Grab Your Fork's blogger Helen Yee shares her tips on taking great photos for your food blog.
DON’T USE FLASH
This is a hard habit to kick, and can seem a little daunting but it’s worth it. Trust me. No-one ever took an amazing food photo with their on-camera flash – all you get is harsh blown-out images without any colour subtleties. Using a mounted flash can work but I find it’s very obtrusive and the constant bursts of light will quickly annoy other customers, not to mention your fellow dining companions. If you’re really stuck, I’ve gotten assistance from the torch function on the iPhone 4 or the backlight from an iPad! The iPhone 4 torch can be pretty harsh, so I make a little filter by tearing off a bit of serviette and getting my friend to hold it over the flashlight so the light is diffused.
KNOW YOUR CAMERA
Take the time to read your manual and play around with the manual settings on your camera. I always shoot with Aperture Priority so I can control how much of the dish I want in focus, depending on how much light is available. To compensate for low light I will manually adjust the ISO priority.
USE A PRIME LENS
A prime lens means the focal length is fixed (i.e. you can’t zoom) but this translates to sharper images and a faster shutter speed – essential for low-light photography in restaurants. The most popular prime lens that food bloggers use are the 50mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.8 or 35mm f/1.8.
Left: ‘Dragonfruit and jackfruit, Malaysia’, Photo by Helen Yee. Nikon D90, 50mm f/2.0, 1/60sec, 1000 ISO
Right: ‘Apple three ways, Becasse Restaurant, Sydney’, Photo by Helen Yee. Nikon D90, 50mm f/2.0, 1/50sec, 1000 ISO
CONTROL YOUR SURROUNDINGS
You know you’re a food blogger if you arrive at a restaurant and immediately scan the room for the table with the best light. I will often ask to switch to a table with better light, or swap seats with someone if they have brighter light than I do. The best way to get good food photos is to eat during the day – go out for breakfast or lunch and relish the abundance of natural light that will be a godsend for sexy food photos!
EXPERIMENT WITH ANGLES
There’s something almost meditative about taking food photos. I like how looking at the dish through a lens gives me a chance to really scrutinise the physical construction of a dish. When I first started food blogging I experimented a lot with different angles, and I often find that holding your camera at plate level will help to give a dish a sense of depth and height.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR POST PRODUCTION SOFTWARE
I use a post production software for almost all my photos – it won’t create a miracle but a little tweaking with brightness, saturation and white balance can often work wonders. I also find shooting in RAW instead of JPG gives me greater flexibility when editing the images later.
Left: ‘Assam Laksa, Malaysia’, Photo by Helen Yee. Nikon D90, 50mm f/1.8, 1/80sec, 1000 ISO
Right: ‘Tempura prawn sushi roll in egg crepe, Iiza, Newtown, Sydney’, Photo by Helen Yee. Nikon D90, 50mm f/2.0, 1/125sec, 2500 ISO
This article is courtesy of the ‘My Nikon Life’ magazine, Issue 3. For more inspirational stories and images, join My Nikon Life
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For more information on a selection of cameras that Nikon have chosen especially for food photography fans whether you are a compact point-and-shooter or a DSLR user, visit our Nikon gear page
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For Food Blogging Nikon recommends: The Nikon 1 advanced compact camera system
- a simple point-and-shoot that is compact enough to fit in your bag but with unique features and interchangeable lenses for advanced image quality and creative flexibility. Find out more