Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Food Photography tips and tricks- Part One

Techniques and tips

“Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved.”  Bill Brandt

That quote will get quite a few people very angry. You see there are two types of photographers, the artists and the techies. The artists make great photos while the techies try to fix the mediocre photos they’ve taken. That statement probably angered some people too. 

It has been this way for as long as I remember. Want proof? Read old issues of photography magazines. I remember back in the 70’s the debates were over which developer was better, which camera had the better built-in light meter and such. In the 80’s it was which camera had the better autofocus system. Then it was about the features. Now it’s all about the electronics. Why do camera manufacturers add so many bells and whistles to cameras? There are two reasons; one, because they can and two, because they want to sell you a new camera. Photo magazines report on equipment, and gush over it, because camera manufacturers advertise in them.

Ideally the camera should become an extension of your mind, a tool to capture what you see, that’s the art, but you need to know how to make it happen. That said, I can give you a few tips and techniques that work for me, but first let’s look at a few things cameras do differently than our eyes.

The camera does not see things quite the same as your eye does. This can be a disappointment at first when you try to make an image exactly as you see it, but it can make the photograph unique. The trick is to exploit these differences, but first you have to know why things happen so you can make them happen at will.
Selective Focus- Remember that term Depth of Field? You can exploit this to create a mood by either blurring the background or showing the background.

Selective brightness- Film, and sensors, can only ‘see’ in a certain range of light while the eye can see more range.

Telephoto versus wide-angle- There is a rather interesting effect caused by the focal length used. A telephoto lens give the impression of compressing the photo making the foreground and background appear closer together while a wide-angle lens makes the foreground and background appear further apart.

Angle of view- This is how you position the camera for the photograph. 

Dragging the Shutter- Here’s a neat trick to lighten, or darken the background when using flash on a DSLR. Your camera has a maximum shutter speed when using flash. This is usually no more than 1/200th sec and the default is usually 1/60th. The reason is the shutter has to cross the sensor and anything faster than the maximum would only give a partial exposure.

There is no minimum shutter speed when using flash. Using a slower speed allows more ambient light to be recorded and gives a brighter background. Using the higher shutter speed makes the background darker. Fast enough and the background can go to black.

We'll be looking at these soon, but first let's look at using available light and decide whether to flash or not to flash.

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