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.

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?

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 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:

Morning Fruit Booster Smoothie

A fresh and zingy morning smoothie which will wake you up and help you stay energized for those busy hours to come.

A fresh and zingy morning smoothie which will wake you up and help you stay energized for those busy hours to come.Sometimes it’s really hard to wake up in the morning and once we are up even a cup of coffee can’t always help us to stay awake. Well, next time you have one of those mornings, try my fruit booster morning smoothie. It will definitely help your energy levels peak and it will also provide your body with some much-needed vitamins and microelements.

One thing to remember: quality over quantity! Good quality ingredients are becoming harder to come by. Low-quality food, including fruit and veggies, is cheap but at the same time worthless to our body. I know it might sound like a no brainier to some but always buy organic ingredients… yes, I know they cost more but we are what we eat… I think it is better by any measure to buy less of something and get to truly enjoy its real taste rather than a big plastic-wrapped bag of intensely farmed produce at a knocked down price. That’s not to mention the benefits obtained from eating healthy naturally grown foods. Thus ends the sermon, now what do we need for that pick me up smoothie…

Ingredients:

  • 250ml chilled coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 large red grapefruit
  • 1 orange
  • 1 pear
  • 1 red apple
  • Ice cubes (optional)

A fresh and zingy morning smoothie which will wake you up and help you stay energized for those busy hours to come.Method:

Wash and quarter the apple and pear.

Wash and peel the banana and orange then chop into smaller chunks.

Chop in half and remove all the red flesh from the grapefruit. If you have a sweet grapefruit or you don’t mind an abundance of zinginess you might just peel and chop it. I normally just add the fleshy parts without any of the white pith bits which separate the segments as these can be very bitter.

As for the preparation part of the process simply add the coconut water into your blended, pop all your prepared fruits in and blend for 10-15 seconds on a high speed or until it is visibly smooth.

Serve over ice if you fancy a colder refreshment.

Enjoy!

Morning Fruit Booster Smoothie. A fresh and zingy morning smoothie which will wake you up and help you stay energized for those busy hours to come.