Friday, February 10, 2012

Lessons in Food Photography...Kelly from Eat Yourself Skinny!

Hello there lovely readers of Roots, Wings and Other Things!  I'm Kelly and I write for the blog Eat Yourself Skinny where I share all my favorite recipes that are guilt-free and delicious!  I also happen to have a huge love of photography and was super excited when Miss Daryl asked me to share with you all some tips and tricks when taking and editing photos!

Now lemme just clarify, I am NOT a professional photographer by any means. trust me.  A year ago my pictures looked like this (yikes, I know) and were taken using my trusty little iPhone.  I finally decided to treat myself to my first DSLR camera in May and never looked back!  I became absolutely hooked and photography became such a passion of mine.  So how does one get started?

Well I'm so glad you asked.

The camera I use is a Nikon D3000 and I just recently got a new 50 mm lens which is literally the best.thing.ever. and perfect to use when you want that blurred background effect.  There are some very important principles to photography that every newbie should learn when they get their first camera:  aperture, exposure, white balance and ISO.  But I won't get into all the specifics, I'm not trying to scare you away!  I'm just going to share with you what works for me and how I taught myself to use the camera!


As a food photographer, the hardest obstacle I face is finding the time to take pictures of my food outside while there is still daylight, especially while having a full time job.  It's absolutely essential though in achieving the photo you want so make sure to always take your pictures outside or by a window!  The next thing I wanted to learn was how to give my pictures that coveted blurred background!  Well folks, that's where aperture comes in which basically means how much light you allow to come through your lens.  All you really need to know is that the bigger the f-stop numbers, the less light that will enter the camera and the lower the numbers the more light that comes in.  Here's a lil cheat sheet to show you what I mean:

See??  So to get that blurred background effect that people just swoon over, you just need to lower your aperture!  Easy peasy.  I usually have mine set between f/3 and f/1.4.  I also bump up my exposure a bit just to give my pictures a soft glow, but play around with your features and see what works best for you!

Here is a photo I took in natural light with the aperture lowered to f/1.4 BEFORE editing.

See how blurred the cranberries are but how the loaf seems to be more in focus?  Well this photo is still dull and not very sharp so this is where editing comes in.  Editing is extremely important when it comes to photography and can change any ordinary photo into something absolutely amazing!  I use Photoshop CS5, but before I had that I just used the free online program Picnik so I'll walk you step by step through that so that you can do it at home.

First upload your photo and make sure you are under Basic Edits.

Next go to Sharpen, click Unsharp Mask and drag the bars all the way across so that your Strength is at 200% and your Radius is at a 6.  Feel free to bump up your Clarity as well so that you can see more detail in your photos.  I moved mine to about 21% for this photo.

Now I know you'll want to play around with the exposure, but trust me your photo doesn't need it!  You don't want to mess with the white balance of a picture that natural light automatically gives it.  Here's the finished product!

Big difference huh?

The bread is more in focus, the oats are super sharp and clear while the cranberries in the background are blurry adding to the composition of your photo.  Trust me, photography is not something you learn overnight and there are so many elements to each and every aspect that it would take me hundreds of blog posts to cover each one of them!  But I hope this helps you understand the basics of how to take and play with your photos so that you can finally have them accepted onto such sites as Foodgawker and Tastespotting.

Yes foodies, I KNOW you can relate!

Food styling is very important too.  You can take pictures all day of your dish until your fingers are practically numb {guilty}, but if you don’t use any props to enhance your photo, you’re going to come up short.  The best props to use are cutting boards, various colored napkins that accentuate your dish and most importantly, the ingredients you used to make your recipe.  In the picture above I used fresh cranberries in my recipe so I laid a bunch out around the bread.

Here are some examples of food styling:


 1 // 2 // 3

Like I said, I'm not a pro by ANY means and just started photography this year so these aren't going to look as professional as some of the ones I'm sure you gush over daily, but I just wanted to share what I've learned!

In the first picture, I used the leftover limes I used to make the beer-garitas and dispersed them around to help with the composition.  In the second picture of the Tex Mex Couscous, since I used fresh lime juice and cilantro, I chose those as my props.  I also used a matching light green napkin and a cutting board to enhance the look of the photo.  In my third photo, I used chocolate chips as my prop as well as a mason jar full of milk since, well, milk and cookies always just seem to go so perfect together!

Well I think that just about covers the basics of food photography.  Thank you so much Daryl for inviting me over to your fabulous blog today!  I hope this was informative for y'all and if you have any other photography questions or are interested in some skinny recipes, feel free to stop by my blog any time!



Elisha(: said...

beautiful photography!<3

The Cooking Actress said...

I'm SO depressed that they're shutting Picnik down :(

Mo (New on U) said...

This is great, but I too, am sad about Picnik being shut down. I love posting some of my favorite recipes, but I live in a basement apartment which means that even if I were snapping dinner pics at noon, I would have little to no natural light, which really seems key to a great picture :(

Jane {In the Pink and Green} said...

I love food photography/styling but I still have so much to learn so I loved the tips in this post! I love Kelly's blog, thanks for sharing! Xoxo

Kelly | Eat Yourself Skinny said...

Thank you so much for inviting me to guest post!! xoxo

Free Spirit Eater said...

Love your explanation of what works for you Kelly, thanks for sharing! Your photography is always top notch! =]

Jen @ Savory Simple said...

Wonderful photography tips!

Maria said...

Oh goodness gracious! So many delciious things! I love her so much, she's SO good :)

Also, love your design...pretty sure I just noticed it!

Becky said...

Great tips that I am going to use. so sad, that Picnik is closing, too. will have to look for another alternative.

Darryl, a great guest blogger!

Lindsey said...

loved the post kelly! good info!

Ruth REYNOSO-SANCE said...

Great tips! I am still working on my skills, I definitely need to learn how to use props, Kelly uses them beautifully!

Cheryl Birkey said...

I tried it out! Thanks for the info.
Take a look:

LindsayNicole said...

I Love this!! THanks so so much for sharing!!


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