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Spices of Good Food Photography

Indranil Mukherjee
31/03/2020 0 0

I remember I was in my primary school when I first attempted to cook food. The food didn't turn out well that day, but it ignited the urge of taking up cooking in due course of time. Slowly, I mastered the art, and now, I have a shortlist of my specialities which are acclaimed mouthwatering preparation amongst my family and close friend circle. Before few years, I was going through a photography magazine, a quite globally acclaimed one. When I turned a page over, to reach the centre spread, it was a full-scale food photo, A fantastic decorative platter of juicy fruits, with ice creams and melted chocolates sliding over them. It was so tempting, that I was awestruck, and I realized, my mouth actually responded to the image by watering. That was the day, when I realized, apart from cooking, there is one more art to make your mouth water. I have been practising the new architecture and found there are some tips to follow, which makes the outcome pretty impressive. Let's hit the secret recipe of mouthwatering food photography.
The first thing, the prime most important is the passion deep within. This is why I started the write up from the first attempt to cook. It's the passion that drives the will power. If you consider a food photographer as a chef, the desire is like the flame of the gas oven needed to cook.
The device to be used for photography is a very tricky affair, I must say. With the advent of Mobile Technology and its increasing capabilities of the camera, we find most of the food bloggers solely relying on a mobile device. It's compact, easy to carry, convenient, and easy o share across social media. Now you have Snapseed, and mobile Adobe PS versions to even edit them instantly. But its performance takes a back step when there is low light. The grains increase and image quality are compromised—the fixed lens of mobile works mostly auto with limited manual controls. If you consider the DSLR users, the approach is different. The investment on the device, which is exclusively only for photography, adds a level of seriousness. The photographer then gets the power of interchangeable lenses, manual control, and even the option of mirrorless. The RAW format capture allows further post-processing for a better quality of the final image. But, you have to see both sides of the coin. With this preference, you will always have to carry a piece of extra baggage. The maintenance of a DSLR is high and expensive. So, the pros and cons are in both the formats of the device. The choice is yours. Because people will eat the food and judge the chef, they are least bothered with the utensils in use.
Let's start by picking up a subject to click. You open up the fridge to start with some vegetables. You find some cauliflower, beans, carrots, etc. No way, the frozen products have already lost their texture. Plan it and fetch something fresh. Irrespective of what subject, make sure, you have the food as much freshly as possible. Sprinkle some water with a sprayer too. It looks good. Aforementioned is a technique I see all the vegetable vendors use across the market.
No matter which genre of photography you do, lighting is the key to success. In food photography, it's essential to make the food look edible. So controlling the shadows is very necessary. As you set the light, select the perspective to click, so that the light falls at 45 degrees across the food. Avoid placing the light direction. The best arrangement is to set up the food beside an east window on a sunny day with diffused glass panes.
Before you click, make sure you have a clear strategy of all the content of your frame. If your key subject is cooked food, make sure it's not fully cooked. That keeps the ingredients easily noticeable. Also, make sure you choose the cutlery wisely. All the utensils must be clean and without any fingerprints or stains. Add some raw spices as a prop. Do not add too much; keep it simple; do not clutter the composition. The composition must be so well planned that the viewer must see the leading food in focus first, and then explore the frame in search of its support. You may even add some human element to it if you want. We usually find a tea company making its product shoots with a person's hand pouring the tea. That adds a story that the viewer can relate to. But still, the composition is so well planned that your eyes first get hooked to the tea and the teabag box.
We always ask a successful person who is his or her idol. It's like a supporting force that stays backstage to give momentum to success. In food photography, that support is the background. It's essential to have a contrast yet complementing background. In this aspect, we still refer to the colour wheel concept invented by Sir Issac Newton. Take some raw wooden plan, a used cutting board, a banana leaf, etc.
Now, your subject is set, light is right, composed, the background is also looking fine, all set. You got your device and clicked the shutter. Curious you immediately transferred the image on a big screen and noticed some blur in it—nothing to get disappointed with. The device has no problem; it just needs some more instruction. Try to retake the shoot, but this time, add some more precautions to your attempt. Try to change the settings with some more shutter speed. Hold your camera steady, if required, use a tripod or a Pixi. If the option is there, then go for a remote click or set timer to the camera. It helps as it even reduces the slightest shake of the camera.
You transferred the file again and found the image is no more blur, but the green tone of the raw capsicum is not the same green. Go back again and check the camera settings. Shift the file type from JPEG to RAW. Nowadays, even a few mobile phones allow clicking in RAW format. The RAW form captures all information, and hence the file size is also much large. Since the RAW format has all the information, it gives you the preference to work on all aspects of the image in post-processing. Work on the white balance. Some even consider it in Kelvin format or the temperature, whichever way you call the processing mode.
Now, the green in precisely the way the real capsicum looks. But, you are still not that happy. You want the food to pop out from the photo as if it's one step closer to the mouth of the viewer. Try to change the lens to a macro lens. Nowadays, portable lenses for mobile phones are also available. Work on the aperture setting, and bring it low. With this, the depth of field will increase.
Once again, the image is up on the big screen laptop. You find the portion of the food-focused which you don't intend to. The best solution to this is tethering. Connect the camera to your laptop r desktop, and use tethering mode to focus precisely where you want and click. Make sure the camera has a single point focus. A tethering mode gives you room to compose better, since you can see the final product on the big screen directly, before clicking the image.
Finally, it's ready to be served. First make the image your desktop wallpaper so that every time you open your laptop, you get hungry.

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