Sometimes, when I’m trying to demonstrate to someone how much my blogging skills have come on in the five years I’ve been doing this, I like to show them photos of the first few recipes I uploaded.
I have about 80 posts in draft at the moment because of how terrible the food photography is. I mean, doesn’t this sweet chilli chicken look delicious?
Mmm mmmmm. Who wouldn’t want to make that after seeing that photo? And I love the styling of these Tex Mex tacos. I always love it when there’s a hand in a photo to prop food up. And a table covered in books, cans of Fanta and a sponge. I mean, it’s pure class.
Thankfully, my food photography has gotten a lot better recently.
But it took a long time and a lot of practise to get here, and I still don’t know everything. Photography is hard, and changing from a point and shoot or a phone to a DSLR takes practise. Currys and Nikon put on an event, #LightsCameraCurrys, to make sure we knew the basics. I went with the lovely Ashley from Peach Trees and Bumblebees to brush up on my photography knowledge
So – first things first. Camera settings. Getting your light right is really important when taking photos. You want a balance between shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Get these in harmony and your photos won’t look grainy, washed out, too bright or so dark you can barely see anything. Playing with these can also mean you don’t have to use the flash, because using a flash makes everything apart from the skin of pale people with a lot of make-up on look awful. If you use the P setting, everything is auto but you can control whether flash is on or off.
But if you’re a little more confident, you can play around with things. S gives you shutter speed priority and lets you control it. You want at least a shutter speed of 1/60 if you’re going handheld, or everything will look shakey. We spent a lot of time fiddling with shutter speed, and I took this of Ashley:
Anyway. The A setting gives you aperture priority. This is basically how much the lens open. A big wide open lens lets in lots of light and is also good for creating a narrow depth of field – that effect where some things are blurry and some are in focus. Good for food photography and focusing on a specific bit of the plate. And the ISO setting gives you ISO priority. The ISO setting adjusts how sensitive the camera is to light – the higher the ISO setting the higher the sensitivity, but there’s also the risk of having a very grainy photo with a high ISO. It’s why you can’t rely on it all the time and need to learn to balance shutter speed, ISO and aperture. When I started I didn’t know how to do anything apart from adjust ISO, and I had so many photos that were basically unusable because of how grainy they were.
Then we were all let loose with our (borrowed) Nikon cameras. There was a lot of this going on:
One of the things that apparently blew everyone’s minds was that you can adjust the white balance of photos manually. The white balance affects colour because colours look very different in different lights – a white piece of paper will look different in shade to direct sunlight to fluorescent light to orangey light. To do this is slightly different depending on your camera, but you take a photograph of a white thing in the light you’ll be using and the camera adjusts automatically. Check your manual or use Google to figure out how to do this on your camera. Setting my white balance turned my photo from this…
If you want to learn more, use the hashtag #lightscameracurrys to see what other people from the event have been saying/photographing, and you can also pop over to the Currys blog if you want to learn more. Feel free to link to some food photography you’re particularly proud of in the comments – I’d love to see!