Food Setting??

So the last time I was in The Shiny Stuff Store (you know that place, where you go to drool on electronics??) I was looking at the various new models of cameras when the clerk pointed out that there was even a food setting on the auto scene mode settings. "I don't know what's up with thaaaat," she drawled in that irritating Encino teenager accent that seems to have spread world-wide. "Like, who takes pictures of foooood??" So what is up with that? Well, with the love of gourmet cooking and the rise of the Food Network and the Travel Channel, people want to show that world's biggest burger they had or that 'oh my god' dessert. You know you've done it... used your cell phone to snap a picture of it and sent it to the friend that was too lazy to go out. 'Told you!' Much like my son did when he made his own pho for the first time.
Mmmmm Pho!
Homemade Pho with Cilantro
In actuality, true food photography is incredibly demanding and requires a lot of work and forethought. You're not going to truly replicate that with a $99 Kodak, but you can get some really nice shots to impress your friends by following a few simple tips. If your camera does not have a food setting, use the macro mode for closeups. The food setting is the one with the little knife and fork, usually. I wonder what it is in Asian countries? Hmmm. Anyway. It will not activate your flash. A flash with food photography will 'flatten' your picture and not look as nice, so if you don't have a food setting the first thing you need to do is deactivate your flash. This is going to require that your camera be able to happily handle low-light situations, because you're going to use natural light for this shot. If the light is really strongly from one direction, try using a white napkin to reflect light back onto your subject if you need to. If you want to make sure the lighting is right and not too strangely tinted, take a picture of your white napkin, then you can work with and adjust the colors more easily in post-production manipulation by having the reference shot of the white napkin to work with, then apply those settings to your food shot. It is a lot easier to make sure that your camera's white balance is properly set in the first place, but if you forget because of that margarita you had before dinner, then you'll have a fall-back. 😉 First of all-get the picture right away before the food melts or wilts or whatever. The angle of the shot can be from a 45% angle looking down at the food, that's natural and expected. If you want to highlight a specific thing though, like the riiiiich chocolate dripping down the ice cream make sure that spot is sharply in focus and take a picture of just that spot. If you want to show how hugely tall this burger is, take a picture of it from the side to show that height. You get what I'm saying? Think outside of the usual, highlight what you love. Tell a story. The other thing a food setting does is boost the vividness of color, so the tomatoes in the salad look nice and tomatoey. If you don't have that food setting, see if you can adjust the vividness of your pictures so that the colors are bright and snappy. Well, I hope that gets you started on making all your friends jealous of what you had for dinner last night... you never know, you may end up loving it and making a career of food photography eventually! Or at least having some great material for that cookbook you've been thinking of writing! Have fun, and keep shooting. 🙂