Photos? For Us of for others?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by redbourn, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Photos? For Us of for others?

    Although I worked in the film industry for 35 years, I only really got into photography a few months ago because I'm compiling a cookbook.

    I bought a Nikon d3300 and a Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G lens and then bought a softbox, lights etc and started learning.

    So what's the problem?

    Well two things really.

    I have about 1200 Facebook friends and post photos to see what they like.

    They overwhelmingly prefer the photos that I don't care for or even like. They like very high contrast.

    I always like water colors more than oil paintings.

    But my photos are for a book. So should I use photos that I prefer or use ones that others prefer?

    The other issue is that they prefer photos shot on my phone to those shot on my Nikon.

    Below are two photos that they are raving about .

    "Best of your photos. Really great and makes me feel hungry". etc both shot on my phone.

    steak and grilled tomatoes.jpg

    steak and beans.jpg


    And a third photo which is more to my taste shot with the Nikon.

    A Basque Chicken Thigh And Vegetable Stew (2).jpg

    I'd love your feedback and comments.

    Thanks,

    Michael


     
  2. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Facebook is a bad place to look for photography advice, a lot of people on there don't have the first clue about photography and frequently like sub par shots.

    Saying that I'm going to contradict myself here and agree with them. Not because the first two shots are better technically, but they do contain more saturated colour on the food. The color of food is ascociated particularly in a lot of peoples minds with stronger flavour, muted colours can be linked with bland food. I think a stronger coloured sauce and much more colour on the meat would have made a big difference, particularly if you can get a bit of charring in there.

    Also in the shot with the cut steak we can see the pink middle and that makes it look glossy and juicy and tasty.
     
  3. runnah

    runnah Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    First two look low rent. The reason lots of food photos are on white is so that you focus on the food, not the plate.

    I agree tho that the third one could be more saturated.
     
  4. AlanKlein

    AlanKlein Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    They're cropped a little too tight. Leave a little breathing room. Your shot the third seems to have more normal colors while the first two. Those are saturated more and have greater contrast. Which is better is more personal taste (sorry ;)) Also, you should shoot from a tripod and go for more Depth of Field so that all the food is in focus by using with a smaller aperture. Google "how to take food pictures". There are some good recommendations by people in the business. I also would check with a pro who has made food books to check out their recommendations. Nice meals.
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    People expect certain things in certain places.
    Facebook people expect a certain type of photo and will flock to it without realising it. They might praise it highly or really love it; but were you to present it in a cop of National Geographic or down an art gallery they'd slash it to bits in seconds. It's an oddity of human behaviour that we sometimes expect things within certain niches or will vary our expressed viewpoint and initial impression of things to the environment in which they come not just the thing itself.

    I would argue that if you are producing a book then you want the best quality you can and should be true to your own creative vision. If you want to research what the "public" wants go look at other publications in the same market sector and see what the prize winning ones do there (try to avoid things by too high a profile celebrity as sometimes fame lets them get away with all kinds of things those with "lesser fame" could never do).

    I would agree that the second photo has better more even lighting; but that it does need something to lift the food off the plate. You've bascially slipped into an easy to fall into trap of evening and softening out the light so much that you've lost the natural shadows and contrast in the scene. This is why often you'll see studio setups where there is a clear difference in the light values either side of a subject - to create a subtle (or not so subtle) shadow to generate that contrast that we'd normally see in every day life.
     
  6. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I prefer your third shot over the first two, but the color is a little flat and I don't like that both the plate and table covering are white and there's nothing else in the image. More on that later.

    When I shoot food (and, btw, I am not expert on food photography), I ask myself "what am I trying to sell" (I'm not referring to the photography, but to the subject.)

    When I posted the food image in the other thread, that was just one of the images out of a shoot that I did for a restaurant. So while the restaurant wants to promote their food, they also want to promote the idea that you're coming in for the atmosphere -- the shot was intended to reflect the food and the atmosphere (hence you see there's a cloth napkin instead of a paper napkin, the wine & wine bottle convey the idea that they do have a wine list, etc.) Also I heavily cropped out the plate (my shot doesn't show the whole plate). The photo isn't intended to sell china and everybody knows what plates look like -- so there's no reason to show the entire plate... just a part of it is adequate. Anyway... this whole paragraph is meant to convey some questions you might ask yourself as you think about how you'd like to compose your food shots.

    I do think people will respond better to a little saturation in the food (if subtle... like seasoning... a little is nice, too much ruins it.)

    A "forks eye" view tends to look better than a "birds eye" view. But it also doesn't look creative if every shot has the same angle.

    In the same way that an "interior decorator" will set up a house to look appealing, a "food stylist" will do the same thing for the food and table setting. That means sometimes extra elements help the image -- especially elements with some style or character. These might be interesting looking food vessels, utensils, etc. It could be extra items on the table.

    I've seen articles by food photographers who will use the same type of "steamer" that might be used for garments or window treatments just to give that "freshly plated" look to the food. Sometimes a bit of steam sweat on the food, or some oil reflections will really help the food seem less dry, more moist and ready to be devoured.

    Also sometimes some interaction in the photo will create more interest -- a fork actively lifting a bit of the food away, or perhaps a bit of sauce being applied.

    Here's one example:

    [​IMG]
    Balsamic Reduction on Watermelon
    by Tim Campbell, on Flickr

    This is a watermelon salad with a balsamic reduction being applied. While there are a number of elements about this image that I don't like (after the shoot I noticed lighting issues that I wish I had handled better), I do like that we can see the thickness of the balsamic reduction actively being applied to the watermelon.

    Usually when I do a food shoot, I do it tethered and I'm inspecting the images on a large computer monitor as I'm doing the shoot so that I can make sure I'm getting the results I want. This is a shot I did for fun (my partner made the watermelon salad - this isn't for a restaurant) and I didn't bother with the sort of gear I'd do for an image that was expected to be used commercially. I'm not nuts about this image, but I thought I'd show it because it's an example where some "action" is implied in the image rather than just a plate of food sitting there.

    And since I've inasmuch admitted that I think the lighting for the watermelon salad sucks, I may as well also mention that when I do a food shoot I normally have quite a bit of lighting gear on hand (lights, light-modifiers, reflectors, flags, etc.) In the restaurant shoots I usually also bring large black table-cloths and clamps. I learned early on that in addition to the light I want to "add" I sometimes also have problems with restaurant lighting, windows, etc. and sometimes I want to block out the unwanted sources of light so that the only light I have to deal with is the light I can control.
     
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  7. beckylynne

    beckylynne TPF Noob!

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    I would try playing around with different angles, surfaces etc. If the recipe is for the chicken...shoot the chicken from the front. There doesn't need to be equal focus on all the elements on the plate. The broccoli and rice can be peaking from behind. Lot's of garnish and lot's of colour.

    I also like when some of the ingredients make a debut in the image. Something like the image below. http://udhao.net/wp-content/uploads/yummy-sea-food-wallpaper-750x469.jpg

    Photos for cookbook are equally art and photography in my opinion. I shot a menu once and there was 5 people on set with me all day from art directors to chefs and food stylists. At first I wanted them all to take a hike....but in the end we produced some beautiful images. I just clicked a button lol.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
  8. AceCo55

    AceCo55 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If your strength is in cooking/food (and I'm assuming it is since you are compiling a cookbook) rather than in food photography I think you have two choices:
    1) devote the time and effort to really learn HOW TO DO food photography well (and that will require the use of a dSLR with appropiate lenses and lighting)
    2) devote your time to preparing the food and get some-one WHO KNOWS HOW TO SHOOT GREAT FOOD PHOTOS

    I think it's a complete cop-out to say, "Oh I can take better photos with my phone camera and people like them better as well"
    My take is that you probably don't have the skill/knowledge to produce truly great photos of food and you think you can settle for a phone camera because AT THE MOMENT you think you can get better photos with it.
    If you are serious about your cookbook, then you better be serious about the images you use.
    "Close enough" is going to come back and bite you (pun intended) when your photos don't live up to the quality of your cooking.
     
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  9. edwardmwarrick

    edwardmwarrick TPF Noob!

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    good information for me
     
  10. charchri4

    charchri4 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Interesting looking at the thumb size the top two I can tell what they are and with the brighter colors and more contrast they look more appealing. The bottom one thumb size with all in the same bland colors kind of looks like lumpy mush and I had to open it to tell the extremely pale broccoli was broccoli. But opening it whoa there is something brown and runny under that chicken breast...

    I'm no foodie or photo expert by any stretch but I'd not include any shot in your book with something that looks remarkably like the stuff that one finds in a diaper...
     
  11. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sorry I didn't reply earlier to your kind responses.

    I had "notify me by email" checked in the options but didn't also check it on the post. So I didn't know that were any replies.

    And if I missed a reply, I'm sorry.

    I find the way that the forum posts replies a little strange.

    I am used to the reply going under the comment.

    I will try using "quote" next time and maybe shorten the comment if it's very long.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  12. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for the tips and I will think more color, contrast and saturation. Pretty easy in LR and PS

    One thing about getting a lot of feedback from FB is that I can get a general idea of what the general public like.
     

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