Exercises In Food Photography #3 : Overhead Food Shots – A View From Above


Exercises In Food Photography #3 : Overhead Food Shots – A View From Above

Dark Chocolate Slab.

(Taken with a 50mm f/1.8 II lens at aperture – f/ 4.0 , shutterspeed – 1/25s and ISO – 100)

I First of all my thanks, once again, to all of you who found the time to join me in last month’s exercise. Then my apologies for delaying this post. I usually post this at the beginning of the month, but this time some bug got the better of all of us and we have been passing around a rather persistent and irritating cold-cough-fever thing to one another. The fact that the monsoons are here in full force hasn’t been helping this situation much.

Let’s do something a little different this month, shall we? It’s not something that’s not been done, in fact it’s something that’s probably been done to death almost when it was in fashion. There was a time not so far back in the past, when every third food magazine/ cookbook cover had you peering at food from right above.

When we shoot food, we’re usually trying to create a three dimensional effect in a two dimensional photograph to showcase food as is naturally seen by the eye of the beholder. So a lot of food photographs tend to be shot between 10 and 45 degrees to the table to get this effect. Shooting from ninety degrees or right overhead is another approach to food photography and these results in a one dimensional/ flat composition.

While this angle is great to show off food textures that appear from overhead, it doesn’t work well for all types of food presentations. For example, a sandwich shot from the top would not show you the layers in it which would look better from the side. However, a sandwich, with some thought to styling and plating can look good when shot from above.

So for this month’s exercise in food photography, let’s take photographs of our food from overhead (ninety degrees angle to your table). Give your composition some thought regarding your choice of food to shoot, how best you can style and/ plate it to show it to advantage from the top.

One point to consider is that if you use the auto-focus feature on your lens (I do this a lot) then the lens will focus on the point nearest to it, which would be the highest point of your plated food.

Another point to consider is the aperture value you would use. If you would like to have a shallow DoF in your photograph, then a large aperture (small number, big opening in lens) is desirable, but if you would like your overall composition to be in focus then a smaller aperture setting (big number, smaller opening) would be the way to go.

Exercises In Food Photography #3 : Overhead Food Shots – A View From Above

Spiced Chocolate And Nut Fudge

(Taken with a 50mm f/1.8 II lens at aperture – f/ 4.0 , shutterspeed – 1/160s and ISO – 100)

Since I haven’t been well, I’m going to use a couple of photographs (of the Leek rings, crackers and cheese, and the Broken Chocolate Bar) I had taken earlier but not posted here so far, to illustrate this exercise. The exception is the Spiced Chocolate Nut Fudge which I have posted earleir.

I wanted to take a photograph of a slab of dark chocolate but wanted to do something different with the styling in a minimalistic composition. One way would have been to break off bits and perhaps stack them one on top of another, to create some texture.

I wanted to show the geometric pattern on the top of the slab, so I broke the chocolate slab and “arranged” it so that was broken yet the whole slab was there. I used a foam board real close to the chocolate and over-exposed slightly so there’s very little shadow. The slightly shiny nature of my background and some post processing also helped me get the result I wanted.

Exercises In Food Photography #3 : Overhead Food Shots – A View From Above

Leek Art.

(Taken with 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens at aperture – f/ 7.1, shutterspeed – 1/25s and ISO – 200)

As for the leeks, I came back from the market with some fresh leeks for a leek and potato soup, and I couldn’t think of a single way to make them appear attractive through my lens. It was while slicing the leeks and admiring the beautiful concentric circles in different shades of green that I had a “lightbulb” moment. The leek slices are on a dark wooden board and again I used a foam board real close to reflect the natural light.

Exercises In Food Photography #3 : Overhead Food Shots – A View From Above

Crackers And Cheese.

(Taken with 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens at aperture – f/ 5.0, shutterspeed – 1/100s and ISO – 400)

The cheese and crackers (appetizers/ canapés) was actually shot from the side initially because I wanted to show the layers of the crackers piled on top of another, the cheese and the toppings. Just as I was about to clear that up, it struck me I could still show the layers and the toppings to advantage from the top too. I gave it a bit of a “messy” appearance, as if to suggest they were being made and voila!

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) from overhead. You can plate, style and compose your shot as you choose but please ensure the food is in focus. 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.

Since I was late in posting this exercise and I would like to maintain the 3 week time period for the exercise, the deadline for this exercise shall be the 30th of July, 2012. I’m looking forward to seeing all your photographs. Happy shooting!

May I 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 #2 : Less Is More, So Let’s Keep It Simple!

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

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

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