"exposure compensation"

Food Photography – Lesson 11


With all the wonderful holidays coming up, who doesn't want to take great pictures to remember all the delicious foods they took so long to prepare! This lesson will help you capture how truly YUMMY all the food was - and make others envious they weren't there to share it with you!

Food photography is both fun and challenging. After all, if people don’t get hungry after seeing your photos, it’s back to the drawing board again. When I take pictures of food, I want it to seem so real that you can almost reach out and take a bite! Think about all the great advertisements for food. A larger-than-life hamburger, dripping with Ketchup, might be pictured. Make people want to eat what’s in your photos! …How is this done? In this lesson, I’ll share several tips with you. Try them and see if your food photography doesn’t look good enough to eat!


1. Put camera on tripod. I know, I know. It takes extra time and bother, but if you want great food pictures, this is one of the easiest ways to learn what looks best. By attaching the camera to a tripod, you will be able to run back and forth from the camera to the food without losing your “perfect angle”. This way, you can arrange food according to what you actually see through the camera lens.

2. If certain foods don’t stand out enough in the image, prop them up. Flat foods especially benefit from this.

3. We eat with our eyes first. Everyone has heard this at some time or other. If all the food on the plate is a shade of tan or brown, the likelihood is that it won’t look very appealing! So, use different colors and textures and make them complimentary. Try tying things together with a coordinating napkin and table cloth. A good eye for colors comes in handy here. Use other props too! Create scenes where food is the star.

4. Get the white balance right. Oreos with a dirty, yellowish filling don’t look appetizing! One tip here is, “Don’t use a lamp, the room lights, and a window to light your food unless you’re going for a special effect.” Doing this will lead to pictures with orange or blue color casts and unrealistic-looking, off-color food photos.



5. Don’t underexpose the food! Too-dark shots can’t compete with bright, well-lit scenes. Use exposure compensation to your advantage!

6. On-camera flash usually spoils the shot. The best lighting for food often comes from the sides and back.

7. Once you've “gotten the shot” don’t stop! Experiment with different angles…above, down low, up close, even underneath for some foods! Try getting some macro shots and then go for the full picture.

8. Add some action!


9. Some food benefits greatly from a “this is fresh” look. Spray water droplets onto this kind of food. If you need more time to take the picture and the water droplets won’t last long enough, try spraying food with olive oil cooking spray.

10. Experiment with different apertures to focus attention on a certain part of the image.


11. Don’t show ugly food. If there’s a little problem spot, try covering it with a complementary garnish such as cracked pepper, herbs, berries, green onions, sliced peppers, lemons, limes, mushrooms, and fruit. Don’t just stick it on. Be creative with the garnish cutting and arranging. Make it complementary. For dry meat, brush on a bit of dark Karo syrup. It’ll help add moisture and color. Don’t show fatty meat (Ugh!) or under-cooked or overcooked meat. If you wouldn't want to eat it, it won’t be a good subject!

12. In soups or stews, people want to see all the wonderful bits and pieces. The problem is, these chunks of food will sink down into the bottom of the dish and not show in the picture. The remedy: add a false bottom in the soup bowl to prop up the yummy chunks.

Have fun!




P.S. Remember to get a picture of the family around the table before everyone digs in, the table gets messy, the wonderful food creations are devoured, and everyone stuffs themselves to bursting.


"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein 
with thanksgiving."
Colossians 2:6-7




Lesson 7 - Light, Part 1


Three things that are needed to make a great photograph:

  1. Superb light
  2. An interesting subject
  3. Dynamic composition            


We will be talking about the first component, light, in the next two lessons.

Light is very important to photography, but so often is taken for granted. Without light, we wouldn’t be able to use our cameras. If we can learn how to use light to our advantage, we will have come a long way.
Understanding light is critical when creating amazing photography.

We will be talking about five kinds of light in this lesson:

1. Hard light. This light is the harsh sunlight we get during most of the day when the sun is overhead. It is hard to learn how to use this light well.

This light is boring!
The hard, harsh light of midday is the least flattering kind of light.




2. Side lighting. When the sun is low in the sky, we can use side lighting 
in our pictures if we place the sun at our left or right hand.

Side lighting showcases the many textures in the world around us.



Side lighting is MUCH more interesting than the harsh light at noon or the flat light we get if we shoot with the sun coming from behind us


3. Backlighting your subject is a wonderful way to use light.
Try including the sun in the photo or, try using a tree, cloud, person, or flower to cover the sun.


Since the camera is often fooled into making the picture too light and overexposed when bright sky or the sun is in the picture, remember to use exposure compensation!


Here's another example of backlighting.


4. An example of Diffused light would be the kind of light we get on a cloudy day. It’s a soft light that wraps around the subjects in our pictures. With this kind of light it’s much easier not to have harsh shadows and blown out highlights.
Diffused light is great for close-ups and pictures with no sky in them. The super saturated colors you are able to get in this light make flowers and fall leaves look great.



This is an example of the soft, diffused light on a cloudy day. It can be great for portraits. Make sure to set your white balance to Cloudy so people's skin tones look right!

5. Reflected light is a fun kind of light to search for.
Look for it in water, canyons, puddles, ice, and many other places. You’ll certainly be rewarded and get some cool photographs along the way!


So, there you have it - the 5 types of light! Why not look for each of these kinds of light during this next week? It'll be good practice and you'll gain a new appreciation for the beauty and variety of the ever-changing light around us. Just think! God designed it all! (and out of nothing at that!) Wasn't He creative? Random chance would never have a chance to create something so absolutely amazing as our world!

Enjoy the day!
Laura

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"
Psalm 8:3-4


Exposure Compensation, Flash Compensation and the Camera Manual - Lesson 3

In the last two lessons and the next four, we are working to construct a solid base of camera knowledge to build on in the lessons following this group of six. Then we can concentrate on maximizing our creativity. As always, we must learn the basics first to have the most fun (and the easiest journey!) later.

Lesson 3

Today we’ll cover 3 things: Exposure Compensation, Flash Exposure Compensation, and the camera manual. If you don’t think these subjects sound fascinating, keep reading anyway. The information in this lesson is another important building block on the road to success!


Exposure Compensation:

I use this setting all the time except in Manual mode. It is one of the most useful settings on my camera. Exposure Compensation is used to make a picture brighter or darker than the camera “thinks” it should be. 

Why do we need this setting? After all, the camera is smart, isn’t it? 
Here’s why: 
The camera tries to make everything a medium tone. (It’s called 18% gray, for those who like specifics.J) The camera doesn’t like bright white – it tries to make bright white things (like snow) a dirty gray.  

 The snow looks much better when Exposure Compensation is used!

 The camera doesn't like deep, dark things (like black kittens) either – it tries to make black things too light.

 Here again, using Exposure Compensation for this image saves the day.
Without a brain, the camera doesn’t know that the kitten is black, not gray and that snow, white walls, and white paper are white and not gray. This is why you have to step in and help the camera.

Exposure Compensation is usually designated by a button or a function with a plus and minus (+/-) symbol. Press the button or select the function and you should see something like this:
-2 . . 1 . . 0 . . 1 . . +2
l
Move the little line marker under the diagram to the left to make your picture turn out darker. Move the line over to the right to make your whites whiter. (Check the camera manual if you’re having trouble figuring out how to do this.)


Flash Exposure Compensation:

Flash Exposure Compensation has the same idea behind it as Exposure Compensation with the only difference being that Flash  Exposure Compensation relates to the flash output but Exposure Compensation relates to the exposure, no matter if the flash is used or not. 

By using Flash Exposure Compensation when you use the camera’s flash, you can control how bright the flash is (how much light it puts out). If you move the Flash Compensation mark over to the left to somewhere around -1, the flash photo won’t have the ugly, un-natural flash highlights that plague photographers. 

Each situation is different. Through practice, you will figure out how to set the Flash Compensation to best create the needed fill light in the picture and not end up with glaring or blown-out highlights on the subject and harsh, black shadows in the background as in the picture below.

The secret to beautiful flash photography is to balance the flash with the ambient light in the room.


Flash is very useful outside also! In some of the future lessons, I'll explain how to make many kinds of exciting photos using your camera flash outside and inside.


A review:

  • Flash often looks ugly if it isn't used properly.
  • Use Flash Exposure Compensation so flash doesn't overpower natural light
  • Look for a plus and minus symbol with a lightning strike beside it – this is where to control the flash.
  • Try starting at -1 for the Flash Exposure Compensation, but don’t be afraid to experiment to find the best setting for each circumstance.


The Camera Manual

Guess what! It’s high time you read and understood your camera manual.

How to do it:
  • One chapter a day – take it slowly, but get all the way through it. Yes, it’s boring! But it is worth it.
  • Review the manual once a year.
  • Make sure you know how to use everything on your camera. If you don’t know what it’s for, look it up in the manual!
  • If you’re stuck, I’ll explain anything you don’t understand!
  • Practice what you learn until the technical side of photography is second nature. This way you can concentrate on capturing the moments and translate your feelings into pictures.
  • I encourage you to set a goal of spending time each week with your camera. You will become a better photographer.

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, 
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:9-10