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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 03-29-2011, 11:53 AM   #16
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caseydog, tell me about the lens, camera settings, etc.

GREAT post, thanks!!
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokinOkie View Post
caseydog, tell me about the lens, camera settings, etc.

GREAT post, thanks!!
I have a Nikon D3 and use Nikon's best lenses -- my favorite is the 28-70 F2.8. But, almost any decent camera will work for posting on a thread. And, if you are shooting with window light, and all you have is a point and shoot camera, you should still get good results.

I also have strobes and large softboxes to light with, but a large window works just fine.

If you can control your exposures, and want that trendy soft/hard focus look, just set your camera fro aperture priority and choose a large aperture (low number).

90-percent of my pro work is automotive photography, so food is still a little bit out of my field, so I tend to shoot a lot of images at various apertures and pick my favorite shots on the computer. With cars, I know what I'm going to get before a pull the trigger, but food, not so much.

Which leads to my favorite tip -- shoot a lot of frames. it's digital, so it doesn't cost anything to shoot fifty frames. Of course, when I,m shooting my own food for no pay, I tend to put little time into it, and dive into the food. So, I'm not always happy with the results.

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Old 03-29-2011, 10:13 PM   #18
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Great thread!

Is anyone here using Lightroom? While I haven't done any food shots yet, Lightroom has become my go-to software for initial processing and then take it to Photoshop for any necessary touchups.
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:36 AM   #19
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Great post , I needed this help .
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:38 AM   #20
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I've got on DSLR and getting a new one (Canon 7D). I was a professional sports photographer, but STILL subjects is new to me. I just need to cook on weekend and practice some photos.

Trying to work through:

1. When (like never) I can/should use the flash on camera?
2. Lighting. Direct light vs Flash vs Freestanding lights
3. Composition. Looking at getting more layout effort into the end shot.
4. OFF of the Automatic mode. I'm lazy, it's easy to use the auto settings, but I need to put more time/effort into changing Apeture, ISO, etc.

Appreciate all the help. I was one of the ones that asked for this thread and it's VERY helpful.

Russ
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokinOkie View Post
I've got on DSLR and getting a new one (Canon 7D). I was a professional sports photographer, but STILL subjects is new to me. I just need to cook on weekend and practice some photos.

Trying to work through:

1. When (like never) I can/should use the flash on camera?
2. Lighting. Direct light vs Flash vs Freestanding lights
3. Composition. Looking at getting more layout effort into the end shot.
4. OFF of the Automatic mode. I'm lazy, it's easy to use the auto settings, but I need to put more time/effort into changing Apeture, ISO, etc.

Appreciate all the help. I was one of the ones that asked for this thread and it's VERY helpful.

Russ
1. If you can use your flash off-camera, with a cord or wireless device, you can do a little "studio " set up.

2. I have a 24X36 lightbox I use for food, but a good source of natural (indirect) sunlight works fine. Given the choice on all of my photography, I like to work with Mother Nature, if possible. I only break out the strobes when I need to.

3. Look at professional food photographer sites and mimic what they do. After a while, you will "get it" and start composing better shots automatically.

4. If you are going to use automatic, as I often do, then use aperture priority, and let the camera choose the shutter speed. That way, you can get creative with your depth of field -- choosing to go all sharp to highlight several courses/beverages, or focus on the main ingredient, letting the "supporting cast" go soft.

Be careful how much you change your ISO. Expensive professional cameras can handle 3,200 ISO and still make a nice image. Most consumer cameras can't... yet. Experiment to find out how far you can push it without too much noise.
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:02 AM   #22
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I think there’s some really great tips on this thread. So many that I’m having a hard time trying to think of how I might contribute here.

After a couple of Throwdown wins I figured I might be doing something right with the pron so maybe I can give a little back to the Brethren here. Please keep in mind that I’m not a professional photographer but rather an amateur photographer who spent a couple of years shooting pics back in high school as a yearbook photographer and later took a class in college.

One thing that no one seems to have touched upon here is focusing (probably because it seems so basic). I know several people that don’t know how to properly focus or have no idea that their cameras need time to focus properly. The other day my friend told me that he wants to replace his 2-year old point & shoot because it doesn’t take clear pictures. I asked him if he just aims and pushes the button down fully in one motion. He confirmed that is exactly what he does.

I proceeded to tell him how to focus his camera properly by only pressing the shutter down halfway and looking for some indication in the viewfinder or display that should indicate it is focused before pushing it the rest of the way.

Here’s a shot of the display on my relatively cheap 4 yr old Nikon Coolpix L11 point & shoot:



When it’s locked in-focus, the AF (Auto-Focus) indicator is green and the brackets in the center are solid.

I asked him if he pays any attention anything blinking or flashing on his display or viewfinder (answer “no”). Now I know he is not alone as someone who lives under my roof and who shall remain nameless (hint: not me or the dog) has these exact same habits.

Before I say anything else that could get me in trouble, let’s move on to another area. Let’s talk about lighting. Now like most people here, I think food looks great in natural light. Unfortunately, many of us find our throwdown entries are for dinner and come off the cookers when the sun has set. At that point we’re taking the dish inside and subjecting it to overhead lighting, built-in flashes, mounted flashes, etc… Once you’re inside it helps to have multiple options and to take a lot of different pics using the different options so you can see what looks best.

To illustrate some different lighting options, here’s some examples using of a plate of fruit I assembled:


Using my Point & Shoot


No flash (but on a tri-pod - no way this shot would have been this clear without the tri-pod):


Built-In Flash (looks a bit overexposed at this distance):


After a quick exposure compensation adjustment (there’s a +/- button on my point & shoot):


Using the normal flash settings but stepping back a couple of feet and simply zooming in:




Using my DSLR (Canon Rebel XT – 6 yr old entry level DSLR)


Built-In Flash:


Mounted Flash (speedlite 430 EX):


Mounted Flash with a diffuser (softens the flash) angled at 45 degrees:


Mounted Flash – no diffuser but light bounced off the ceiling:


Now the differences in the DSLR shots above are pretty subtle but having a mounted flash gives you many additional options over the built-in flash.

While on the topic of equipment, I’ll focus more on what I use for my throwdown pics:



Canon Rebel XT with EFS 18-55 mm lens
Canon Speedlite 430 EX flash
Sto-fen omni bounce diffuser
Slik Pro 714 CFII tripod

As others above have posted, most food pics look best when shot with the camera at low number apertures and using the Macro program mode – usually a little flower symbol on the point & shoots and DSLRs I’ve used, is one way to set it. If you want to see the minute details this is one way to get it.



However, the low number apertures have a shallow depth of field which causes things further or closer away than what you’re focusing on to blur. More often than not, I’d say this is a desired effect but sometimes when you’re so close you could be blurring out parts of your dish that you’d like to be sharp.

Here’s some examples to illustrate:

Taken at f/4.0 – my lunch and dish prepared for the By Brethren For Brethren throwdown – the burnt ends in the center and the slices of the flat look pretty sharp but I really wanted to show off the great Brethren products in the background.


F-Stop f/22 – my TD entry – I closed down the aperture which allowed for a greater depth of field and a more uniform sharpness.


F-Stop f/4.0 – some burnt ends I cooked the other day, the camera appears to have focused on the right side and many of the ends are blurred.


F-Stop f/9 – I closed the aperture somewhat increasing the number of clear ends yet still allowing for some blurring effect.


Now in the first shot of the burnt ends, I mentioned the camera focused on the right side. If don’t think I had intended that and apparently didn’t pay attention to which focal point lit up upon focus. As far as I know all DSLRs have many points at which they can focus and in the right modes (I can’t specify a focal point on my Canon when set for full auto), you can specify which focal point to use rather than allowing the camera to decide for you.

In this shot of a flower in my yard, my first picture focused on one of the petals when I really wanted the stamen to be sharp so I selected the center focal point and reshot this.


I would imagine there’s other topics that could be expanded upon but I think I’ve rambled on long enough. Hope some of this may be of some help.
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:55 PM   #23
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Good advice. I just use my Iphone camera when I take the pix and use medium file size. it works great for me. I dont break out my pro gear.
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Old 04-16-2011, 04:46 PM   #24
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Never underestimate Photoshop. I love Photoshop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R2Egg2Q View Post

To illustrate some different lighting options, here’s some examples using of a plate of fruit I assembled:

Using my Point & Shoot, no flash...

After a five minute trip to Photoshopland...
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Old 04-16-2011, 04:49 PM   #25
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BTW, I wasn't dissing R2Egg2Q's photo, I just don't have a point and shoot, so I had to use someone else's point and shoot photo as an example.

If you can't afford a digital SLR, or the full Photoshop software, Photoshop Elements will do everything I did on the above image, and the software costs less than 100 bucks.

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Old 04-17-2011, 11:00 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
BTW, I wasn't dissing R2Egg2Q's photo, I just don't have a point and shoot, so I had to use someone else's point and shoot photo as an example.

If you can't afford a digital SLR, or the full Photoshop software, Photoshop Elements will do everything I did on the above image, and the software costs less than 100 bucks.

CD
Wow, that looks great CD! I should really invest some time into learning how to use Photoshop Elements for more than just cataloging my photos.
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:54 AM   #27
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Great info and tips... thanks!
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:52 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
Never underestimate Photoshop. I love Photoshop.

After a five minute trip to Photoshopland...
Looks great, you might have to tell us more about that trip, what you did.
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Old 06-22-2011, 09:26 AM   #29
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Another bump. My compact digital decided to permanently malfunction, so it is time for a new camera. I think I have narrowed my research to the Cannon G12 and the Olympus XZ-1. Both received good reviews, and are priced the same, but I was hoping that some of you photography buffs might give some advice.
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Old 06-22-2011, 03:16 PM   #30
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Quote:
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Another bump. My compact digital decided to permanently malfunction, so it is time for a new camera. I think I have narrowed my research to the Cannon G12 and the Olympus XZ-1. Both received good reviews, and are priced the same, but I was hoping that some of you photography buffs might give some advice.
Phil has a thorough reviews with photo samples of both of those cameras at www.dpreview.com. While I'm a big fan of Canon, the Olympus appears to produce better images at that camera level.
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