In the digital era, there are a lot of people who photograph appetizing food before they eat it, and I get a lot of people asking me how to make these pictures better. The secret to food photography, from a photographer’s point of view, is lighting. Good light brings out color and contrast and texture. Soft, dark, contrast free light hides all of the above — the very same romantic light that makes you look good makes your food look bad.
So, what to do? It’s probably not a good idea to whip out an octobox every time you make chili, and whatever you do you should avoid being rude at a restaurant, but if you’re whipping out the camera anyway, you can probably make small efforts to find a bit better light. You’re generally going for a low angle, bright and somewhat soft.
The picture below, of delicious hake chowder by Rochelle Bilow, was taken by the iPhone in a dark kitchen. I knew that would spell muddy disaster, so I opened up my nearby laptop, opened a blank browser page, and moved it in close. Still a cameraphone shot, but much better.
Table candles are often too dim and harsh to be good for this, but they’re better than nothing. Any bright-screened cell phone or media device can stand out in a dark room. If you’re near a window, you can try moving the dish a bit closer. To use these dim
Light sources you will usually need a fairly high ISO setting, which is where bog, expensive cameras tend to excel. But remember that the problem with muddy, unappetizing food shots is mostly in the light, not the camera.
(posted via iPhone)