June 2, 2012

Exercises In Food Photography #2 : Less Is More, So Let’s Keep It Simple!

I
just want thank everyone who joined in last month’s exercise on Aperture & DoF, as well as those who had planned to be a part of it all but couldn’t due to constraints. Not having the time to spare has been my number one excuse for many things blogging, including the paucity of posts on my blog, so I understand. I honestly didn’t expect so many people to join me and am happy to see the response. I’m also hoping that some of you who weren’t here last month will be able to join in this month.



Fresh Plums

(100mm f/2.8 Macro lens at aperture f/ 4.0, shutterspeed 1/125s and ISO 100)

Over the past couple of years, one comment/ compliment I have got again and again is appreciation that many of my food photograph compositions are simple or minimalistic. I am, by nature, a fan of the less crowded style of composition in photographs, though I equally appreciate photographs that have multi-elements of composition.
But I have a confession to make about how a lot of my food photographs ended up minimalistic, so much so I have adopted that style quite a bit. When I started out taking food photographs, I had very few props on hand to use apart from table napkins, dinnerware and cutlery which I used regularly and many of which weren’t exactly designed to produce great food photographs.
Many books and material on the net written about props for food photography will tell you to find them at junk sales or thrift shops or else beg, borrow or steal them from friends and family. As for sales and thrift shops, we don’t have them in India, at least not where I live. The other option was out of question since I wanted to keep all the family and friends I had and not lose them because of photography!



Tomatoes & Mint

(100mm f/2.8 Macro lens at aperture f/ 3.2, shutterspeed 1/50s and ISO 200)

So I collected whatever little I could find to use as props, that wouldn’t burn holes in our pockets or take up precious shelf space and tried to style and compose my food shots with that. I do now have enough props (actually not enough though my family wouldn’t agree!) to move a bit away from my minimalistic approach, yet there is something about the style which will always appeal to me.
In my opinion, the saying “Less is more” really is true with a minimalistic food composition. There is something very appealing, stylish and classic about it, and it also allows your eye to concentrate on the main focal point of your composition without distractions.




(55-250mm f/4-5.6 lens at aperture f/ 4.0, shutterspeed 1/40s and ISO 100)

So for this month’s exercise, I thought it would be nice to work on the theme of “Less is more” and shoot a photograph (any food of your choice) in a minimalistic composition. Let the food reign supreme in your photograph without the distractions of too many props. If you must use props, use as few of them as you can. You could try to add points/ elements of interest in your photograph with garnishes, for example. You’ll get an idea of what I mean about this assignment from the photographs in this post.


(100mm f/2.8 Macro lens at aperture f/ 5.0, shutterspeed 1/30s and ISO 320)

This month has been great for meeting a lot of friends who are also food bloggers, as Goa is a popular summer vacation destination. Sravanthi, Arundathi and Deeba were down here and in the manner of true food bloggers, they all came bearing gifts of food. I chose to use the gorgeous dark cherries that Deeba brought as my subject for this exercise. All the other photographs in this post were taken on previous occasions and serve to illustrate the subject of this month’s exercise.
My husband found the time to make the wooden background boards he had promised me (I still have to paint some of them) and so I had to use them. You might find those boards cropping up a little too frequently in my photographs in the near future…..

Fresh Dark Cherries

I used a 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens at aperture f/ 5.6, shutterspeed 1/13s and ISO 200. The light came through a window on the right and I used a white foam board on the left (at about 8 o’clock position) to reduce the shadow. My only props were the teacup with the cherries in it and 2 saucers. I used the pale pink accents of the cup and saucers to complement the colour of the cherries.

What You Have To Do To Join In:

     1.      Take one (or more if you would like to do so) of your subject (any food of your choice) using as few props as possible, preferably not more than one or two, like a plate/ glass/ cup and a napkin/ fork/ knife/ spoon, etc. The lens and settings you use are entirely upto you though it would be nice if you mention them in your post for others to know. Do try and use Manual settings if you can.
     2.     Post the photograph(s) and details about them on you blog, with details about the shot. Recipes are also a nice idea so we can try out your dish if possible. 
     3.     Please ensure that you link back to this post/ page in your blog post. Then add the link to your Photography Exercise post using the Simply Linked Widget that appears at the bottom of this post. This will direct readers to you blog and allow them to read your post.

Please make sure that the text in your link is correct otherwise no one would be able to reach your post.
If you do not have a blog, then upload your photographs on Flickr or any other hosting site and then use the link of that photograph in the Widget.

The deadline for this exercise is the 25th of June, 2012 so that gives you a little over 3 weeks to get it done. I’m looking forward to seeing all your photographs. I would also request you all, if it is possible, to please visit fellow photographers involved in this exercise and give them your feedback and criticism because this is one more way of improving ones skills and craft.
If you have any doubts or need any clarifications about this exercise, please leave a comment at the end of this post and I'll get back to you.


Other Exercises In This Series:


Exercises In Food Photography #1 : Aperture and DoF
Exercises In Food Photography #3 : Overhead Food Shots – A View From Above

Exercises In Food Photography #4 : Feature Just One Ingredient!

Exercises In Food Photography #5 : Adding Some Life To Your Photograph!

 

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