How to Improve Your Food Photography in 9 Easy Steps

“A photographer is like a cod, which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.”
George Bernard Shaw

One would think that getting a brand new latest model camera like the Lumix DH5 Panasonic Compact System Camera, Nikon D810 or Canon Mark IV for example, would allow you to become a pro photographer… well, one would be wrong! The equipment you are shooting with is important for sure but it isn’t everything. I am not a pro, and I still have a lot to learn but at the same time, I already possess some knowledge which I can share with you, knowledge which hopefully will allow you to shoot more mouth-watering pictures. I focus on food photography because this is what interests me but you can adapt my tips below to any still life subject.

So, let’s get started – how to improve your food photography in 9 easy steps!

Know your camera

Seems like a no-brainer, does it? But be honest with yourself, when was the last time you actually reached for the manual? Do you really know what all the buttons or sliders actually do? It doesn’t matter what camera you have, if you don’t know all its functions, you will never be able to get the most out of it. Most people buy a new DSLR, set it on auto and hope for the best… well, this really isn’t the way to go.

Invest in some photo lighting

You can have the most expensive, top of the range camera but without some good lighting, you still will not be able to take a decent photo. It would be ideal to be able to shoot in all natural light all of the time but this isn’t always a realistic option. And no, you don’t have to sell your car in order to obtain some photo lights. Check eBay or Amazon, you can get a set of continuous softbox lighting for £30 or so… and yes, they do work well…

Understand the light

Once you have the lights in hand, you need to understand how to light your object. Food should never be light from the front. Ideally, you want to backlight your dish or set the light on the side (try an 11 or 1 o’clock lighting position) but never in front. In addition to your new light, play with diffusers or fill cards… it all depends on your needs; they will allow you to mellow the light or reduce harsh shadows especially if you are shooting with one light only.

Take care of your background

The dish is always the hero of your shot but everything else you see around it is equally important. Most people struggle with backgrounds but actually, the lack of a nice background is very easy to fix… look for inspirations all around you – wallpaper, tiles, wooden or vinyl flooring boards, old cupboard doors… Pop to your local DIY shop and ask for some samples of pieces of wallpaper you like, buy a length of clip on flooring and when you get home simply cut it into 3 shorter lengths and connect them as intended and tada… you have a wooden looking board done.

Work on composition

When you are setting your shot, look through your camera, pay attention to all the details you can see. Make sure your background is clear of clutter as well as clear of any dust or stray hairs… Decide on the angle of the shot, prop accordingly and frame. Remember about the rule of thirds, negative space and a colour wheel. Sounds like a lot but practise makes it easy.

Pay attention to props

I know that props can make or break the food shot. I personally lack in this department, I have an entire cupboard full of cooking props but I hardly ever use them… like I said before I am still learning and it looks like I am kind of stuck for the moment on the styling front. Summer is coming and with it car boot or yard sales, which are perfect for stocking up with unusual kitchen utensils like old plates, cups or glasses.

Plate your food right

Your food is your hero so make sure it looks as good as possible. Don’t just flop a spoonful of mashed potatoes on the plate next to your beautiful, juicy steak… place it with purpose, shape it and keep the plate clean. I see so many pictures of food which to all intents and purposes looks like road kill… it might be the best pasta bake ever created but if you present it so it resembles a dog’s dinner no one is going to cook it, trust me. Some dishes are hard to plate nicely, maybe try shooting them as the bubble away in your cooking pot or for baked goods whilst they are still on the baking tray… not everything has to be presented on a plate.

Shoot in RAW

No matter how great a photographer you will become or are now, your pictures will need some editing, even if it is just emphasising a small burst of colour, or the contrast… there is always something which didn’t go according to plan or could be improved. To make editing as easy as possible and to keep as much details as possible you have to shot in the RAW format. There is no compression between RAW and a .jpg file during and after any editing process and once you start shooting in RAW, you will understand why…

Practise, practise, practise

This is the best advice I can give you. Practise makes us better, we learn from our mistakes and next time we will know how to fix what went wrong during the previous shoot. Practise with your camera settings, with different angles, different lighting or colour… there is no better way to learn than practise!

I could write and write and write, as the topic of photography is never ending but as I am not writing a novel I will stop here. I hope that those few tips will help you understand what’s important and allow you to start taking better pictures.

Good luck and if you have any questions you know where to find me.

Would you add anything to my list?

5 Benefits of a Raw Diet

To fed your dog a raw diet it should consist of RAW meat, bones, organs, eggs, vegetables, and fruit… sounds simple enough but is it good for our pets?

Well, just like with everything else there are some who are pro and some who are against. The best answer I can give: read, research and make your own mind about the raw diet… I can only speak for myself and share my own experience about it.

For years we struggled with Bunk’s allergies, we have spent literally 1000s of pounds on the best dog foods we could find, only to find out that a few month later his skin rashes have returned. Gluten free, grain free, hypoallergenic, holistic… we tried them all with no real success stories. I’ve considered starting a raw diet some time ago but I was a bit sceptic so we kind of took a half measure – raw mixed with kibbles… well, this didn’t really change anything as Bunk was still suffering from his allergies, that is until now… because for the last 6 months both Bunk and Lilly have been on a pure raw diet and they are golden!

I am not trying to convince you to go raw, all I want is to share with you my own observations after this diet change. So what did we observe?

Healthy teeth

Bunk didn’t really have any problems with his teeth but Lilly did. Maybe due to her age or maybe due to an earlier diet but her teeth were full of plague and tart and we were planning a professional teeth cleaning session for her but it’s no longer needed. Her teeth got better! The plague and tart build-up are gone and her breath has finally stopped being so unpleasant.

Good weight

You will know if you are a regular reader of my blog that Lilly has always had a weight problem. For years her weight was like a roller-coaster – up and down and up again… we tried different diets, more exercise and it all worked… until it didn’t… Now, she is lean, her weight doesn’t go up and down and finally, we could put the dog obesity problem to rest.

More energy

Both Lilly and Bunk have much more energy. They are alert, playful and seem happier. I don’t know if this is purely due to the new diet, but I am convinced it had to have a lot to do with it.

Smaller poops

One would think that this one is beneficial to dog owners only as they have to clean up less but actually it has a great benefit for the dogs too – healthy anal glands. No more vet visits with Bunk to empty the glands.

No more allergies

This one is super important especially for us! I am super glad as I no longer have to look after open sores, washing them on an hourly basis, buying and applying antibiotics but most of all Bunk doesn’t suffer. Most shop-bought pet food contains additives, preservatives, grain or other ingredients which cause allergies… a raw diet doesn’t!

So what do we feed our dogs these days?

Well, they get a mixture of raw meat on the bone, fine grated vegetables and fruit with an addition of fish oil, coconut oil and homemade turmeric paste. Once a week they will have fish or organs and some raw eggs. In reality, it looks like this… I pop to my local shop and buy 20+kg of raw dog meat on the bone, some organs and a pile of fresh veggies and fruit (whatever is in season). Meat goes to the freezer and fresh produce goes to the pantry. Every three days I take a pile of carrots, beetroots, leeks, celery or broccoli (or whatever I could buy at the farmers market) and shred it in my food processor, then move it into a large plastic tub and pop into the fridge. In the morning I defrost some meat, so it’s ready come dinner time. The meaty bones get mixed with the shredded veggies, some chopped apples and bananas will be added into the bowl, then oils and turmeric and it’s done! Dinner time! Another highlight for us is the fact that the dogs take their time eating, no more wolfing it down in under a minute, now they can take 10-15 minutes to eat their food making it more of an event for them and they are still licking the floor and bowls half an hour later looking for every last scrap.

Have you ever considered feeding your pets a raw diet?

 

For more information please read: “Top 50 Most Frequently Asked BARF Questions Newcomers Ask”. Hopefully, this will answer all the questions you might have about a raw diet.

 

To fed your dog a raw diet it should consist of RAW meat, bones, organs, eggs, vegetables and fruit… sounds simple enough but is it good for our pets?

Cats Versus Dogs – Which Do You Prefer?

Many people think that you’re either a cat or a dog lover and there seems to be a somewhat unfounded sense of competition between our furry friends. However, there are still many of us who love both and wouldn’t want to decide which one they would prefer. While dogs may be more dependable and give us plenty of unconditional love, cats are more independent but still offer us sufficient cuddles and affection that makes them an important part of the family.

Money-saving experts Voucherbox recently discovered in a survey how much pets are costing us throughout their lifetime. They also revealed that an incredible 51% of households in the UK own a pet and 25% of those have dogs, which is only 1% more than cats at 24%. This confirms that cats and dogs are probably the most popular pets in the UK – there were 9.4 million dogs and 11 million cats in households throughout the country in 2016.

Why We Love Dogs

Dogs are man’s best friend. They are always loyal, loving and fun to be with. They’re always pleased to see us and often shadow us around the house wherever we go. Our dogs are forever loving and faithful friends that adore and respect us. Dogs are dependable and they rely on us to walk them daily, feed them, groom them and let them in and out of the garden to do their business. They need us to be an essential provider for their happiness and comfort, to care for them and look after them, much like a human.

Why We Love Cats

Cats are popular pets because they are perhaps easier than dogs being so independent. They can get exercise by going through the cat flap and wandering wherever they want; they can feed themselves whenever they’re hungry (so long as there’s food in their bowls) and they don’t usually need a human to let them in and out of the garden to do their business. Cats will cuddle up with us on the sofa and can be quite needy in terms of a human company, but they will also want time alone. Cats seem to do everything on their terms and have a funny stubbornness which makes them amusing at times.

Co-habiting Friends

The myth of cats and dogs not getting on in the household is not so much true. Although their characters and needs can be quite different, they can also be very good friends. You will often see cats and dogs cuddle up or playing together nicely and they can sometimes have a sibling type of love/hate relationship. However, it seems cats may not have as much patience as dogs and look like they find a happy pooch sniffing them irritating at times, they are perhaps a little warier and less tolerant, very much showing that any kind of human or pet contact is always on their terms.

Cats and dogs are part of the family, faithful additions to the household that like to curl up close to their human pack. While cats are more independent and can be quite self-sufficient, dogs can be reliant but forever by our side. There should be no competition between our furry friends because regardless, they provide us with unconditional love, happiness and affectionate cuddles at the end of the day.

Are you a cat or a dog person or, like us, you simply love both?

What Fruit And Veg Shortage?

According to many market research studies, the general populous requires the following attributes when out shopping for food, especially fresh fruit and veg; a broad selection all year round and at a price that is deemed value for money (aka cheap). Now, as the world has evolved in our post modernisation era and as we creep into the digital age this “want” has become easier to achieve from a retailers perspective.

Gone are the masses of independent growers with their non-standardised shape, colour and prices replaced instead with a nice safe supply of perfectly formed identical looking cheap products, happy times hey. So how did they manage it….

Economy of scale is one factor, after all one mega grower only has one set of overheads whereas 100 little growers have an equal number of cost burdens. Also let’s not forget that our mega grower has huge negotiating power when fixing prices of overheads with other businesses, the more money you bring to the table the more the other party will concede to get a slice of the action. On the other hand, when taken to an extreme as is the case today it can become awe-inspiring just have a look at the greenhouses of Almeria in Spain where the “greenhouse” is the size of the Isle of Wight and can be seen from space.

Quick global transportation is another, you can get anything to any corner of the world in 24hours or less nowadays. Just browse your local veg section and see the huge diversity of originating countries involved in helping create that awesome display of colour and freshness. So those items grown in Almeria can be on your local supermarket shelves in a matter of hours.

The cost of the produce being the other pillar of support for this global mega-industry has its consequences too. Sticking with our example of Almeria you will find that no longer does the nostalgic memory of our veggies being nurtured by a friendly, wise old man from the soil as the adverts would have you believe. No, it is more cost effective and indeed essential (if you want fresh tomatoes in winter) to do away with the soil part completely, oh and ditch the old man as he is not efficient enough. Now we need miles and miles of identical rows of plants grown from fertiliser bags and drip fed the exact volume of nutrients at the right time to promote growth. Lob in a computerised system to monitor it and an automated picker and you can ditch the staff, more cost savings.

Finally, you are there with a mountain of produce that has cost the absolute minimum to produce and is due in the UK this afternoon, no problem, just need to do one more thing…

Ditch the “ugly” ones, after all no one wants to eat an ugly lettuce, it must look like the ones on TV or in our cook books, perfect, green, round and the correct size. So the ugly ones don’t get to go to the UK, only the beautiful ones. It has been calculated by many sources that around 1/3rd of all fruit and veg grown gets disposed of because it is not deemed beautiful, think on that for a moment.

So there is a lot a play when you go to your local supermarket and browse the fruit and veg section and it is awesome you can have a green salad in the depths of winter… that is until Mother Nature has a strop as she is oft prone to do. Back to Almeria and we are looking at over a billion pounds worth of produce heading to the skip and a void in your local shelf space.

So members of the UK populous think on these issues when you look at your reduced or even empty veg sections over the coming weeks and wonder if a partial return to the classic scene of our wise old man in the garden growing your seasonal produce wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all…

Is Anxiety Ruling Your Life?

It seems that in more recent years, there has become a greater awareness of mental health. Mental health disorders are considered common throughout the United States and research shows that millions of people are affected each year. Mental health disorders range from milder issues like anxiety and panic attacks to more extreme disorders of depression, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia.

The common condition of Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 3.1% of the U.S. adult population over a 12-month period and 32% of these cases are considered as a severe condition. This disorder creates excessive worrying about issues such as employment, finances, family, relationship and health. Sadly, it seems that only half of the sufferers look for help to aid anxiety, while the other half may not be aware that they could be actively getting professional advice or seeking out alternative therapies to improve their wellbeing.

Don’t Let Anxiety Stop You from Focusing on The Future…

Many people find that when they are anxious or depressed, they find it difficult to not only focus on living in the now, but also being able to focus on a positive future ahead. Anxieties and loss in confidence can hinder you from making plans and having inspiration on what you want to do in your life. Often, having goals for the future can especially help someone to look at making positive changes, even if it’s just one step at a time. Some people have also found that having something to look forward to and getting positive insight for the future from a tarot reading, empowers them to focus ahead and to feel more confident about life. Anxiety and stress can easily feel like it is taking over your life, but learning how to manage it by taking small steps, can make you feel more in control, making a huge difference.

Why Do We Get Anxious?

Anxiety and stress disorders are one of the most common issues in mental health, but they can also be one of the easiest to recover from. Most stress and anxiety is caused by feeling vulnerable, weak or out of control of your life. Often it may be because you are feeling unhappy about certain circumstances that you believe are beyond your control. Perhaps you are in a difficult relationship, or maybe you are miserable at work? Also, family issues and disagreements can cause anxious feelings and may be causing a stressful living environment. Professional counsellors have helped many people with these problems by educating them on how to take more control of their life, how to safeguard themselves and how to avoid or remove themselves from situations that may not be good for them. Mindfulness has also proved to be a useful therapy that enables people to focus on the here and now.

Alternative & Complementary Therapies

Treating mental health disorders with complementary therapies and alternative health is often successful but it very much depends on the person. These therapies are believed to increase wellbeing, promote better mental health and help a person to learn how to relax. Some therapies are not regulated, so it is important to work with someone who is fully trained with a professional qualification. Therapies range from aromatherapy, reflexology, Indian head massage, shiatsu, reiki, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy and hypnotherapy. There is not yet enough research being done to prove that these therapies truly help mental health disorders, but many people have found that they certainly lessen anxiety and stress levels, helping them to feel more relaxed.

Many mental health disorders need professional treatment, whether it’s medication, early intervention teams, professional talking therapies (counselling, CBT etc) or in extreme cases, electroconvulsive therapy. While every mental health disorder should be diagnosed and professionally recognised for appropriate treatments, we should also consider that perhaps some conditions like anxiety, could be alleviated by other treatments. However, anyone suffering from these conditions should always seek professional diagnosis and advice before looking to alternatives.