Year Two (34) – Learning your camera

Last night at the Old Bakery we had a go and capturing the moment with drops dripping and glasses smashing … there was only a limited number of people shooting due to the demands of the set up which meant there was a lot more time to talk to each other and to share knowledge … and to my amazement I was asked loads of questions about setting up the flash, and I actually knew a lot more than I thought I did, it was great to hear tonight that one of the newer members thought I was a pro 🙂 Made my evening!

Setting up the shot
Setting up the shot

This evening highlighted to me a lot …knowledge which a year ago I didn’t have…. and now I am glad I have… some of wish I am going to share: Continue reading

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Year Two (28) Food Photography

This week’s themed shoot at the Old Bakery is food photography, I have no idea what is planned as I am unable to tutor this week, so instead I decided I would try an Old Bakery food themed shoot at home and share it instead. There is a really simple post on food photography here – but I had an idea to try something a little bit different.

“The Old Bakery” is the perfect logo for a food photo – so I thought I would create something a little bit different and shoot my food in the dark using my Ipad as the background.

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My miniature fairy cakes

These were baked by my 16 year old daughter, I took them in manual mode at ISo100, F2.8, 1/200 sec with window light behind -this is my subject but I wanted to create something different without really using photoshop. One of the photographers who comes to the group commented recently that it was easy for us that knew how to edit, he wanted to get in in camera… so my thought was to capture food creatively in camera with the help of technology, but adding the artwork in camera.

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Behind the scenes – not very exciting!

So this is my set up – my dinning room table – my camera on a tripod with a flash trigger on top – a sheet of black paper with glass on top to make a reflection with the cakes on, my ipad with the logo I wanted on, and my flash with the trigger and a homemade snood (a piece of paper rolled round it to create a narrow beam of light).

The challenge was to get the blacks black, the whites white and the cake to show up… I experimented a little and ended up with 1/128th manual flash – ISO 124, F2.4 and 1/20th sec.

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Old Bakery Cakes – in camera no editing, except a square crop!

I then took the Old Bakery Image and inverted in (ctrl i) and took the same image again with a white background and changed the crop. The white image added more light to the image so I had to change the settings – I love the clean lines of the end result, and it is amazing that the set up is exactly the same as the above shot. The font is very soft, due to the shallow depth of field, and the light bleeding into each other – but I love it.

Settings ISO100, F2.8, 1/15sec and flash still 1/128th power. The only editing was a different crop and adding a border in photoshop.

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Old Bakery Ipad Image

I could not leave it there I had one more idea to try, what happens if you increase the aperture – less light enters the photo, which means that I can increase the shutter speed – which therefore means I can move the Ipad and drag it across the image to use it to paint light into the image – the moving Ipad adds the curving lines, and the flash at the start to the image lightens the cakes. The basic image was just 4 coloured stripes on a black screen.

ISO 100, F20, 4 sec exposure, ISO100 and 1/128th flash, and no editing other than to choose my crop, you can even see where my movement of the ipad was not completely smooth.

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Food photography with a moving Ipad background

I am looking forward to seeing what the group photographed and I would love to hear whether you have used your ipad as a image background before … it is definitely something I think would come in useful.

Year Two (23) – My first cake smash

On my photography wish list was a cake smash – and this week I pushed myself once again to tackle my very first cake smash and photoshoot in Freddie’s home… I knew what I wanted to achieve and it really dependent on whether Freddie would participate – but his mum was keen to have a go to and join in the adventure.

To make the shoot work – my top baby tips would be: Continue reading

Day 355 – Chocolate Pudding

My daughter’s been cooking, she is hosting a dinner party tonight – pudding looks amazing!

This is a lovely chocolate orange mousse that my 16 year old daughter made – lit on the left with window light, and a low powered flash, resting on a baking tray with black mounting board behind and to the right.

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Birthday Mousse

Changing the crop and the angle of the composition effects the shot, and it is important to include the cancle flame but not to let the flash over power it.

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Chocolate and Orange Mousse

Adding some oranges to the shot add’s some colour and vibrancy to the image – I am using Manual F8 1/250sec and ISO 100 with off camera flash at1/64th setting. This shot really highlights how essential it is to find fresh and vibrant items for food photography – the oranges look past it!

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Adding interest.

 

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Edited in photoshop and lightroom

Day 249 – Running out of Steam, but we are going to grill them!

I am on day 249… and I feel i have lost it, I have run out of steam – yesterday I tried to take one photo every hour for a challenge that I did before on the 1st Saturday of the month and I was not inspired, nothing looked right, nothing inspired me and I woke up this morning thinking this was it … I have run out of blog!

And then the most amazing thing happened – thanks Adrian – a local artist and friend –  who had gotten up early this morning and gone Mackerel fishing and surprised me with some fresh mackerel – and I thought … I have just got to capture those….

So sorry to the faint hearted … this is a photo of my tea tonight, my hubby has agreed to cook them… but here they are on my chopping board just 3 hours from being caught on a fishing line from one of the beaches I regularly take photos of… this inspired me to pick up my camera with enthusiasm this morning after all!

I used mainly my 17-70mm lens, window light from the left hand side and handheld on auto ISO.

17-70mm lens, ISO200, F6.3, i1/40 sec
17-70mm lens, ISO200, F6.3, i1/40 sec

I thought about how I would like to present them – we got 11 fish… I choose 3 as it would create a more powerful composition… thought about the diagonals presentation, the colour – I choose to showcase them on wood but with a grey behind matching the fish colours. i added two limes – one whole and one half for colour, but felt it needed more texture so added some fresh basil…. the only herb I had available!

I17-70mm lens, SO1250, F6.3, 1/30sec
I17-70mm lens, SO1250, F6.3, 1/30sec

I got in close – not my ideal shot… and they have dripped on my wood block which is distracting!

17-70mm lens, ISO3200, F11, 1/25
17-70mm lens, ISO3200, F11, 1/25

Closed and with diagnoals firmly in mind – the fish follows the line of the chopping board and the diagonals run into the corners.

17-70mm lens, ISO1250, F4, 1/125sec
17-70mm lens, ISO1250, F4, 1/125sec

Looking at details … not to my personal taste…. but don’t they look fresh!

17-70mm lens, ISO1600, F4, 1/100sec
17-70mm lens, ISO1600, F4, 1/100sec

Fish tail – looking at the details of the fish…..

17-70mm lens, IOS640, F4, 1/60sec
17-70mm lens, IOS640, F4, 1/60sec

The shiny texture of the scales – just shows how fresh this fish is.

50mm lens, ISO1000, F4. 1/60sec
50mm lens, ISO1000, F4. 1/60sec

Changed lens – just to see …. and a different composition of the same arrangement.  My favorite shot has to be my first and I can’t wait for dinner tonight …. any anyway as the title says … I may have run out of steam … but today it does not matter – hubby is going to grill them 🙂

Day 239 – Tea and Croissant

Something different today, I am on a home based day and was wondering what I could photograph for today’s blog when one of my teens came back from walking the dog with a croissant to enjoy and brighten up my day … I did not really need the calories, but why not – but to make it extra special I thought I would use it to inspire me to take some still life photos with natural light from the window.

I thought I would experiment with the position of the camera and how it impacted to the photo. I carefully set up a cup of peppermint tea and the croissant on a matching plate, and then took a variety of photos. The only lighting was diffused window light to the left, and I used my 50mm lens through out – hand held, I also choose a wider aperture – so that I can see how the focal point impacted the image.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

My first composition. The wooden surface was fairly neutral but had lines which I angled in one direction, whereas I choose to angle the cup handle, croissant and cutlery in the other direction from it.  I left the teabag in the tea with the twinings label on purpose but the tea bag does not add anything to the shot when I photograph it from this angle. The depth of field is such in this photo that nothing is truly sharp and in focus… but this was just my scene setting photo, t show the space around the objects.

ISO400, F5, 1/200sec
ISO400, F5, 1/200sec

I got lower, focused on the cup of tea, with a hint of the croissant in the foreground. Unfortunately the grain of wood changes in the background – but this could be sorted out in Photoshop by feeling in the area with the other wood.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

Lower again, and you see less tea – more of the background – but I like the light on this image, the focus point on the tea label “enjoy me” – your eye is drawn to the writing in a photo … and here… well I have to see when I did enjoy my almond croissant it was lovely!

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

I changed the focus point to the croissant – it is the same angle as above but it is the croissant that is the subject. The black writing on the tea label is now the darkest point on the image and is distracting, especially as you can not make out what it says.  I think together these images encourage me to think about what I want the photo to say … if I am selling the croissant – the second photo showcases the product, but if I was selling the concept of breakfast or a relaxing cup of tea the first shot would be the stronger image. It really depends on what “story” you want to tell to the audience.

ISO400, F5, 1/160sec
ISO400, F5, 1/160sec

Shot from above – the teabag in the cup is now a messy distraction and does not work. The side lighting had burnt out the detail on the croissant and the shadows look much harsher – it needing a reflector to the right to balance out the lighting. The knife also makes the croissant look small, and cuts the photo almost in half. The photo also looks very flat, the tea cup and croissant loose its depth … it is kind of flat, don’t you think? For me this photo does not work – but I think it is really important to still share it…

ISO400, F5, 1/320sec
ISO400, F5, 1/320sec

I have talked lots about the importance of moving your feet and changing angle, and that is exactly what I did here, I am now shooting towards the window – there are so many reflections on the cup, the shadows are looking much darker and the angle of the objects photographed are not as strong.  I have not moved any of the objects or the lighting just me – and this really highlights to me how important it is to position the photographer in the right place to create the image you hope to achieve,  note the label is partly hidden, the handle and spoon are on competing angles, where as the knife and spoon form a triangle that point you out of the image – this for me does not work.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

Moving closer – above and just focusing on the cup .. I changed angle and you can see some reflection from the window – but I think you are missing part of the story … where’s the croissant….  I think the crop is much too tight.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

The opposite of cropping tight is to shoot wider, so I moved further away as I was using a fixed length prime lens.  I dont’t think it is such a strong shot as one where only part of the croissant is shown.

ISO400, F5, 1/250sec
ISO400, F5, 1/250sec

In this photo, I have moved again and this time the light is behind me. The background objects, which I have not noticed in any of the other images are now in shot and are a distraction, but the colour on the cup is lovely… you get just a glimpse of the spoon and the nice, you are told to enjoy me, and I just want to reach out and taste that croissant – I should reshoot without the clutter – but I have eaten it!

Instead though I removed the background in Photoshop, as it always good to practice your skills..

Edited in Photoshop - background edit, sharpened, burned and dodged.
Edited in Photoshop – background edit, sharpened, burned and dodged.

Day 224 – Composition Challenge Part Two

Last week I shared and attempted looking at Emma’s composition challenge in one post all about meadow flowers (you can view my composition challenge notes here). This week the challenge is to look at:

  • Rule of Thirds – The classic composition technique. Position your subject on one of the imaginary lines that divide your frame into 3. This gives a pleasing, dynamic composition instead of a dull, static one.
  • Leading Lines – Take your viewer by the hand and lead them through your photograph with visual cues – fences, footpaths, shadows.
  • Symmetry – One of the most appealing design techniques, humans are naturally drawn to symmetry.
  • Fill the frame – This is an attention-grabbing composition technique. No horizon, no foreground, no background, just a frame full of subject.
  • Triangles – Look for triangles within your frame – they make for interesting compositions.
    A related technique is to photograph things in 3s rather than pairs. And for a composition that works every time, arrange the 3 things in a triangle rather than a straight line. This works especially well in group photos.
  • Balance – This is a trickier technique to master. You are aiming to decide how much ‘weight’ each aspect of the photograph carries, and then to make sure they are balanced. Aspects of the photograph can include colour, tone and texture, but also foreground/background, or main subject/secondary subject.
    Things that affect balance include where something is positioned within the image (and does it have something opposite to act as a counterweight), and how much of the image a particular aspect (like colour or texture) occupies.
  • Pattern – Much like symmetry, patterns are automatically attractive to humans. Try combining a pattern with filling the frame for a truly eye-catching, and sometimes very abstract, image.

There are some fantastic examples over on Emma’s page – pop over and take a look – Emma’s idea is that you focus your photography for a month and shoot one idea a day – at the start of the year this would have been perfect for my 365 project… but I have so much planned this month and so many adventures to have, that I have only one day again this week…. aaahhhh!

After thinking about what to photograph, baking a pie and making jam tarts .. I decided that the perfect accompaniment would be the french beans that I have grown in the garden and I wondered whether I could try all these rules of composition with a small bunch of beans.

Beans on the Third
Beans on the Third
The rule of thirds - the beans are balanced on in a glass on the third.
The rule of thirds – the beans are balanced on in a glass on the third.
Leading Lines
Leading Lines
Symmetry - I cheated a lot and this is in photoshop, but if I had photographed my beans on a mirror I would have achieved it!
Symmetry – I cheated a lot and this is in photoshop, but if I had photographed my beans on a mirror I would have achieved it!
Filling the frame with colour
Filling the frame with colour
Fill the Frame with colour and a pattern
Fill the Frame with colour and a pattern
Triangles - the leaves are triangle shape, and the three of them form a triangle too. The use of negative space helps too.
Triangles – the leaves are triangle shape, and the three of them form a triangle too. The use of negative space helps too.
Balance - the simple contrast between the bean leaves and the beans
Balance – the simple contrast between the bean leaves and the beans
Balance - the simple contrast between the bean leaves and the beans
Balance – the simple contrast between the bean leaves and the beans
A Pattern
A Pattern

The abstract below uses one of the bean images above and has been manipulated in Photoshop. I love the vibrant colours – can you guess which image was the original? Does this count as a composition … it is a pattern, it repeats and reflects and has some great symmetry – it was taken with a camera, there is balance in the green and brown tones, the frame is filled with colour and the lines draw you into the centre of the image. What do you think?

An absract patten created from what?
An absract patten created from what?

Some of the rules cross over each other, but by choosing just one subject, you can really explore what the rules are and you have to think about what you creating when you take the image.

Day 178 – Food Photography

I have taken a few food photos in my blog so far, and today I baked cherry scones and lime and coconut cookies and thought it was a great opportunity to take some more photos. Recently I have come accorss a coupld of other posts about taking photos of food … and I have thought about what they have said when I took the images today.

Todays set up involved natural window light, a sheet of foam board to bounce the light back and my 50mm lens

Cherry Scones, ISO 100, F4.5, 1/20 sec
Cherry Scones, ISO 100, F4.5, 1/20 sec

The cherry scones I photographed on a plain white plate, on a wooden table… the table compliments the glaze of the scones, but I experimented and decided to go closer.

Cherry Scones, ISO 100, F6.3, 1/13 sec
Cherry Scones, ISO 100, F6.3, 1/13 sec

Moving in closer I increased the aperture as the depth of field would be reduced, and I changed my angle slightly, but by removing the edge of the plate you have no idea of scale. This could be tiny scones or huge ones.

Lime and coconut biscuits, ISO 100, F4.5, 1.25 sec
Lime and coconut biscuits, ISO 100, F4.5, 1.25 sec

This were placed on black marble… which was not big enough to cover the work area and the difference between that, the sugar paper and the table beyond is quite apparent. If I am going to take food photos I need the think more about the background medium and get some different surfaces, plates, tiles etc to photograph on. The black marble seems to suck the colour right out of these delicate biscuits.

Lime biscuits, ISO 100, F4.5, 1/40 sec
Lime biscuits, ISO 100, F4.5, 1/40 sec

A biscuit stack works much better … but the black marble does not meet the background… this shoot though has much better colour, you can see the texture of the biscuits, the crumbs and the reflection in the marble.

So what next:

  • Look at lighting
  • Look at making the backgrounds more interesting
  • Put the kettle on and enjoy a cherry scone and a lime biscuit … afterall someone has the try them 🙂

Day 155 – Coffee Cake

Photographing and talking about something every day is a challenge – it is a challenge finding the time, it is a challenge finding the motivation and it is a challenge to find the inspiration. Today I wanted to run, do some cooking and catch up with some of the household chores, fit in some work … on top of that I really wanted to do some baking… so that inspired today’s photos.

I baked a coffee cake. I took the photos lit by natural night on my coffee table with my 100mm canon lens. It does not look quite like the recipe … but I am not Mary Berry!

Looking at the detail
Looking at the detail

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The Cake
The Cake – it is square … I could not find my round tin!
Getting closer
Getting closer
Fancy a slice?
Fancy a slice?

What I really wanted to do was experiment with the cake… it would have been fun to slice it up and serve it with silver cutlery and a cup of tea., it would be nice to see it presented or photographed served – but equally I made the cake for my family to enjoy and they would have been a bit miffed at half sliced cake … so today that was not an option.