On the Road to Better Photos – What’s happened to my house???
I thought I would write a post on something a little different today. I was working on a few dishes when I got a bit sidetracked preparing for The Great American Baking Contest, which takes place this evening. My Oh My Ganache! cupcakes are a finalist, so I needed to pay attention to them. I decided I better bake a test batch of my cupcakes last evening since the weather is so rainy and nasty. It is still rainy and nasty, so a test run was a good thing. I did not want any surprises when baking for the event (like molten cupcakes), so what the heck, bake and eat more chocolate cupcakes! Just what we need! 😉
Anyway, since my cupcakes took priority, I decided to do a post about my new life living with camera equipment all over my house rather than a cooking post! I must say that I had no idea what I was getting into as far as food photography when I decided to start a food blog! I thought I would do what I love to do (which is cook), take a few pics, write about it and create a blog post. Well, I soon learned that a rather large part of food blogging has to do with the pretty pictures and not always to do with what’s cooking in your kitchen!
We all love to look at the beautiful photography, and in reality, many people may never cook or bake what most food bloggers are blogging about! The photos are what catch your eye first. Once I realized that, I knew that I needed to put more effort into the pictures of my food. You want someone to love the dish they found on your blog, maybe even prepare the recipe and then come back time and time again. Unfortunately, if your food is not appetizing in appearance, you may never have someone try that recipe or pop in to check out your blog again. It is all about first impressions.
Lucky, for me, my sweet and beyond patient husband (yes, I am sucking up!) owns a nice DSLR camera (Canon 40D) and knows how to use it. However, he shoots mostly landscapes and portrait work, so this food thing was a challenge, even for him! He had some camera and photography accessories (tripod, extra flashes, light meter, spyderlite), but we had to add reflectors and some smaller lights to use in small spaces and in the kitchen. Unfortunately, I started this blog in the Winter (when it couldn’t be any darker and impossible to photograph food)!) and, of course, I generally take pics during cooking and right before dinner. Our lighting situation was miserable, so we added some lights to brighten things up a bit! We now have several different types of light sources for different places where we might want to take pictures. (My hubby had the spyderlite for portrait work in the basement, now it’s in my kitchen!). Yikes! This stuff is taking over my house!
I started out using a Sony point and shoot, while my husband used the Canon. I am now learning how to operate the DSLR. It did not seem to matter what camera we used, before we added the lighting component, we still had awful pictures! There is no comparison in the photos, as shown below (before and after additional lighting).
As we have quickly discovered (and as some food photo sites will let you know 😉 ) it is mostly about getting the white balance correct. It is amazing what the difference is when you get the white balance where it needs to be! For us, part of that was in correcting the lighting situation.
As you will see in the photos, my home is overrun with studio like equipment now! It gets frustrating some days, but when you get a shot like this below, it is worth all the mess! I just have to keep reminding my husband of this! 😉
By the way, the photos of the lighting and camera set-ups were taken with a Sony point and shoot (and they were not too bad).
We use this gold reflector to add some warmer tones to pictures.
The best lighting is obviously daylight when you can put your food by a window or go outside, but when you cook mostly in the evenings, it is necessary to have a little help. Maybe not this much, but at least our photos should be getting better going forward (if we can survive the invasion!).
Note – in response to a few comments (below), you can purchase the lights we have on the counter in the kitchen complete with photo bulbs for $130 and a complete set of reflectors (5 disc colors) for $35 on Amazon.