Bad cooking analogies


My friend Joe came to visit me from Portland this weekend. He’s a chef down over there. He came to hang out and make some snacks. I, being that guy, took photos of the entire thing. I’m sure it was at least mildly irritating, but he put up with my nonsense rather well.

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With that, today’s themes are lessons in food photography (how I messed everything up and what I can do better next time), post processing as described by a simile stretched so thin it’s nearly not there, and photos of pork chops. With those warnings, let’s begin. First things first:

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food photos

I usually don’t do food photos because I’m either the one cooking, or I’m doing something helpful like cleaning the kitchen or getting out of the way. I’ve done one photoshoot before, but that’s really the only experience I have. So this was a good bit of practice and I learned a few things.

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I confirmed that splattering oil likes to be backlit, but I also learned why my food photos are not great. My lighting is too harsh. If you look at any food photos the light is soft and even. The shadows fall off gently and evenly. Let’s look at what I have

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Eeeh. They’re not awful. I had 3 lights set up to try and overpower the overheads and create my own sort of evenly spread light source, but I feel like next time we do this, I’ll set up my giant softbox and just let it fire as key, filling with the little flashes and maybe even a reflector. If you look at this guy you can see the reflector doing its thing on the front side of the meatloaf reflecting the key light behind the food to the right.

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This one is one of the better ones in the batch, precisely because it’s more evenly lit and the flashes aren’t so harsh. Oh well. Next time.

post processing and bad similes

Alright, so kind of like cooking, photography is about taking some raw ingredients (get it? RAW? Like the file format? I crack myself up!) and modifying them until something palatable comes out. In cooking you have your ingredients and skill as a chef (our food was spectacular, by the way), and here you have your camera, lens selection, lights, composition, and of course the photo itself. I’m not going to compare focal lengths to knives (but I guess I did) and all that, leaving that as an exercise to the reader, as they say. So let’s take a look at a before and after.

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I know this isn’t the greatest food photo, but I learned a lot from it. There are a few things happening here: I selected the plate and pulled it up 2 stops; dropped the entire scene a stop and a half; and selectively pulled up the darks on the feta, which had turned completely white with the first adjust. So, yay learning.

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pork chops

This should be pretty self-explanatory. Pork chops are delicious. We – well, Joe – brined them for a day in apple cider and then seared them to medium with a honey glaze. They were spectacular.

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So there it is. Let me know if you have any tips on food photography I may have missed.