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Photography Tips for Bloggers

taste of melb

Recently I was privileged to attend a Canon Photography Class at Taste of Melbourne where I was taken around by expert Canon Photographers to learn more about food photography.

It was heaps of fun not only learning from these guys who have travelled the world taking photographs, but to see Taste of Melbourne through the lens of a Canon EOS 5D mark III. 

Here's some tips I gleaned from the Canon Photography Class - 

1. The quality of camera does make a difference.

When starting my website in 2011 I used an iPhone 4 for most of my photographs. This camera did a tradesmanlike job but lacked flair and definition.

Many people use iPhone 5 these days and it takes much better photos. It's particularly useful for Instagram and with effects filters, brings a great result. I use the iPhone 5 in combination with my Canon SLR.

Point and shoot cameras will be serviceable for your food blog, but these days you can pick up entry level SLR's for not much more money. Even an old model SLR released a few years old is often discounted to just above point and shoot prices.

But the quality from a top notch camera such as the Canon 5D is marked. And as the Canon photographers explained to me, a big difference is in the detail. You get a lot more detail from a camera like the Canon 5D, even without high level photography skills.

An example of a sharp image from the Canon 5D is displayed (above) when we visited Burch and Purchase, as something a bit different to my usual shots. Notice the sharp detail and the blur around certain defined points.

2. Style your food photographs.

Styling is a key part of food photography. It can range from organising props on a table next to a dish, to arranging your photograph with suitable backdrop. As we walked around Taste of Melbourne I was encouraged to experiment - for example with taking photos from various angles, not just from directly in front. 

More specifically, I took some photographs where I tilted the camera... With other photographs, I took the photo from above the food.

It's a matter of having fun with your food photography and experimenting.

3. Experiment with apertures.

A good tip is to not just use the automatic setting on your camera. Switch to AV and work out best apertures for your photographs.

For food photography you need a low aperture when taking photographs close up.  I often use the Canon "plastic fantastic" lens, a cheap lens brilliant for the money, for my food images. It allows me to shoot with an aperture of f/1.8 and get the detail on close ups. It hones in on where I focus, with a soft blur created around the focussed subject to give detail and depth.

The Canon 5D allows even lower aperture with its stock lens, which makes that extra difference. I took some photos at f/1.4 with the lens on the Canon 5D I was using in the workshop. And was happy with the results.

For portrait photos the aperture is greater. 

4. Use the autofocus

The great thing about SLR's is the autofocus with the invisible markers to help you focus. What I love about the Canon 5D is the high number of 61 invisible assist AF points. It's important not to just shoot straight off but allow your autofocus to settle on the subject you want to feature. A simple point, but there's nothing worse than "slightly out of focus" photographs. And to be honest many food blogs are full of slightly out of focus photographs.

5. Take several shots of your subject matter.

There's nothing worse than just taking one shot of your main course at the restaurant, only to come home later and find out during editing that it was a dud. A simple tip - but it's recommended to take several photos of your subject matter and use the best ones. You can check out your photographs on the spot to see if they look great - and you can always delete poor photographs.

taste of melb 2

Here is another photograph I took during the Canon Photography Class when visiting Galliano (where I received a cocktail or two).

Have fun with your food photography!

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