Musings on Food Photography

Yesterday, I heard about this great event, Phototasting at Checkers. I already have plans or else I would have tried to make it since lately I’ve been working on my food photography. Plus, I like the food!

chicken confit from happy hour at Checkers

Although, I’ve come to terms that I’m not going to buy a fancy camera, I do want to still do the best/ most I can with the point and shoot I have. Immodestly, I like to think my photos are coming along.

First of all, I’ve learned to crop. Here’s my original pic from my very first food blog post, the squid from Ludobites.

And now cropped and the color reved up a bit.

Well, I think it looks better. Now you can tell there was that eggplant paper on top. The gay boyfriend was just telling me he’s famous because he’s in the background of nearly all my food pics. Not so, I’ve been cropping!

Then I learned to turn up the ISO when it’s dark and to  hold steady. I also discovered the macro setting. Still, sometimes when it’s super dark, I struggle with the flash question.

Oxtail cavatelli from Laxy Ox, taken with flash

and with no flash

Yes, the plate looks very stark white and ugly. But in my no flash photo, I can’t really tell what that pasta looks like. Well, I’ll keep playing around. My Lazy Ox post is a mish-mash of flash and no flash photos. I suppose I can also crop that pasta so it shows it better.

And from admiring other food pics, I learned about the all important angle.

Here’s the first time I ever had Ludo’s cheese tart. Nice pic but not very interesting to me now.

Of course, the plating is a bit nicer on this second one. It’s definitely more visually interesting. I am now rotating plates to get the best shot and angle. I used to take one quick pic and be done with it. Now I take a couple or even three (gasp!).

Although I don’t have photoshop, I’ve been playing around with what I do have, the basic software that came with my camera (a Canon powershot). When I first read this LA Weekly article on how to take food porn pics, I didn’t get it yet. Now, re-reading it today, I was able to apply the contrast and sharpness features to good use.

untouched pic of ahi burger from Umami

I thought this pic was pretty good but I didn’t use it in my post because I liked my shot of the onion rings better with the ahi burger peeking out behind them.

touched up pic of ahi burger

This is where I turned up the saturation and sharpness. A photographer friend explained to me that digitally touching up photos isn’t really “wrong” since during the days of film, they actually touched up photos as well.

So, now I’m wondering why I’m bothering since I’m not a food blogger. I’m a writer and artist. I see things in a different way. While I love food pics, I’m losing some of the context. It might look good but did it really taste good? What’s the background story? Who ate it? I like seeing other things in the shot. They don’t necessarily have to be in focus but it adds a lot to the visual appeal. I don’t mind the occasional dirty plate or utensils. It shows me people are eating and perhaps enjoying their meal.

spicy tuna on crispy rice

The reason why I didn’t use the above picture in my Maikobe post besides the fact it’s blurry, is it’s not that interesting to me.  Not when I have this great shot below.

spicy tuna on crispy rice, blogger style

My goodness! People eat food! People are going to eat these spicy tuna thingies after the food pictures are done.

So, while I’m not taking that class, I hope to get the most out of my camera learning on my own but maybe it would be a good thing because who wants identical pictures? If 5 other food bloggers and I (a non-food blogger but writer who likes to eat) take the exact same shot, what sets us apart?

Let the personality shine through the pictures.  And our words, of course.