Food Photo 101 – Lesson 1 Results


Nika put together a great lesson for our first week. This is the second part of these lessons. After getting Nika’s lesson, I’m going through them, then posting the results.


I’ve seen a lot of tips on different sites where photographers listed things to do. I haven’t seen someone that’s not a photographer (like me) go through the tips and show their results. I’m not always going to get fantastic results, I’m sure. I hope to show progress, and hopefully have others taking the class see that they don’t have to be experts to get good results from their cameras. I’m also looking forward to seeing what others come up with in their blogs and in our Food Photo 101 forum and Flickr group.

On to the lesson! I can honestly say I hadn’t taken the trouble to just play around with a setting at a time; I’ve done a lot of post processing to get settings the way I wanted them. I’m not going to act like I have it all together during this all the time. The first thing I realized is that I had no idea where my camera manual was. Never fear, though… I googled the camera (it happens to be a Fuji S5000 P&S for now), and I found the manual online. I’ve printed it off so I can keep it around and looks stuff up easily.I have usually taken photos, at least lately, in Aperture Priority, which, on this camera, means that I can set the aperture, but everything else is set by the camera. For Lesson 1, I put the camera in manual mode to start.White Balance

My camera has several white balance settings: Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescet, Incandescent, Shade and Outdoors. I shot early in the morning, using the natural light coming in my dining room window. Here are my white balance results:




In this setting, I liked the Warm White setting the best. I’m sure different settings will mean different preferences, though.

ExposureThe next setting to play with was exposure. I set white balance back to auto, and then turned down the exposure. I’m only posting a few of the shots I took, but they show the progression from underexposed to overexposed. With all other settings on auto, all the shots actually seemed to be okay.





In this test, all the shots looked ok, though the first was a bit dark. I liked the 0 exposure the best of these shots.

ApertureAt this point, I set exposure back to auto and started playing with the aperture setting. One thing I noticed in these shots was the smaller the aperture, the darker the image, which somewhat makes sense, as I had shutter set to one setting (being on manual mode). Usually, I would have either changed the shutter speed or set the camera on Aperture Priority and let it set the shutter for me.This is just a sampling of the aperture test. There are more in the Flickr Food Photo 101 group.

It’s harder to see the differences here, as the smaller aperture shots are darker, but the first shot has a little less background detail than the others. For food, I prefer that kind of setting.Now, when I say smaller aperture, the number is actually bigger, but it’s part of a fraction, so the larger the denominator (bottom of fraction), the smaller the aperture, and the less light is let into the camera.

Part 2 of the LessonI decided, after looking at the photos, that I liked the Warm White setting for white balance and even exposure, with an aperture setting of f/2.8. Before doing the lesson, I would have had white balance set to auto, resulting in a shot like this:

The shot is ok, but it’s a bit too warm, too yellowish/orangish. The focus isn’t great because I was holding this by hand, and the low light caused the shutter to open longer, and I wasn’t still enough.I adjusted the white balance and exposure to the settings I wanted, then put the aperture at f/2.8 (that’s the biggest my camera can go), and took the shot again:newsettings.jpg

I think I got much better results. Contrast was even better, but the color was much better, in my opinion.

ConclusionAt the end of lesson 1, what did I learn? One thing I learned is that I need to play around with settings far more than I have in the past. Even when i think I know what I want, I should take more shots with different settings, as one of the other shots may really strike me as being a great shot.I also learned that I shouldn’t rely as much on the camera to select settings for me. I need to take shots with white balance and exposure in different settings to determine what I prefer, take note of it, and remember to use those settings.

What’s NextI’m going to play around with this lesson some more. If I come up with anything more I get out of it, I’ll post it on the forum and the Flickr group. But what I most hope happens next is that those of you that are participating start talking about your results on the forum. If you need help posting photos from Flickr onto the forum, just ask! The newsletter will be out on Sunday, available on the Newsletters Page and emailed to everyone registered. As Nika and I hear from you, we’ll ask you about using some stuff in the newsletters, too.

Class Resources

To register for the newsletter that reviews each week’s topic, fill out the contact form at the bottom of this post (or on the Food Photo 101 page) and type “Food Photo 101” in the subject field.

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.

No comments

  1. Hey Curt! You are the BEST!
    I can’t believe how much work was involved with lesson one. I have directed all my questions to Nika, but I wanted to drop by and thank-you for doing this!

  2. Kathy, Lesson 1 makes you pay some attention to the camera, doesn’t it? Especially if you’re not used to changing settings much.

    I answered your question over on Nika’s blog on the Photoshop stuff… None of my photos got any Photoshop work; they’re right out of the camera.

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