if necessary
 
Exposure Basic
 
Photo Credit Paparutzi

The ability to control your camera’s exposure value (EV) is an important element in ensuring your jewelry photos are not too dark or too light. Because most cameras automatically compensate for shooting subjects set against very bright backgrounds, you will need to manually adjust your camera’s EV in order to ensure that you take the best possible shot.
 
You can begin by using the preset EV settings on your camera to see the results, and then select the setting that appears to deliver the most detailed, well-lit shot, without appearing too dark or washed out. As you gain more experience using your camera and become more familiar with the lighting equipment, you will quickly be able to determine the best EV setting for certain shots without having to experiment.
 
Using Photo Imaging Software to Fix Lighting and Exposure
 
Sometimes, even with the right EV settings, the right lighting, and the right focus, you may still get an image that needs a little work in order for it to be perfect. This is where photo image editing software such as Photoshop can save the day and make a good shot great.
 
Tip: Adobe Photoshop is the most popular and widely used software, but you may able to achieve excellent results with the editing options on your own camera, or on your photo layout program such as Apple’s iPhoto, which allows for a wide suite of corrections.
 
Using image editing software, you can adjust lighting levels, contrast, sharpness, color balance, color saturation, and much more to really produce an image that “wows”.
 
There are of course many other aspects of jewelry photography that you will discover with experience, but understanding these basics and learning how to utilize the equipment and your camera properly will ensure that you are well on your way to capturing great images.
 
 

Glass Photography

Nothing can make you quite as crazy as a photographer than glass.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult things to photograph really well.
 
Glass is a nightmare for a camera.  It reflects everything, it displays bizarre catch lights and can seem nearly impossible to focus properly.
 
And yet you won’t be a professional photographer very long, particularly in advertising photography, before you’re confronted with a job involving glass.
 
 
Soft side lighting and a frosty glass to dampen catch lights – photo by Kristofer2

The temptation is to get frustrated and figure you’ll take care of the imperfections in post processing.
 
When you get there you’ll discover that glass is nearly as insanely difficult to get right in post as it is in the studio.  So your best bet is to shoot right in the studio and minimize the post corrections.
 
The first step is cutting down as much ambient light as possible.  That means dark backgrounds and draping your stand in black.
 
The next step is lighting.  A studio flash with a modeling light works for me.  The two best angles for lighting glass are directly above and directly behind and below the image plane.  That will yield consistently good photographs, provided the glass is empty or the liquid nearly clear.
 
Liquids add a whole new dimension.  First, you have to figure out how to get it in the glass without splashing the sides.  Try that sometime.  I experimented for quite a while before going down to the hardware store and buying a small hand pump.  You can also use a cardboard tube from a paper towel roll and pour the liquid into that (I don’t recommend drinking it afterwards).
 
For this type of shoot you’ll need to use some type of table top box like an EZcube.  You can get both dark and gradient backgrounds for your EZcube and it will save you a huge amount of trouble.
 
Place a light on each side of the soft side panels and you’ll get a great look almost every time.  Swap in a dark background for clear glass.
 
For clear glass on a gradient, you’ll need some dark paper rolls at the bottom to keep the bottom of the glass from disappearing into the lighter part of the gradient.  It cuts down the on the light from the sides and the glass will pick up black highlights, just enough to separate it from the light gradient.
 
With colored glass you have it made.  Put a gray gradient in your EZcube and you’ll be done in 20 minutes.  That will yield adequate results but if you really want to make colored glass pop, you’ll need another tool of the trade.
 
Another secret to shooting glass is having a daylight balanced flat panel.  It’s worth the investment as you’ll be using it for jewelry and other small objects.  Use it in or out of your EZcube and you’ll discover it adds really nice highlights to your glass subjects.
 
Even with the right gear, you’ll still find glass objects present constant challenges.  Just keep at it, and you’ll eventually learn how to turn in some amazing shots.
 
 

Four Steps Of Product Photography – Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product Photos

1. Prepare Product


To take quality photographs, the complexity and time required will depend greatly on the type of product you’re shooting. Some of the easiest products to photograph are solid objects such as cups and toys; you may just have to give them a good polish before shooting.
 
Clothing, textiles and other items that can bend, stretch and wrinkle are much harder to photograph and could require hours of ironing and arranging to get a perfect result. Details, like whether a shirt collar is straight, will determine whether the photographs look like they were shot in a serious studio or by an amateur with a point-and-shoot camera.
 
Whatever the product, inspect it carefully for tears, stains, chips and other imperfections before beginning.
 

2. Light


To get a great-looking photo, lighting is crucial. Fortunately, with many products, you don’t need much equipment to get a well-lit balanced exposure. For objects the size of a digital camera or smaller, you can use an EZcube® light tent with two small 30-watt bulbs on either side. For larger items, such as clothing, two 60-watt soft boxes on either side of the product should suffice. Also consider using a light reflector to get rid of any shadows and obvious highlights.
 

EZcube: TableTop Studio

Kuhl Lite: TableTop Studio
 

3. Set Your Camera


Watch out for noticeable light reflections on shiny surfaces. Even though most product photos look very staged, you don’t want yours to look too artificial.
 
Obviously, you’ll need a camera to take pictures, so make sure you have one. It doesn’t have to be the best or most expensive on the market, but it should at least have manual focus and shutter and aperture controls. These are all standard on most SLR cameras.
 
Once you’ve arranged the product and lighting equipment, take a few test shots until you get an exposure that isn’t too bright or too dark. Keep track of the shutter speed and aperture settings of your best photos, and use them again in future to maintain consistency. If you aren’t sure how things like shutter speed, aperture and lens focal length affect images, you might want to do some basic research.
 
If you understand the basics of photography but your photos still don’t look quite right, don’t worry, because you may have to change several in-camera settings before getting the kind of shots you want.
 
If your pictures look soft or don’t enlarge well, make sure the ISO setting on your camera is as low as possible. The ISO setting affects the light sensitivity of a camera’s photo sensor. By setting yours to 100 or 200, you’ll get a higher-resolution shot with less grain and pixellation. While you’re at it, change the camera’s image size to the highest possible setting. Most cameras default to a medium-sized resolution (around 1500 x 850 pixels).
 
Next, make sure the white balance is set to handle the kind of light you’re working in. Most cameras have modes for incandescent, fluorescent, direct sunlight and cloudy environments, and you should adjust your camera’s white balance according to these different conditions. If the white balance controls are off, your images might either look too bright or have a sickly yellow cast, especially if your product is white.
 
Color control settings are important to consider as well. Most digital cameras allow you to select several degrees of color saturation, ranging from muted to normal to vibrant. If your product is already colorful (flowers, for example), a less saturated setting would probably work better. This is especially true with red, which many digital cameras (even high-end ones) have difficulty processing.
 
Finally, make sure the image format is appropriate. If you’re just putting the photos online, high-resolution JPEGs are probably fine. RAW files, on the other hand, carry more data because they aren’t compressed like JPEG or TIFF files, and they carry fewer digital artifacts; but they take up more space and require special codices and converters to be viewed and edited. Some cameras have a “RAW + high-res JPEG” setting, which gives you both compressed and uncompressed versions of an image. Do a little research on your camera when deciding which format to use, because some models are automatically set to give a softer focus in JPEG mode.
 

4. Edit the Photos


This is the final and perhaps most important step of product photography. This is when you really take your photos to the next level and make them pop. If you’ve gotten the lighting right and your camera properly configured, then you are well on your way to great photos. Factors such as unwanted colors and objects that couldn’t be removed during the shoot, though, will require some adjustment.
 
Surrounding a product in white space is common practice. This makes the photo convenient to use on websites and in catalogs because it won’t clash with other elements. To make a product float freely in white space, you have to remove the background with masking in your photo editing program. As common as it is, it is often done poorly, making an otherwise fine photo look amateurish. Masking properly takes time, especially when you are not working with straight lines. Photoshop CS4 has a great “Refine edge” tool that makes it much easier to correct crooked lines.
 
Many people also use a variety of artistic effects in Photoshop and other bitmap editors to subtly manipulate their photos. One such effect is the soft or selective focus, which, as the name implies, softens a portion of the photo while leaving other areas sharp. This is great for creating the illusion of depth and size, and the trick is often used for pictures of food, jewelry and watches (see the examples above). Depending on your lens, you can get a similar in-camera effect by setting the aperture low and zooming in on the product from a distance.
 
Also, depending on the product and the look you’re aiming for, you could also experiment with the perspective controls in Photoshop. Most people assume this tool is only good for tall buildings and scenes with noticeable vanishing points, but you can also use it to make geometric objects such as tables and desks appear overpowering, especially when photographed from a low angle.

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/08/24/improve-your-e-commerce-design-with-brilliant-product-photos/