Felt overwhelmed by camera LR PS and lighting

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by redbourn, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Haven't posted for a few months because I felt overwhelmed with trying to learn so many things at the same time.

    In the meantime I did some lighting tutorials, learned more about how to use my D3300 and also did PS and LR tutorials and tried to take on board all the tips that I got here.

    Started trying again a few days ago.

    The hamburger shot I did last night and it might need cropping.

    The chicken shot tonight.

    Comments on how to move forward would be very welcome.

    Michael
    burger and fries and aragula-1.JPG braised chicken curry-1.JPG


     
  2. Rafterman

    Rafterman No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What exactly would you like to move forward with? Are you just looking for us to critique your pictures? If that's the case, then yes, the burger plate could be shot from a little higher angle to get more of the fries in there. Plus, it would also benefit from some cropping and/or recomposing so that there's less empty space on the top and the left of the frame. The chicken plate looks sharp and well-composed, but the plaid table cloth bits in the upper corners bother me and they pull my attention away from that good looking meal. I would go with a more plain looking table cloth. Maybe not white, but a neutral color that still shows the edges of the plate, but won't pull my eyes away from the food like the plaid does. Naturally, this is all just my opinion. Others may see these photos a different way.

    You're clearly taking your time learning things this time around, because those pics look quite nice! The D3300 is a great camera. My first DSLR was a D3100 that I enjoyed thoroughly before moving to the D7000 and now D500. Keep up the good work!
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I would say, "Learn focus stacking techniques". That would move your food photography game forward.
     
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  4. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'm thinking you should consider food styling. Food photographers will use a variety of plating (different colors, different materials such as wood or even cutting boards, etc. baskets, etc.) and they'll have a variety of napkins, patterns, table surfaces (distressed wood, stone, etc.), they'll also have interesting utensils (cutlery, serving spoons, etc.) glasses, platters, bowls, etc. They'll have garnishes, flowers & ornamental items.

    So for example... what if the fries were in a small wire basket and propped up? What if rice was packed into a mold (a simple metal ring). What if one piece of chicken were propped up on the other piece of chicken? What would it look like if the chicken was resting on the sauce instead of having the sauce ladled over the top?

    Also how & when you plate makes a difference. If you bring out the food first... then by the time you've got everything set, lighting worked out, etc. then the food is going to look like it's been sitting around for a while. When I've done food photography, I grab a bowl of fake fruit as my "stand in" and I work out the lighting and exposure, style the place setting, etc. When we're ready, we'll get the food fresh from the kitchen... but things degrade quickly. We have extra fresh garnish on the side (it will go limp quickly... after a minute or two it's not looking as good). Usually the plate gets sauced (not the food) with some styling and the food is carefully placed on that. Basically you're trying to avoid the appearance that the food has been sitting on the plate for a while.

    A few utility items are useful to own... namely a pair of giant tweezers. When you're trying to place an item in exactly the perfect spot without upsetting anything else on the plate, it's nice a tool for that. A few other tools such as scissors and a few brushes (paint brushes) can be helpful (to nip off things that get in the way or to "brush" a sauce or juices onto a piece of food (or brush away something that shouldn't be there.)

    I may have posted this previously (years ago), but this is some food photography I did for a local restaurant.

    [​IMG]
    Eggplant on the Run
    by Tim Campbell, on Flickr

    Some points about this... notice it's not just a plate of food... I've got a blue water bottle, a tiny bud vase with a few flowers, a wine glass and a bottle of wine, a napkin (with a knife on it).

    Rationally, I picked blue because on a color wheel... blue is opposite gold and the fries and bread have a golden color ... so they place nicely together. The wine in the glass is NOT actually from that wine bottle. The wine bottle in the back is actually not even open. This is a restaurant so that's just an inexpensive house-pour wine to provide the color.

    Notice the sandwich is (a) cut open and (b) not laying flat but rather one half is propped up on the other half and this exposes more of the food ... but it does create a dark shadow area on the plate... which we HIDE by putting a garnish of carrot in front of it (also used to provide some color). The fries are not laid flat on the plate, but rather in that wire basket.

    Though it doesn't necessarily look it... the place setting is pushed together a bit more cramped than you'd place it in real life. It all needed to look a bit cozy and inviting and a typical place setting would be spread out enough that I'd have to back the camera away to capture everything and then the food would look to small.

    This was shot using a 100mm lens (it happens to be a macro lens even though this isn't macro photography) and I'm using f/4 to give me nice focus on the food, but deliberately blur the background (specifically I wanted that wine label blurred enough to not be a distraction). Also keep in mind that inexpensive flowers from the grocery store (because that's all these are) aren't going to be 'perfect' flowers, but the gentle amount of blur will hide all that... the flowers are recognizable as flowers and really are there to create the inviting look and provide a splash of color.

    I'm using soft-boxes but I also brought along a giant black table-cloth and some spring-clamps so I could use that to clamp over the windows. I needed to make sure that the REFLECTIONS on the water bottle, wine bottle, and wine glass where where I wanted them to be (otherwise the reflections were too strong). There are "dulling" sprays that can be used to dull the reflections on glass surfaces if you need to go that far.

    The forceps (tweezers)? I don't think I needed them here... but suppose after cutting that sandwich open, there was a spot that didn't look great ... maybe some lettuce isn't laying nicely... you can use the forceps to repair that and give it a primp to look good.

    Before doing this, I specifically looked for articles and videos specializing in food photography and styling ... it was really helpful. My original attempts at food photography were pretty bad.

    I would do a Google search for "food styling" and read the articles and look at the samples to get some ideas.
     
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  5. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thank you.

    Hadn't really thought about what I wanted, but yes, what I'd like is for my photos to be positively critiqued.
    Might seem selfish but I don't know enough about photography to offer advice to others.
    And thanks for the encouragement.

    Michael
     
  6. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks. I've put a few links to it on my desktop.
     
  7. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Beautiful photo.

    I will soon check out styling.

    I was checking out the best way to set up a tripod so all legs are equal length when you adjust the height! ;-)
     

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