Food Photography [General]

2009 Aug 25
Does anyone know have experience with food photography - especially recommendations for lighting, and angles that work well for cooking shots.

I've been doing stop action cooking videos (you can see them at and want to take it up a notch or two.

Initially I was using a 2M pixel web cam (that interpolates to 8M pixel) and animation software - but the auto-focus and lack of control on depth of field were a problem. The animation software was great however for both onion skinning and creating sequences.

I've move onto a remote controlled DSLR which solves those problems but selecting the right angles and getting good lighting remains an issue.

Ideas? Also what about lenses etc.

2009 Aug 25
Daily Dinner - Thinking your "technical" Questions might be better suited to a Photography Forum... although there are certainly some avid photographers here in the mix... most of us are just passionate about food (ok I grant it food porn gets us excited too).

Now if you want to discuss the merits of grilling vs broiling... then we are your folks.

2009 Aug 25
Do you know Ottawa's famous culinary artist Mrs. Margaret Dickenson? Her husband Mr. Larry Dickenson takes photos for her beautiful recipe books. His photos are amazing. Margaret has her official site and you might contact Larry and ask your technical questions... :)

2009 Aug 25
Pej Daddy might be able to address this one!

2009 Aug 25
Pej Daddy might be able to address this one!

Pej's advice to me on Sunday was exactly what I'd heard before: Light = good. Available light is your best friend. Other than that, he was basically saying that he uses fairly cheap equipment but is mostly concerned with lighting.

As for DSLR, if you're looking for a basic kit I'm a fan of the Nikon D40x...though some will swear by Canon (and I actually don't mind Canon now that I've played with it)

2009 Aug 25
first thing's first - you're using a Nikon, throw it in the garbage and buy yourself a Canon ;P

Angles - really a matter of personal preference and experimentation, especially since you will be using these for stop motion. get a tripod if you don't have one already.

Lighting - this can REALLY vary depending on your budget. natural lighting works well with food but given your environment you'll need a flash. if you are only using the "on-board flash" with the camera, i would recommended picking up an external/hot shoe flash. preferably a unit that can be aimed/bounced so you aren't directly 'flashing' the food. also look at getting a flash diffuser like a lightsphere or bounce card. you could also get a reflector to direct natural light.

Lenses - since this is largely indoors, look at getting a lens with a low f-stop, like f/2.8. lenses with low f-stops have the ability to allow more light into the camera and provide more flexibility when shooting in lower light situations.

read up on some forums to familiarize yourself with DSLR photography. one more piece of advice - before you commit to more accessories/tools SHOOT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. this way you will get to learn your current setup's limitations.

2009 Aug 25
Just did a GOOGLE search on - Food Photography - got an absolute ton of hits... including sites with technical info, Photography Schools that specialize, Forums, etc.

2009 Aug 25
Personal gripe time - why does everyone want to re-invent the wheel?! USE YOUTUBE FOR GOODNESS SAKES! Or at least use something that is tested and known to work in a variety of browsers ON A VARIETY OF PLATFORMS!!!

In other words - your videos do not work very well on Linux. They sort of play, but not fully. And not well.

2009 Aug 25
Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

I have looked at Google, and found many of the recommended sites useful. I was hoping that discussing options would be faster, and more fun, than reading and reading. (but I do that too)

On why not YouTube - That was a tough decision because it's easier and the hosting & bandwidth is free, but there are a ton of features in this player that make can make it very interesting for cooking video (embedded commenting, ability to send events to the page so I can update page info depending on where the viewer is in the video etc) which may be useful later. I expect the problems with the video are actually cross browser support issues - this is the first site I've written (a year ago I didn't know what mySQL was or how to configure Apache). Mostly I've focused on learning to implement functions not learning the intricacies of having the site look and act the same on different browsers/OS's.

The Margaret Dickenson lead is interesting. She is an inspiration. And her food presentations are always so artful and enticing.

On camera's I'm using a Pentax K100 and a Canon HF10 video camera with a fish eye lens. The Pentax has a god awful zoom (f4 is a fast as it goes) but it accepts older Pentax lenses and I have a 1.4F 50 which act like a 70 on the camera. Works ok but what I want to achieve is more of the enhanced detail found in food photography - and I'm pretty sure (based on what I've read) that that has to do with lighting/shadow and angles.

Thanks again for the suggestions. In future I'll keep my posts to food preparation - and the enjoyment that comes from consuming it, especially with friends.

2009 Aug 26
It does sound like a couple of lighting rigs may be the best way to solve your problem. I think that your "Nifty 50" lens should be more than enough to get great detail and some sweet blurry backgrounds.

While it's very easy to go overboard and spend a fair amount of money on lighting, I don't believe it has to be pricey. White cardboard and/or aluminum foil works wonders to reflect available light, if you can rig something up to hold them.

Me? I long for some Litepanels: But they're five hundred bucks each and there's no way I can do that right now ;)

2009 Aug 27
"In future I'll keep my posts to food preparation..."

Please don't feel that's necessary. I think this is a totally legit topic for these forums. I'm never happy with my own food photography and always like to read about tips, advice and technique, especially with so many accomplished photographers on this site.