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