Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Pictures from MasterChef Live 2011, 13th November at London Olympia

As I perused the stalls at this year's MasterChef Live at Olympia, there was a heady mix of world coffees, spices, infusions and an assortment of other exotic aromas, all under one roof.

It's really all about the food, but it gave me an opportunity to take in the atmosphere and one or two celebrities spotted along the way. I have had an interest in food photography for a while but this was a chance to see a variety of dishes being prepared there and then. Here are a selection of images I took at from the day:


Monday, 7 November 2011

Sugar and Spice: 5 Top Tips for Photographing cakes and other foods

I've recently started taking photographs of food more seriously, mainly as a result of a new business that my fiance has started, making cupcakes. This has really given me an opportunity to see what I can do technically. The main thing is to make the food look as irresistible as possible.

Here are a few very basic tips that I've found useful in getting started:
  1. Timing

    Some food may be perishable and so of course the food will look better, the fresher it is. It might be useful to set up in advance of the food being prepared or delivered.

  2. Setting Up

    When setting up the food, think about the arrangement of the food and the context. Decide on whether, for example, a bowl or a plate will work best. Fruit would normally be served or kept in a bowl. But this might not suit the particular mood you are setting.

  3. Lighting

    This is really important. This helps set the right atmosphere. The amopunt of light you use will depend on the subject and the context in which you are portraying the food. For example, it might be seasonal. Perhaps using a device such as a window, or maybe more subtle visible lighting such as a candle can help give warmth. Try an be clever and use walls and reflective surfaces effectively. Adding a glazing to bread with olive oil will also add an appetizing glow.

  4. Composition

    Think about the arrangement of the food to provide the best composition, applying the same processes that you would for any photograph. Sometimes, less is more and try and avoid too much clutter. Practice photographing both narrow and wider shots and from a number of positions to see what works best.

  5. Perspective

    Keeping a low perspective and angle than from up above makes a much more interesting shot. This also adds extra depth of field and can accentuate detail and focus on a particular area.
You might also like to have a look at my Food collection on Flickr.

Cupcakes at a cake tasting event
Festive Mince Pies
Freshly baked focaccia bread
Mini cupcakes on display

Yule log at a set table

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Edinburgh: yon Empress of the North

Last week I spent spent several days up in Edinburgh (also once affectionately nicknamed "Auld Reekie", because when buildings were heated by coal and wood fires, chimneys would spew thick columns of smoke into the air. Certainly there were signs off this from the blackened facades of old Georgian buildings.

Early morning mist, Edinburgh

Never having been to Edinburgh before, I wanted to cover some of the main places of interest in the city centre. This included the Castle and the Royal Mile, the Scottish National Gallery (with a small but lovely collection of the great Impressionists altogether in one small room), The National Museum of Scotland, Princes Street, the Scott Monument, Calton Hill and the monuments around that area, as well as a walk up Arthur's Seat (well worth the hike).

The weather couldn't be better for late October - bright sunshine for most of the time and relatively warm. I was prepared for more gloom and anticipated a more 'moody' setting, but the strong light meant that my best images were in the early morning, just after dawn and again towards dusk. I didn't want the hassle of traveling up on the train with the addition of my tripod and so, inevitably, this limited my scope for night photography.

St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
Edinburgh certainly has one of the most attractive and dramatic skylines to be found in Britain and I took advantage of this whenever possible. There are great views from Calton Hill as well as Arthur's Seat, where the summit offers the best panorama of the city and surrounding area. I shot mostly in RAW, so that I could work with my images once I got back. Any images where I thought the exposure was just too far off or the white balance was wrong, I binned them instantly.

I thought I might have had chance to take more street performers, but I guess with it being October it was a bit late for that (the Edinburgh Fringe is through August). That said, there was more than a few bagpipers on the Royal Mile and Princes Street.

The cannons of the Half Moon Battery, Edinburgh Castle, as well as in Calton Hill park made for some interesting shots, with city backdrops, experimenting with narrow depth of field. Some good interior shots in the Castle's halls and palaces too.

Royal Crests, Edinburgh Castle

Sadly, there wasn't enough time to do everything, or see everything, but I think I got the most I could from those few days, but definitely want to go back, even if just for a few days again, as part of a longer tour through Scotland.

You can see my Edinburgh Collection on Flickr.