FOODIE PHOTOGRAPHY MICRO COURSE
Welcome to the Foodie Shots Free Photography Micro Course.
Here you are going to learn some cool tips and techniques on taking instantly better photos either on your point and shoot or on your smart phone. If you get to the end and want to know more we certainly run comprehensive workshops where we can help you with your individual business or products. Give us a call or send me an email.
Lets start with lighting.
Natural light is a beautiful thing. It creates the drama, depth and shadows. It creates the emotion and tells a story just like a painter does with light and dark colours. Consider the 4 below tips and techniques when you take your next photo.
1. Find a window
Windows are your friend. This is where you can try and harness the natural light depending on the time of day. So maybe pay attention to the type of light that comes through your windows.
2.Avoid at all costs direct light.
It creates harsh ugly shadows and is not flattering esp with food items. Direct light also creates a lot of contrast (really bright whites and really dark shadows) which can create cool graphic styled images but again not really suited to food photography.
If you are forced to shoot in direct light you have a few options. Try and diffuse the light with some sort of opaque material.
Have a look at these two examples. I literally used a clear tupperware container to diffuse the light. Notice how much softer are the shadows? I feel it enables the eye to travel around the image more smoothly than jarring from bright to dark and it adds more depth.
If you find shadows are really dark and deep…try bouncing back some direct light using a white bit of cardboard.
Colour in Food and Product Photography is a game changer!
Have you ever done those colour tests where the red and green shapes look different but they aren’t all because the strength and power of colour.
Photographers and visual artists use colour to create emotion, illicit a reaction and help direct the eye to where they want you to go.
Next time you watch a movie, take note of the colour theme they are using throughout. In sad scenes there will be a darkness or muted toned, and then in happy it will be bright and harmonious. If they want you to feel cold they may use an overall blue tinge to the scene. There is a whole study on it in cinematography and I find it fascinating. Unfortunately it has ruined our Friday night movie sessions as both Sonny and I analyse the opening scenes to understand the colour theory. Sad I know.
Tools out there.
Now, if you type in colour theory into your browser and you will find a plethora of tools and other sites which go into great detail about the use of colour. Even the psychology of colour is worth a read and when considering branding it is important to understand the meanings behind colour.
One tool I am going to share with you as it is so damn easy to use and its interactive which is even cooler is Canva [if you are not a canva user click this link and we both will receive a reward]. Canva is a great open web source you can use to create posts, prints, insta stories even your branding if you wish. What they also provide are lots of tips and tools and this one which is about colour choices.
What I like is it clearly shows the relationship between the different colours. As you will see below here are the different ways of ‘grouping’ colours.
Let’s See it in practice.
I have shown a couple of examples in the way I use colour. Now this is certainly not the only way to do it. The way you see colour is totally different and it becomes a part of your branding or style. It develops and you start to see patterns in the way to create images.
In the lavender and pear image I have really two colour wheels being used. But the hero…the pears is my main focus and therefore that limey greeny yellow is what I am working with. As you will see from the colour wheel, the purply blues are perfect to complement and make it pop. The beautiful green stems bring it together. The subtle second colour selection would be the nuetrals which are supporting the hero. You never want the background or the props to over power your hero. Dont forget you are telling a visual story. Keep the viewer on track.
Here with this gorgeous homemade pasta I have chosen to go with a monochromatic colour range. Why? Well the ingredients are earthy they are natural and I wanted to convey the silkiness of the pasta. Therefore contrasting colours are not what is needed here. I wanted the light to pick up the beautiful subtleness of the detail and colours created by the shadows. You will notice the brown board peeking through with the dusting of flour. This I felt was important as a plain board a) is boring and b) it would have been too strong. The flour creates texture and ties the colours together.
Now this just pops. I love the complimentary colours here. The light shinning through the translucent mandarin segments. The blue grey tin provides just enough pop yet is subtle enough to not overpower. In fact if you really want to get technical you will notice the dark green leaves in the back introduce another colour but if you look at the colour wheel it makes sense as it is the colour in-between the blue and orange. However it is not the primary colour theme here. And thats the point…Colour theory is a guide. It will become natural and if something isnt working for you in an image…go back to your colour wheel and sense check it. It may just need a tweak.
If you really want to understand colour here are two books I reference often.
“Interaction of Colour, 50th Anniversary Edition” by Josef Albers
“The Designer’s Dictionary of Colour” by Sean Adams
Pro Photographers use their phone cameras all the time! Shock Horror!
I know, right.
Even with our thousands of dollars worth of equipment and all the tools and gadgets, we still pull out our smart phones to capture a product or food item to share on social media with friends, family and colleagues.
Why…because it is easy and quick and in our pockets. Our phones have become an extension of ourselves like it or not.
It makes a huge difference though how you take this image. It is true you do not always need a fancy DSLR camera to capture a moment which is at your table. I would argue though there is a time and place for every tool and a DSLR is certainly a professional tool to really step up and capture the object in its best light. However, it is more important to preserve a moment than not get it all.
I am about to tell you a few tips which I use when I am stuck without my camera and do not want to miss an opportunity.
Camera Grids – Help with composition.
Not only can the inbuilt grid on your phone help you line up the horizon they also help you compose your photos.
In photography and design world there are RULES!
BORING I hear you say. Well, lets learn the rule and then work out how to break them.
Basically the grid will help you understand where everything is in your photo and the points of interest. I go into this alot more detail in my workshops. But for now here is how you turn on this feature. I am referring to iphones but it is very similiar on all phones.
- Go into Settings
- Scroll down about 5 groups till you find Camera
- Find Grid and turn it on.
Let’s talk Exposure.
Sometimes we need a little helping with light. Now you may not be in the studio or able to command the sun however your phone has an inbuilt exposure compensation button.
On the iphone and the samsung if you tap the screen a faint yellow box will appear temporarily. Now slide your finger up to increase the exposure or down to decrease exposure.
Many of my beautiful workshop participants are mind blown when they see this as they had never noticed it before.
The Other Shutter
Now this one I didnt know about till a long time after getting my ipone. Sad I know. But you can use the side volume button as your shutter as well!
This makes it so much easier when you are holding maybe a fork or spoon trying to show the human hand in the photo at the same time and you really can not be bothered getting out the phone tripod.
Never ever whats so ever…use the flash when taking photos of food. If you want to know how to increase the light or get more light in send me an email or come along to a workshop…seriously the flash on camera whether it is phone or DSLR is a no no for food photography. There are other ways to get more light.