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Adventures in Food Photography: Peppers and Macro – 4 of 4

April 19, 2010

100mm lens; f 2.8; 0.4s

This last class discusses the effects that can be achieved by shooting water on fruits or vegetables. The examples that were given were of running a sprinkler over an object but I couldn’t recreate that (due to logistics and as Talia reminded me later.. where do you see rain on fruits?!). The key to capturing drops of water on an object is to shoot when the light is at a low angle, i.e. early in the morning or later in the afternoon. I opted for later in the afternoon since I am not an early riser on weekends. The low angle of light has a way of traveling through the droplets of water and highlighting them. I tried to sprinkle drops of water on the cherry tomatoes but the drops became mostly flat. Nevertheless I came away with a dramatic picture of tomatoes and peppers with some drops. I will have to try more of these as light and time permit.

Just tomatoes with some water – I focused on the one in the middle and everything else remained blurry.
100mm lens; f 2.8; 0.8s

Tomatoes and peppers with some water
100mm lens; f 2.8; 2.0s

Another topic for this class is macro and selective focus. When using a zoom macro lens for a very tight closeup shot you must always shoot on a tripod and use a remote shutter release. The reason is that the slightest camera shake and make a tightly zoomed in picture look blurry and the detail you zoomed in to the object to capture is lost.

I really had fun with the next picture. I zoomed in on the stem of the pepper, had other peppers in the background for color and tried to highlight its texture using how the afternoon light naturally fell on it. By selectively focusing on the stem and using the shallowest possible depth of field it draws the viewers attention to the specific spot. It then makes the viewer glance around the rest of the image to enjoy the vibrant colors and come back to the spot in focus.

Macro focus on pepper stem
100mm lens; f 2.8; 0.6s

I then reorganized the subjects, reduced the shutter speed and took the same picture again (see top picture) and the results were dramatic. The change in shutter speed from 0.6 seconds to 0.4 seconds darkened the background which made the highlights pop even more. I would say this is my favorite picture.

I submitted the second picture from the top for my assignment (not sure why I didn’t submit the first one)and got good constructive criticism. My teacher said, “Nice job getting in close on this one. With the reflective quality of the tomatoes, moving the light source a little farther behind would keep the hot spots on the back sides of them and give you a lot more fill out of your reflector on the front.” Next time I will remember that!

The lesson mentioned that depth of field can be even further reduced, i.e. the part of the object that is not in focus can be made even blurrier, by adding an extension tube to your lens. I don’t have one but intend to buy one and experiment with it in the future. Lensbaby is a product that does this with even more emphasis on a ‘sweet spot’ and a very deliberate blur within millimeters from it. I don’t have this either but it sounds intriguing.

Lessons Learnt

  • The biggest lesson I learnt from this class is to keep shooting, shooting, shooting. Take lots of pictures on a regular basis on a set schedule.
  • Try shooting from different angles after you have set up your subject. Shoot once from at least three angles, even if you think that the light is in front of your camera and the picture will be over or under exposed. Lower your camera when shooting against the light.
  • Look through magazines, cookbooks and commercials for interesting compositions and try to recreate them.
  • Set up a composition and let it stay there the whole day. Come back to it and shoot it at different times of the day when the light is different.
  • If you are not a cook (like me and don’t have a ‘cookaholic’ friend like Talia) try buying cooked foods and shooting them. In addition try shooting fruits and vegetable in different lights and using different lenses.

This ends my four-session class. I will try to keep writing about my adventures in food photography. if you have any suggestions on topics, please email me. Thanks for reading.. now take your lens cap off and get to work!

For related posts see

Adventures in Food Photography: Pears and Light – 1 of 4

Adventures in Food Photography: Salsa and Lenses – 2 of 4

Adventures in Food Photography: Lemon and Textures – 3 of 4.

-by Noerah

9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 11:22 am

    The water trick is a great tip to make veggies look even fresher and more tantalizing. Thanks for posting such a helpful and thoughtful idea.

    • April 20, 2010 11:47 am

      Thanks, Carolyn. I didn’t even think of the word ‘fresh’ in my post, since I was looking at the assignment so technically – mix objects with water. You picked the perfect term!

  2. ivorypomegranate permalink
    April 20, 2010 7:58 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed reading about your photography lessons, and they’ve helped me out too!

    • April 22, 2010 6:32 am

      Thanks. It was a lot of fun writing them. Gave me a way to summarize my lessons for future reference.

  3. April 20, 2010 8:39 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed reading about your class, and it caused me to shoot probably 3 or 4 times the photos I’ve shot in the past, just to experiment! Also have been committed to using only manual mode on my camera, which is educational.

    I’m fascinated at how light changes throughout the day. I always shoot in my dining room (south exposure) and it’s funny how you get to know what’s the right time to photograph your food. Sometimes though, I just do my best since I do cook what I shoot- and don’t want to overthink it.

    You totally inspire me to think more about composition and light, and all of your photos are really improving with your increasing knowledge! I can’t wait until I can invest in a larger camera and get some different lenses… Then I’ll be ready to come visit and take a class with you!!

    • April 22, 2010 6:35 am

      Rebecca – can’t wait for you to visit us so we shoot together. I am so glad you enjoyed reading about my lessons. Some day soon I hope to learn photography using artificial lighting, but for now I am happy with natural light.

  4. April 21, 2010 1:40 am

    The photos look great. I love the addition of water droplets.

  5. April 22, 2010 6:36 am

    Thanks. Water proved to be quite a success on these peppers.. much more so than I expected.

  6. March 12, 2013 1:27 pm

    Reblogged this on Kitchen Klutter and commented:
    Food Art.. lovely

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