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?

* This is a collaborative post.

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.

* This is a collaborative post.

Is Cabbage a Superfood?

Cabbage can increase the immunity level of our body, help us to prevent anemia and swelling; it can cure hangovers, some joints diseases and even provide healthy beautiful nails, hair and skin.

Cabbage can increase the immunity level of our body, help us to prevent anemia and swelling; it can cure hangovers, some joints diseases and even provide healthy beautiful nails, hair and skin. Most people hate cabbage. Most people think it’s boring, hard to digest and generally a bad tasting vegetable when in fact the humble cabbage is full of wonders! Ancient Greeks used it as an antidote for mushroom poisoning, to heal bruises or as a laxative; ancient Romans used it to cure hangovers… as the years were passing by we discovered more and more about the health benefits of cabbage.

Cabbage is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals including a high content of vitamin K and C, folate, iron and vitamin B6 to name just a few of the common ones. It’s a perfect weight loss food – low in calories, high in fiber and packed with necessary nutrients. Eating cabbage can help detox our body, lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar; cabbage has anti-inflammatory, probiotic and antioxidant properties; it promotes brain health and can improve our defenses against neural degenerative conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Ideally, cabbage should be eaten as close to a raw state as possible. Cabbage juice can truly work wonders (you will need about 2kg of cabbage for 1l of juice) and our body assimilates it within minutes. It’s advised to drink 200ml of cabbage juice about 30 minutes before a meal three times a day (if we feel bloated adding carrot or spinach juice can help to relieve this discomfort). The juice must be fresh so making a large amount in advance isn’t advised. Also, the cabbage itself must be “as healthy” as possible, so go organic.

Eating and drinking cabbage juice is one thing but there are also many benefits from using raw cabbage on its own in a different way. Cabbage leaves can help to relieve pain from our body, they work as an antiseptic removing toxins from the skin. They can treat joint pains, burns, frostbites, ulcers, blisters, cold sores, insect bites or hard healing wounds. To prepare a cabbage compress, take a few large, fresh cabbage leaves and gently crush them with a rolling pin until you can smell it (I know it might sound weird but once you do it, you will know exactly what I mean at that precise moment). Then apply it to the affected area. Heating up the leaves before application can intensified the effect – you can heat them up by placing the leaves on a warm radiator or if you’re lucky in some direct sun for a few minutes.

Another use for cabbage is a beauty mask – it has anti-aging properties and if used regularly can really benefit our skin. To prepare a cabbage beauty mask mix 2 tablespoons of fresh cabbage juice with 2 tablespoons of apple juice, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of fresh yeast. Apply to your face and neck and leave on for 20-25 minutes.

I don’t know about you but I am totally sold on cabbage!

Are you a cabbage lover?

 

For some more cabbage related inspiration check out:

4 Ways To Boost Your Body Confidence

If you’re not happy with the way you look, now could be the time to make some changes. Whether you’re self-conscious about your weight or you’re not happy with your hair, a lack of body confidence can really take its toll on your self-esteem and even your quality of life. To help you feel better about your appearance, take a look at the following four tips.

Banish those bad hair days

It’s amazing how much a good haircut can affect your confidence. So, if you’ve started to feel like every day’s a bad hair day, why not book an appointment for a restyle? Switching up your hairstyle is a great starting point for an image overhaul. Whether you go shorter, get extensions, go curly, go straight or change colour, your new do could help to put a spring back in your step. Check out this season’s latest trends online or pick up a magazine for some inspiration, and don’t be afraid to try something completely new.

What if you’re worried about thinning hair though? It’s not quite as simple as booking a restyle if you’re concerned that your locks are falling out. You’ve probably heard about men’s hair loss treatments. For example, Finaseride for hair loss, which is better known under the brand name Propecia, is taken in tablet form and it can be an effective treatment for male pattern baldness. In fact, 90 per cent of men who use it experience hair regrowth. You might not realise it, but there are specialist treatments available for women too. For example, if you have female pattern baldness and you want to stop or reverse your hair loss, you may want to try out a lotion containing minoxidil. Up to a quarter of women who use this treatment see hair regrowth.

Find sustainable ways to get in shape

Are you sick of perpetual dieting and do you struggle to stick to your fitness routine? For many people, losing weight is a lifelong battle. However, there are ways to make getting in shape easier. For example, rather than trying to completely cut certain foods out of your diet, why not simply reduce your portion sizes at meal times? This is much easier to keep up than a restrictive eating regime.

When it comes to exercise, try to find ways to incorporate more activity into your daily schedule. For example, could you swap your car keys for a cycle helmet on your commute to work? Cycling to and from the office each day can be a great way to burn calories and get fit. If you catch the bus, perhaps you could try getting off a couple of stops earlier to give your legs more of a workout. Simply getting into the habit of taking the stairs rather than the lift should help you burn calories too. You could also test out a new sport. From swimming to badminton, there’s no shortage of options.

Don’t expect miracle results straight away, but this sustainable approach to shedding weight makes it easier to stay trim over the long term.

Revamp your wardrobe

For an instant body confidence boost, treat yourself to some retail therapy. Refreshing your wardrobe with some gorgeous new clothes is one of the easiest ways to feel better about yourself. Make sure you pick out silhouettes that flatter your figure, and try out new combinations and colours to really revamp your look.

Even if you’re waiting until you’ve trimmed down to restock your wardrobe, there are still some staples you can pick out that should make you feel great about yourself. From chic blazers to fabulous footwear and showstopper jewellery, some new additions to your clothing and accessory collection could work wonders for your self-esteem.

Stop comparing yourself to others

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, resist the temptation to continually compare yourself to others. It’s virtually impossible to feel good about the way you look if you’re always judging yourself against images of airbrushed celebs. Instead, focus on learning to love your quirks and features. Doing this should help you to carry yourself with more confidence and it could save you a whole lot of stress.

* This is a collaborative post.