28 November 2011

Food Photography #1: Creating texture & depth 280

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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