Food Photo 101 – Lesson 3 Results


Lesson 3 is all about depth of field (DOF). One thing I’ve noticed in looking at food photos is that really shallow DOF is used a LOT with food (sometimes too much, I think). However, it can be used to really good effect to highlight the details desired while blurring those not desired.


I don’t have a stovetop that’s usable right now, thanks to my ex-propane company taking my tank instead of billing me rental for it. Of course, they did that the day before Thanksgiving! So I don’t really have any food for photo subjects. Not to worry! Christmas season is starting, and what I do have plenty of is Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer stuff. And those reading this will be seeing a lot more of our decorations over the next few weeks.


My main subject this week is Charlie-In-The-Box (CITB). Due to time, on Thursday, I’ll have only aperture settings of f/2.8, but what I varied instead of aperture was distance from the subject. Later, I’ll be updating this with a smaller aperture, also, as well as diagrams showing my focal plane. But first, here are just my basic photos:


Aperture f/2.8, background perpendicular to the lens.

16″ from subject:


6″ from subject:


What I noticed in having the camera at different distances was that the closer I got to the subject, the more blurred the background became. I’m assuming this is because the distance between the subject and the background becomes proportionally larger the smaller the distance is between the camera and the subject (inversely proportional). For instance, the background was about 16″ behind the CITB. At 16″ between the camera and the CITB, the ratio between the camera to CITB distance to the CITB to background distance is 1:1. At 4″ from camera to CITB, that ration becomes 1:4.

Aperture f/2.8, background at an angle to the CITB

Camera 24″ from subject


Camera 16″ from subject


Camera 4″ from subject


I noticed the same thing here; the closer to the subject I moved the camera, the more blurred the background. Additionally, however, the background varied in distance from the CITB due to the angle, so the background has a varying amount of blurriness.

Aperture f/2.8, camera above the subject

Camera 16″ from subject:


Camera 12″ from subject:


Camera 4″ from subject:


There’s no real background here, but the CITB becomes its own background, based on the spot on which I focused the camera. The farther from that spot (I tried to focus on the eyes), the more blurred, in proportion to the distance between the camera and the CITB’s eyes.

I’ll add some more photos, hopefully later Thursday.

Class Resources

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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.

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