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Day 215: Getting a Mouth-Watering Food Shot

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Yesterday, I blogged about the new travel photography ebook from Beers and Beans — and I ranted and raved about it. For $9.99, I honestly think you can’t get a better starter photography book than this, and one that has the traveler in mind, as well.

To further prove my point, I decided to put some of the food photo tips to test at my lunch on day 215, and let’s just say that I am really happy with the final result. This is nothing fancy, but it just shows how a little knowledge goes a long way.

In the ebook, Beth mentions that a big part of travel is food, and having those images fresh and clear are going to help create mouth-watering blog posts.

Composition

The first example here (of my stew) just shows how composition plays a big role in what we see in a photo. The first photo has too much going on, so there is a lot of tension with our eyes as they try to figure out what to focus on:

photo 1 clutter

This photo is way too busy, so we don't know what to focus on.

I took Beth’s tip of placing key objects (not a big clutter) in the background to help create a more unique shot. Again, this is nothing fancy (I did it on my lunch break). I feel the first photo below has the elements that could be interesting… but they just aren’t framed well. I easily fixed this by doing a little bit of cropping on the computer after the photo session. Easy!

crop example

Notice how the 2nd photo draws your eye to the bowl instead of the shiny countertop as in the first one. Still not the best photo, but the crop does make it better.

This may not be the mouth-watering shot I was going for (stew is just not fun to photograph in its gelatinous monotony). However, the photo itself is much more visually pleasing.

Lighting

Another good tip when taking food photos is the use of lighting. Beth suggests natural light to be the best for taking food photos, so I placed my peanut butter crackers (I was working with minimal ingredients today) on the edge of a table with a streak of sunlight hitting it.

In the first photo below, you can see how the sunlight lights one side of the food. I grabbed a piece of white paper that was on the counter and used it to bounce light onto the other side of the food for more even lighting.

crackers lighting

The first photo has light hitting on one side, creating shadows on some of the food. In the second photo, I use a piece of white paper to bounce light onto the other as well.

As you can see, the shots below are well-lit and close enough to see the textures of the peanut butter and raisins, almost as if you are looking at them on the table in front of you. That’s how you get a mouth-watering food shot.

crackers and peanut butter

Now doesn't that look yummy.

crackers and peanut butter raisins

I'm so American.

As I’ve stated before on my blog, I am not a brilliant photographer, but I think the simple lighting and composition tips used above will do wonders when it comes to sharing food posts for the world to enjoy.

These are but a couple of the numerous photography tips you can find in the “Getting Out of Auto” ebook, so if you learned something, you might want to consider purchasing the entire guide. Cheers!

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8 Responses to Day 215: Getting a Mouth-Watering Food Shot

  1. Tony August 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    I’d like to see a perfectly composed, mouth-watering food shot at Pie Face :)g

    • Tony August 4, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      The ‘g’ is an unwelcome typo 🙁

    • Brooke August 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

      mmm gelatinous pie goodness

  2. Bethany August 5, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Brooke this is amazing!!! I’m just seeing this now but going to read this entire thing – I love it!!! So glad it helped you too. 🙂

  3. JoAnna August 12, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    You might be interested to know that food photography has become so popular that there are a few restaurants in Las Vegas now offering “photography boxes,” which have the perfect lighting to take photos of plated dishes.

    • Bethany August 14, 2011 at 4:04 am #

      really? That’s crazy. Do you know which ones?

  4. Mack Reynolds August 30, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    I’ve gotta say, those peanut butter crackers look rather tasty. And I totally get what you’re saying about the picture being too busy. Good post.

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