28 November 2011

Food Photography #1: Creating texture & depth

Hello all, my name is Lee and I am honored to guest-post tips on food photography for Renaissance Culinaire. We are going to try to make this a monthly feature, so send us feedback with questions or suggestions on what we should photograph next!

Avo-Tuna Cerviche ©2011 Spinwave Photo

Today's post focuses on the attention-sucking feature I like to call "black holes". While shadows are important to creating the illusion of depth, black spots with little-to-no detail will quickly suck a viewer's eye into its vortex of darkness (thus the nickname black hole). Here's how to identify and correct them:

Click to enlarge photo.

In addition to the black holes, the light flattened the texture of the tuna and avocado chunks. So we added a foam-core reflector close-in, camera-right:

Click to enlarge photo.

That filled in the large black hole in the center of the food, so you can see the green of the avocado and a bit of its texture. But I felt that we could get a little more texture in the food with another reflector positioned at the front of the lens and angled downward. The reflector was actually closer than illustrated below--it was actually resting on the lens hood. The result:

Click to enlarge photo.

The second reflector added some specular highlights (a.k.a. "shiny spots" or "shine"), which is the other component of creating the illusion of depth. The effect is less dramatic in the photo as the light was dissipating even faster now as we approached 5pm in the city. The waning light also left one black hole that we could not fill in without resorting to flash (a future post topic).

The Tools: 1. foam-core reflectors (available at Michael's craft stores in various sizes for around $5); 2. Canon 5D MkII used for the food photos, (but any camera with a Manual mode works great); 3. Canon G12 for set-up shots; final settings for food shots are f/2.8 @ 40, ISO 2000.

Special Thanks to: Heather of Heather Bayles Photography for assisting; Shigezo Portland for allowing us to photograph in their restaurant and for the wonderful Avo-Tuna Ceviche (Tuna, avocado, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, soy sauce & wasabi dressing).



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2:25 PM, April 26, 2012 Reply  

Nice thing you did with the different angles.
Nowadays there are many Iphone photographers, is it possible to achieve this effect with an iphone and a special app?

11:30 PM, April 26, 2012 Reply  

Food is the most important part of over life or any one life .when you click a picture for your food its quit diffrent you feel it.

1:36 AM, April 27, 2012 Reply  

Awesome, really its temptating........
Thank you very much for sharing..

7:44 AM, April 29, 2012 Reply  

Thank you, that’s very interesting information. I need to share with my friends

10:59 PM, April 29, 2012 Reply  

nice photo..btw its look very delicous!Yummy..=)

5:40 PM, May 01, 2012 Reply  

this is the best food pics i had ever seen

2:51 AM, May 02, 2012 Reply  

It look very delicious. I love the way he take that picture

9:09 AM, May 02, 2012 Reply  

How I can get information about photography?

10:07 PM, May 03, 2012 Reply  

Thank you for this post. I'd like to make photo of my cakes like you))

4:23 AM, May 04, 2012 Reply  

Nice writing. I think your website should come up much higher in the search results than where it is showing up right now...

12:57 PM, May 06, 2012 Reply  

Nice Article..Keep Sharing Like This.. Thanks

12:58 PM, May 06, 2012 Reply  

Nice Sharing.. Awesome..

11:10 PM, May 06, 2012 Reply  

thanks nice post

11:01 AM, May 07, 2012 Reply  

This is a wonderful post. I loved getting such useful tips. I’ll try and follow them and can hopefully become a better blogger. I would love that to happen soon.

Thanks for sharing.

2:55 PM, May 07, 2012 Reply  

Very interesting and informative article. Good job, thanks for sharing! I can't wait to see your next articles.

12:31 AM, May 08, 2012 Reply  

Well honestly speaking this article is really useful for me keep sharing with us.....!

6:25 PM, May 08, 2012 Reply  


Your Food photography is a branch not only of advertising (product) photography, but also of fashion photography: that is, there are fashions in the food itself, and also in the way it is photographed.

12:07 PM, May 09, 2012 Reply  

Thank you Lee for this informative article!


10:40 PM, May 09, 2012 Reply  

The photographs looks really yummy and fresh. Wish it would be in my mouth right now. Anyways thank you so much for the information with beautiful delicious picture.

4:36 AM, May 10, 2012 Reply  

Really Interesting and unique. Carry on Sir.

4:48 AM, May 10, 2012 Reply  

I like the people who think differently. Photography is very interesting and creative job.

5:01 AM, May 10, 2012 Reply  

Wow! Cool Photos, You are taking it absoltely from the right angle, the fruit cubes is clearly shot.

7:14 AM, May 10, 2012 Reply  

I just love the picture you have taken. Having the correct lighting is important too. I understand desserts or very clod foods can be a night mare to shoot, like ice-creams. In the old episodes of Happy Days, the special sunday that everyone used to order, the ice-cream used to be mashed potato, just so that it does not melt under the studio lights.

9:53 AM, May 10, 2012 Reply  

That looks totaly great!!!

11:43 AM, May 10, 2012 Reply  

I like your photos Lee they are very nice. Also, this guide is very easy to understand and has helped me a lot. Truly you are a very talented photographer. Keep it up.

4:32 PM, May 10, 2012 Reply  

Really great tips! When I scout for photos to feature on my site, these elements definitely come to mind.

4:42 PM, May 10, 2012 Reply  

Great tips! My mother-in-law runs a cooking blog, I'll definitely forward her a link to this article to have a look and learn how to improve her photos.

10:25 PM, May 11, 2012 Reply  

In addition to creating depth, textures will add detail and a tactile sense to an image.It’s best to photograph texture with a side light. That will really bring out the details by causing highlights and shadows in all the right places.
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You just have to focus in one brand so you can maximize it or if ever you want to upgrade your camera it is easier for you to use the function because your familiar with the brand.

11:28 PM, May 17, 2012 Reply  

Great find, I’m going to have to check this one out. Thanks for sharing.
Very informative….

8:29 PM, May 18, 2012 Reply  

I do love food picturing. When i cook for my self, i always take picture and post it on my Facebook's wall. My friends love it too.Thanks for share.

8:09 PM, May 19, 2012 Reply  

i certainly love this website, keep on it
thank you

8:09 AM, May 20, 2012 Reply  

The foods are enticing to the eyes. It was captured very well by the photographer. Great job!

best regards,

2:10 AM, May 21, 2012 Reply  

i like this. attractive!

4:40 AM, May 21, 2012 Reply  

hello, I would like to ask about using same setup for smart phones. I am really interested in taking good pictures with phones. Is this applicable to mobile phone shutters or do we need a light source?

5:02 PM, May 21, 2012 Reply  

You should try the new cannon 3 rebel best camera ever :)

3:17 AM, May 22, 2012 Reply  

I am not a regular reader of your blog but I really liked your post and bookmarked your blog for more good post.

4:00 AM, May 23, 2012 Reply  

I like the post and your entire site. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. One thing confuses me about this particular tactic. Where are you getting the content from? Can you say where you would get something like this from?

9:25 AM, May 24, 2012 Reply  

Pretty nice post, I read this article it is very informative. Thanks for the post.

12:52 AM, May 25, 2012 Reply  

black hole? nice photo. you can use flashlight to see the hole =D

8:23 AM, May 28, 2012 Reply  

yummy, looks very nice

10:46 PM, May 28, 2012 Reply  

Nice Post. Pictures looks very delicious.

7:45 PM, May 29, 2012 Reply  

Thanks for the tip, i'm very happy when visit ur site

10:36 PM, May 29, 2012 Reply  

Great photos Lee, this makes me hungry! I wish that you could also post nature photos that can be found around the world, isn't it interesting? Thanks Lee.

3:09 PM, May 30, 2012 Reply  

@ChrisNikon camera is good, I use it for a long time. I appreciate to Lee to do this job. I have done trying to take a food from my camera, but it's not good picture I get. I don't know about this idea. Anyone share?

10:55 PM, May 30, 2012 Reply  

I think it deserves more stars for IQ...

12:21 AM, May 31, 2012 Reply  

This blog is very prefered to me because i like light food.

Really great post!!very interesting..

5:32 PM, May 31, 2012 Reply  

This is a great post! The tips that you've shared will be very useful and helpful to us. Thank you for sharing! Keep it up!

10:10 PM, May 31, 2012 Reply  

This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing:)

10:44 PM, June 01, 2012 Reply  

Nice Pics!! Its looks so awesome i want to eat it

11:58 AM, June 04, 2012 Reply  

Thanks for you forever!

5:00 PM, June 06, 2012 Reply  

Thanks for showing how to set that up. I'm going to try to add that top bounce on my next shot.

3:42 AM, June 08, 2012 Reply  

steady ... so hungry ...

1:23 PM, June 08, 2012 Reply  

I really like images and I really like meals. You've got really awesome practical knowledge, amazing job on the reflector and outside.

1:45 PM, June 08, 2012 Reply  

Really fantastic article. I've recently purchased a good camera to get into photography. Don't know much about cooking but my girlfriend makes some excellent food. Will employ these tips and start taking pictures of some of the stuff she makes! Have also sent this link via Facebook to all my photography friends :)

2:09 PM, June 08, 2012 Reply  

I am dreaming of becoming a photographer someday too but lenses are expensive. Also wanted to have a blog like your in which you can display your photos and share how you did it. Really great i admire you.

9:47 PM, June 09, 2012 Reply  

I've seen some videos of doing food photography and it is really not that easy. Everything should be in a proper place and some glossy effect that it would look fresh. Every shot should make them feel they would like to it as soon as possible.

10:25 PM, June 12, 2012 Reply  

I really love to read articles that have good information and ideas to share to each reader. I hope to read more from you guys and continue that good work that is really inspiring to us.

2:06 AM, June 14, 2012 Reply  

Thank you for letting me know this information hopefully I can utilize everything I've learn from your post to help boost my business.

5:43 AM, June 19, 2012 Reply  

warm Greeting

These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so
I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thank you for the blog.

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6:59 PM, June 23, 2012 Reply  

Yum yum, looks delicious.A very healthy food. Keep posting please.
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2:43 AM, June 27, 2012 Reply  

The picture is beautiful, you capture great photos.
I knew that the light is very important, but so far I didn't use foam-core reflectors. The final picture looks very delicious. How many pictures you made in total

10:50 AM, June 27, 2012 Reply  

Thank you for sharing! This was exactly what I was looking for.
Very good article. Rated no.vang thank a remark, an honest comment. I like to list on this list.
I do love food picturing.

10:53 AM, June 27, 2012 Reply  

Like it
It's very good
Thankyous sharing

11:53 AM, July 04, 2012 Reply  

Thank you for sharing this..

A very beautifull picture....

5:35 PM, July 11, 2012 Reply  

Fantastic info. Please keep it up!

9:36 PM, July 12, 2012 Reply  

Hello there, I found your web site via Google even as searching for a similar subject, your web site got here up, it seems to be good. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

12:12 AM, July 16, 2012 Reply  

they look really great, I never eat

7:32 AM, July 19, 2012 Reply  

Hi, thank you for your pictures...

They are very nice...
I ilike the technique used in these pictures...

12:23 PM, July 19, 2012 Reply  

Photography has become on of the most desirable leisure time specially for the youngsters.Food photography being a part of he photography has become a popular form of photography.

9:44 PM, August 07, 2012 Reply  

wow, look very attractive, I want to eat it

1:27 PM, August 13, 2012 Reply  

I did a bit of photography while at university, I think I was pretty good at it, I didn't know there was so much to it, besides mastering the camera and how it works. That was our focal point.

11:52 AM, October 31, 2012 Reply  

So...they are called 'Black Holes'! I found this pot completely by accident, and wanted to thank you - It is surprising what you can learn every day, if you spend time looking online. Thanks very much, Lee.

9:28 AM, December 27, 2012 Reply  

very nice photo guys, I love garnish which eatable it's very good post.

7:56 PM, March 25, 2013 Reply  

Great blog post – I found you on Google. I will be sure to recommend this to my co-workers. Keep up the great work

4:41 AM, April 24, 2013 Reply  

Wow! Informative article and incredible beauty first picture of it.

The special food is always the arts. Thanks for your post.

11:24 PM, June 26, 2013 Reply  

Thanks Grant! The 7D is a great camera! And yes, the focus is a manual endeavor, and mush more like a film shoot – complex shots need a focus puller.

9:26 PM, February 22, 2015 Reply  

Hi, Really great effort. Everyone must read this article. Thanks for sharing.

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