Sunday, August 14, 2011

Food Photography Tips 2: Camera Settings for Food Photography

Welcome to Part 2 in a four-part food photography tutorial.  The four posts each address one of the following areas of food photography techniques: food photography lighting techniques, camera settings for Food Photography (this section), food photography composition, and food styling, and using props and backgrounds.

The food photography tricks and techniques below are targeted at beginners regardless of camera make and model, though they are written with owners of digital-point-and-shoot cameras in mind, in order to help them take higher quality photos with the equipment they already own.

BakerGal Food Photography Tutorial Part 2:

Camera Settings for Food Photography

Manual mode: The most important food photography tip for beginners is this: understand absolutely everything your camera can do. Let go of the safety net provided by presets like "fireworks mode" and "portrait mode" and instead start experimenting with the manual mode settings.

Macro: Find the macro setting on your camera and start getting really close to your food. If all you have is a point-and-shoot digital camera, macro is a great way to cheaply imitate some of the tight focus and depth of field you can achieve with more expensive cameras and lenses. Macro mode also lets you get close enough to show off the finer details of the food you're shooting.

ISO: When you increase or decrease the camera's ISO setting, you're modifying the sensitivity of the camera's light sensor. In general, you want to always use the lowest ISO setting possible (least light sensitive), as it will introduce the least digital noise/graininess to your photos. A setting of 100 is a good starting point for most bright settings. However, you'll find a higher ISO/increased light sensitivity may be needed to compensate for dim settings. Slowly bump up the ISO until you find a midpoint where you can capture a good photo with the least digital noise.

Shutter delay (from Food Photography Tutorial Part 1: Food Photography Lighting):
Shooting in low light is not ideal unless you have excellent equipment and a good knowledge of what you're doing. It can result in interesting shots, but most often it just means a grainy photo (see ISO settings, above) and blurriness, especially for beginners. A lot of blur in low light photos happens when the photographer fails to hold the camera steady or presses the button to take a photo causing camera shake. To prevent this, try using a tripod or level surface to steady the camera and use at least a 2 second shutter delay so the camera can settle between when you press the button and when it shoots the photo.

White balance: Again, this is another setting you can find in a camera's manual settings. When you're setting up the shot, place something white in the arrangement and take a look at it through your camera screen. If it looks blue or orange, you need to adjust the white balance settings. If you have access to photo-editing software, this can sometimes be adjusted later. But sometimes the wrong cannot be fully undone. It helps to do the best you can the first time around.

I hope you've found the food photography tips in Part 2 of the Food Photography Tutorial useful. For more food photography techniques, see part 3 and part 4 of the tutorial.