Thanks to photo apps like Instagram, and to our current culture of capture-and-overshare enthusiasm, I can no longer sit down to a meal without snapping a photo of the food. If you take a look at the various tags on Instagram related to the things that people consume throughout the day (#food #eats #noms) you’ll see that I am not alone in the habitual photographing of my meals.
But outside of the realm of iPhonography, there is also a thriving professional food photography world. Yes, this is an actual job that many fortunate (and talented!) folks have managed to carve out for themselves. While some great cooking glossies have gone by the wayside (RIP Gourmet), there is no shortage of outlets for professional photographers to showcase (and cash in on) their work online and in print.
Professional food photographers may make their deliciously-staged shots look simple, but the craft of capturing food is no easy feat. Even someone well versed in the other genres of photography will have to relearn the rules when shooting subjects as fickle as couscous or cheeseburgers. And reflective subjects like glasses full of bubbly can offer significant challenges in improper lighting.
So with those sorts of challenges in mind, I’ve asked Brooklyn-based food photographer, Nicole Franzen, to share her tips for shooting food, including advice on equipment, lighting, styling and composition. Nicole runs the gorgeous food and lifestyle blog, La Buena Vida, and her photo clients include Bon Appétit, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn Magazines, and Gramercy Tavern, among many others.
Below are Nicole’s tips on the craft of photographing food. Grab a fork and dig in!
Canon EOS 60D
Text and Images by Lynne Eodice
Video by Dennis Eodice
The EOS 60D is Canon’s most recent digital SLR aimed at the enthusiast/serious shooter market, and is the next generation of the EOS 50D. This camera is a good upgrade for photographers seeking to move into more professional territory, beyond, say, the entry-level Canon EOS Rebel T2i. But it’s so user-friendly right out of the box that photo hobbyists can easily go from a point-and-shoot camera to shooting with the 60D.
Overview of Features
The 60D features an APS-C sized 18-megapixel CMOS sensor (as compared to the 50D’s 15MP), and a new DIGIC 4 Image Processor. I was impressed with the quality and color rendition of the images I captured, especially compared to those taken with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel from several years back. The 60D also offers an ISO range from 100 to 6400. This can even be expanded to ISO 12800 to shoot under extremely dimly lit conditions. But for most low-light situations that you’re likely to encounter, ISO 6400 is more than adequate, and ISO 12800 is bound to reveal digital noise.
Canon EOS 60D
click thumbnails to enlarge
The 60D’s mode dial offers the typical standard basic scene zone (including Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports and Night Portrait modes), as well as a basic zone (Full Auto, Flash Off, and Creative Auto), and a creative zone (P, Tv, Av, M and B) for more advanced shooting. What I really appreciated was the addition of the more conveniently located on/off switch right under the mode dial (with my other Canon EOS cameras, this switch is located on the bottom right side on the back of the camera). There’s also a lock button in the center of the dial to prevent accidental operation.
ISO 100, 400, 3200, 6400
click thumbnails to enlarge
Canon has switched from a AF-point-selecting joystick in the EOS 50D to a multi-control dial on the back of the 60D. With this dial, I found it very easy to scroll through images that I had previously photographed and to change the auto-focusing points. You can also correct white balance, move the AF frame or the magnifying frame during Live View shooting.
The 60D is also the first EOS DSLR to include a 3-inch Vari-Angle LCD monitor, which flips out from the back of the camera body. It allows you to set menu functions, do Live View shooting, shoot video, and play back images and video. You can also rotate the angle of the LCD monitor, which is a great tool for times when you want to shoot a subject that’s positioned low to the ground (but when you don’t want to get down low yourself), or when you want to shoot over the heads of a crowd and actually see what you’re shooting. I set several menu selections and really enjoyed playing back my images on this screen. The only issue I had was with shooting still images with the Live View screen. I found that auto-focusing operated slower when using Live View than when I used the viewfinder.
The Ambience option in the basic scene modes is a new feature in the 60D. For example, you can choose from vivid, soft, warm, intense, cool and brighter settings. Each ambience is a modification of the respective shooting mode’s image characteristics. You can also select the “Lighting or Scene Type,” which is very similar to a list of white balance presets.
Also new are the Creative Filters, which enables you to apply Grainy black-and-white (seen above), Soft Focus, Toy Camera, or Miniature filter effects to an image in-camera and save it as a new file. I had fun with several of these (particularly Grainy BW). The 60D offers a RAW conversion mode too, which allows for a range of camera settings like Auto Light Optimizer, Noise Reduction, White Balance and Picture Style to be applied to a RAW file.
This camera also offers the ability to tag your images, which makes it easy to find and filter your photos, or as a way to organize slide shows. These tags are also accessible through the supplied software or even third-party packages like Adobe Lightroom and Bridge.
One of the ways you can purchase the 60D is in a kit with an EFS 18–135mm f/3.5-f.6 IS (image stabilizing) lens. I put the camera and this lens through its paces at several local scenic areas. To begin with, I found the camera easy to handle and on the lightweight side (especially compared to my sturdier EOS 5D Mark II). I used some of the basic scene modes (Landscape, Action, and Close-up), as well as the Av and Tv modes. I found that the image stabilizer enabled me to get sharp images without using my tripod, and several times I was shooting indoors in rather low light. I also enjoyed experimenting with a few of the Creative Filters after the shoot.
The D60 is capable of shooting full High Definition (1920×1080) and (1280×720), as well as Standard Definition (640×480) and (Crop 640×480) movies. My videographer husband shot video with this camera, and was impressed by the sharpness he got, even with moving subjects. The camera has several manual controls—shutter, aperture, ISO speed and audio recording—which allow you to customize your videos. Another plus is the camera’s capability to use an external microphone for greater audio quality. The only limitations are the lack of true AF and automatic zoom. The maximum recording time for one movie clip is 29 minutes and 59 seconds.
Overall, I found the Canon EOS 60D to be a great and highly user-friendly camera. The image quality is wonderful, it has great ergonomics, and an awesome feature set.
ISO 100-6400, expand to 12,800 with a custom function
Auto pop-up E-TTL II auto flash, Live View, Creative Filters
Canon EF mount; Compatible lenses: Canon EF lenses (including EF-S lenses)
(35mm-equivalent focal length is approx. 1.6x the lens focal length)
EOS 60D Body, Eyecup Eb, Wide Strap EW-EOS 60D, USB Interface Cable IFC-130U, Stereo AV cable AVC-DC400ST, Battery Pack LP-E6, Battery Charger LC-E6, EOS Digital Solution Disc and Instruction Manuals “Great Photography is Easy” Booklet and “Do More with Macro” Booklet
Rechargeable Lithium-Ion LP-E6 battery; Built in battery (date/time backup); Optional AC adapter
The Extra Perspective That Takes an Image From Amateur to Professional
Text and Photos by Lynne Eodice
By changing your camera’s viewpoint, you can create a powerful effect over the visual impact of your images. The same scene can appear very different depending on whether you choose to photograph it from above, below or at eye level. For a little variety, try climbing a few stairs or find an upper-level viewpoint to shoot down on a subject, or squat low or even lie down to angle your camera upward. And don’t think that you have to include the entire scene in your pictures.
Remember that an eye-level angle conveys realism and an everyday appearance of a subject — it’s the way we usually see the world. Most of us tend to spot and shoot subjects from an eye-level, straight ahead point of view. We look down at wildflowers, out at the ocean, and up at the sky. Sometimes, in order to create interesting, more original images, you’ll want to alter this viewpoint.
Gary Fong has announced that their new GearGuard Lens Lock for Canon and Nikon brand lenses is now available. At $29.95, these locks are meant to give the pro photographer security and peace of mind when out in the field. “Once the Lens Lock is attached to the camera’s rear optic, the irremovable device renders the lens useless to thieves,” according to the manufacturer. ” When twisted into place, the Lens Lock releases ‘teeth’ that anchor the security cap to the bayonet on the lens mount for a flawless fit. Made of industrial strength plastic, the Lens Lock can be paired with the GearGuard Security Cable and Combination Lock and attached to a secure anchor point for safe storage or attached to other gear inside a camera bag for added protection and loss prevention.”
Nikon announced today the latest addition to the COOLPIX lineup of compact digital cameras—the P7000. The 10MP advanced compact follows the COOLPIX P6000 (reviewed here), although with its array of protruding knobs and more professional design, this new Nikon seems to have a similar look to the Canon PowerShot G series (G11 reviewed here). However, if the viewfinder on the P7000 is better than the G11′s (which wouldn’t be tough to beat), this would be a real contender in my book for an ideal high performance compact.
The P7000 aims to attract the professional photographer and new photo enthusiast alike, as it offers pro-level features such as Full Manual Controls (PSAM), RAW file function, 5-Way Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization System and a 7.1x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens (28-200mm f/2.8-5.6), as well as features like Scene Auto Selector for those less comfortable with Manual shooting. The P7000 will be available for $499.95 in late September. More info and images from Nikon below.