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BBQ Brethren Throwdowns Join us in the backyard for a fun weekly contest and show off your BBQ creations! New categories are posted each week. Winners earn bragging rights, a Throwdown Certificate, and the chance to choose the next week's category. Fun people only please! If you take this too seriously you will have to leave the party until you are fun again.


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Old 07-17-2011, 03:34 PM   #31
caseydog
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NOTE: Try to avoid, if at all possible, shooting your food under fluorescent lighting.

I'm seeing throwdown photos being posted that were obviously shot under fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lighting, unless it is pricey color corrected fluorescent lighting, just doesn't make food look appetizing. It has a narrow, and very green color spectrum.

Your food will come out with a green cast, and the contrast will probably be pretty flat if you shoot under fluorescent lighting. And, even if you correct your photos in Photoshop, your results will not be as appetizing as your food is.

Indirect sunlight would be my first choice. Direct sunlight (from the side) would work, too, although your contrast my be a bitt to high.

Flash works, although it is best for food if you can move the flash off the camera, and point it at the food from the side, and somewhat above the food. That gives you nice highlights and shadows, which gives your food more depth. If you use a flash on top of a digital SLR, Gary Fong's Lightsphere system really does a good job of improving your flash photos. Really, I use it for some of my professional photography, and it works. http://www.garyfongestore.com/flash-accessories.html

Incandescent light will work, but your food may look too yellow, but that is preferable to too green, by a long way. Plus, you can EASILY correct for incandescent light in Photoshop.

Again, avoid fluorescent like the plague, unless you like flat, green food.

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Old 07-17-2011, 03:38 PM   #32
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OK, all I have is flourescent lighting in my house (either tubes or CFL). So it sounds like late night cooking (like the SPAM loaf) is not going to work any more!

Although...for SPAM, green isn't really such a bad thing is it?
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Old 07-17-2011, 04:08 PM   #33
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If the green is actually there, as with Spam, there's not much you can do about it. :)
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Old 07-17-2011, 04:11 PM   #34
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I think from now on I'm going to do all my shots under fluorescent lighting and then send it to CD to fix. Those are some fine skills and I'd hate for them to go to waste.
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Old 07-17-2011, 04:15 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gore View Post
I think from now on I'm going to do all my shots under fluorescent lighting and then send it to CD to fix. Those are some fine skills and I'd hate for them to go to waste.
I sharpen, adjust contrast, and color correct for free at first, then I charge stupid-high prices to keep doing it. I call that Crack Dealer Marketing.

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Old 07-18-2011, 06:06 AM   #36
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Hey CD, Great info in this thread!

How about some discussion on proper methods of how to sharpen, adjust contrast, and color correct, or is it simply to just keep messing with it until it looks good?
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Old 07-18-2011, 07:07 AM   #37
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I can't really add anything to caseydog's excellent advice, but seeing that this thread has come back up, I'll add a snapshot of my lighting mock up. CD is right in that you DO NOT want to use fluros for food unless you know how to deal with them. I don't shoot food, but just the same, here's the lighting rig I made up.

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Old 07-18-2011, 09:37 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Lobo View Post
I can't really add anything to caseydog's excellent advice, but seeing that this thread has come back up, I'll add a snapshot of my lighting mock up. CD is right in that you DO NOT want to use fluros for food unless you know how to deal with them. I don't shoot food, but just the same, here's the lighting rig I made up.

Interesting... what are you using for bulbs in those lights?
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:21 AM   #39
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Interesting... what are you using for bulbs in those lights?
Alzo Digital 5500K CFL's.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:23 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigabyte View Post
OK, all I have is flourescent lighting in my house (either tubes or CFL). So it sounds like late night cooking is not going to work any more!
I too have come to the conclusion that late night photos just do not look as good as the ones I can take outside during the day.
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:02 PM   #41
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Hey, I did some color and contrast adjusting for someone else's Throw Down entry and got scolded. I have to say, since I started shooting from father away, per Northwest BBQ's advice, my photos have improved a lot. I use the on-camera flash and shooting up close is just to bright. I am too lazy to go to storage and get the special lights.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:23 PM   #42
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As requested, here a few tips for making adjustments on the computer.

I feel I should point out that your goal in correcting throwdown entry photos should be accuracy, not enhancement. You want your food to look as good in the photo as it does in reality -- not better.

I use Photoshop CS5, but Photoshop Elements does everything you need to do to post good food shots on the forum. Other programs may do the same stuff, but I don't know those programs. Depending on the version of Photoshop or Elements you use, the menus may differ from what I post below. These should be good for most versions, though.

There are many good video tutorials on YouTube covering all of the controls I mention. There is no way I can teach you how to use all of these controls in this thread better than these videos can. I am mainly telling you which windows and commands in Photoshop and Elements I would use.

1. All digital images, even the ones from my professional Nikon D3, need some amount of sharpening. In Photoshop, I use Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen. You will need to experiment with settings to fit your camera. For my D3, I set the Amount at about 120 (for full-size, 300 DPI images), and the Radius at 0.6, and adjust for Gaussian Blur, in most cases. With smaller, lower resolution images, that Amount will be too much. You just need to experiment. Once you get it right, you can apply that to all your images from one particular camera.

2. For color and contrast corrections, I have found that the Image>Adjustments>Auto Levels command often does a decent enough job for a lot of images, if you don't want to mess with manually adjusting your levels. The Image>Adjustments>Levels control window will give better results than the Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast control window. So, I would choose Levels over Brightness/Contrast every time.

Auto Levels will do some color correction, too, as it tries to make what it thinks is absolute white look absolutely white. Using the eye droppers in the Levels controls window will do some color correcting, too. If you shoot under good lighting, like daylight, that alone may be all you need to do to get good color.

Image>Adjustments>Auto Color will give you a better results, especially for shots taken in tricky lighting. If you want to go manual, use the Image>Adjustment>Color Balance controls. The Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation controls are NOT a good way to adjust color. I also use Image>Adjustments>Selective Color from time to time, when want to enhance one color.

If your colors are weak, which often happens if your images are also low contrast, use the Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation controls ONLY to adjust the color saturation. Ignore the Hue and Lightness sliders -- those jobs are done better with the Color Balance and Levels controls. You can also use the SPONGE tool to adjust the saturation up or down on just certain parts of your image. So, if your tomatoes are weak, but everything else is good, you can punch up the color of the tomatoes. Of course, for a throwdown, you need to be careful not to make your foods look better than they really look. Use good judgement when you do any selective tweaking.

That's what comes to mind right now. Perhaps other Photoshop users will have some more tips, and people who use other programs can help translate. Ask questions if you have them, but the best way to learn this stuff is to do it. Watch some YouTube tutorials, and practice.

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:46 PM   #43
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I've had some people PM me about what I think of certain cameras. I would love to help, but I only keep up with the kinds of cameras that I can use to make money with -- basically professional cameras. I worked my way through college at a camera store, but that was back when the earth was cooling, and digital referred to the fingers on your hands.

I buy a lot of my expendables online, but I buy my cameras from a local professional dealer, even though it costs me more to do that. They know I am a Nikon Professional, and if my D3 stops working, they will loan me another D3 while they get mine fixed. They take good care of me. That's worth something.

Buying your camera from a local camera store, and I'm not talking Best Buy, but a real camera store, is worth it, IMO. They will take time to help you make a good choice, and they will teach you how to use your new camera, and they will talk to you when you have a problem figuring out how to do something with your camera.

I will give a plug to one under $500 camera -- one I just bought, and really like. I need a compact camera to get into tight places on the classic cars I photograph. I recently added a Canon G12 to my camera gear, and I am very impressed with it. A lot of pros are doing the same.

I may just use it for my next throwdown entry, just for grins. It's not likely to hurt my odds of winning, which are pretty slim even with the D3.

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:59 PM   #44
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I have an invaluable tip to share.

Do not take pics of your food inside of a SPAM bowl.

That is all.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:12 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigabyte View Post
I have an invaluable tip to share.

Do not take pics of your food inside of a SPAM bowl.

That is all.
That goes without saying. You'd have to be a moron to do that.

CD
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