Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Photography: Camera Equipment - The Bilora

Ingredients Setting by Meeta K. Wolff

Over the past five years that I have invested in intensive food photography, I have learned so many vital things about the different aspects of tabletop photography. When I look back now, what began merely as a “hobby” has become not only a passion but something I am pursuing on a more professional level.  

My journey towards this goal has been an enormous learning experience, where I literally engulfed every bit of information and detail that brought me a step closer to my vision. I learnt how light and lighting, color, texture, focus, aperture (an so much more) all play essential roles in the final outcome of the image. These aspects convey the mood and elicit the atmosphere to the viewer.

What’s For Lunch, Honey? will be celebrating a grand five years of blogging next year and as I look back to the early days I remember so many instances that made me progress towards food photography as a serious “hobby”.

Having a good camera is of course an important factor. However, I always advice people, who write to me or when I am speaking at conferences, to buy the best camera your budget allows you to. Once you have that camera - learn how to use it - inside out!

One does not need to invest in a DSLR camera straight away, there are many qualitative high end point-and-shoot cameras on the market today that will do the job for a blogger looking to improve their photography skills for their blogs. Eventually, when you realize that food photography is something you would like to to invest more time and money in you will have no option but to make the switch to a DSLR camera.

The type of camera and the lens is subject to an entirely separate post but in this post I wanted to tackle something a little offside the camera topic. The motivation for this post actually comes from several emails I get asking me how I get the crystal clear images. While camera and knowing how to focus on the motive properly do play the biggest role, I also believe an additional piece of equipment, helps immensely.

The tripod, hardly mentioned and taken for granted when discussing photography, but I cannot stress enough what a big difference a tripod makes for critical photographs. Every serious amateur photographer should own at least one.

Using a tripod for close-ups of flowers, food or still-life shots will allow you better and more effective control over some of the more manual functions your camera offers. You can, for example, use a slower shutter speed without worrying about moving the camera as you take the picture, which in turn gives you the opportunity to use a smaller lens opening for greater depth of field. A greater depth of field requires the smallest lens opening you can manage and still have enough light getting into your camera for adequate exposure. Adding more light, using external lights, plus a slower shutter speed, will allow either you, or your camera's automatic circuitry, to pick a smaller lens opening. Depth of field, of course, is the amount of depth in an object that appears in sharp focus, as you will see the difference in the following two pictures.

Diptych Spring Veggies by Meeta K. Wolff

I love using the tripod because it allows me to set up my shot easily and I have my hands free. Having the camera mounted on a tripod gives me the chance to prepare my motive and all the props around the motive without having to constantly pick up the camera. The camera is fixed in a certain angle and position and looking through the lens, I begin to set up my motive and the props. Working this way, I find I am setting up the image perfectly for the chosen angle instead of trying to find the perfect angle for a pre-set shot.  Furthermore, it allows me to take a sort of a short breather, after framing, focusing, and setting the exposure, but before actually clicking off the picture. It’s that final moment of comfort and a short recap to see if all is in place before I click the image.

Diptych Setting by Meeta K. Wolff

I’ve been using a tripod for several years now and what was important to me while selecting the perfect tripod was that it had to be light, not bulky, easy to set up and allow me a full 360° rotation of the camera. My selection fell on the Bilora Tripod from the German company, Kürbi Otto Tönnes GmbH. Considering that the first tripods produced in Radevormwald (Germany) appeared around 100 years ago with the name PERFEKT and today Kürbi Otto Tönnes GmbH produces the new range of tripods under the name of Perfect Pro told me a bit about their experience. What’s more, call me biased, but the three little words “Made in Germany” have always attracted me in terms of quality and standards.

I’ve been using my Bilora Professional 1121 for the past 6 years now and recently had the opportunity to update the model to the Perfect Pro range (in German - but you can download the catalogue in English here). I went for the Aluminum A333 Multifunction model (in German), which is relatively light, gives improved stability, robustness and absorbs vibrations. I was delighted by the professional developed details and solutions offered and just how extraordinarily versatile it is. The special highlights are most definitely the removable monopod, the multi-purpose swivel-element for the center column and the two exchangeable ball heads (big and small). These ball heads were the real reason I initially chose the Bilora series and was extremely pleased that it was included in the Perfect Pro range. The ball head paired with the swivel-element allows me to pretty much shoot in an unlimited number of angels and positions without great effort or fiddling around.

Places Outdoor by Meeta K. Wolff

It’s a versatile tripod and can be used for all kinds of subjects - indoors and outdoors; the metal spike on the end of the legs gives a firm grip outdoors, whilst the rubber caps protect parquet and other delicate surfaces. Delivery of the tripod includes a carrying case, shoulder strap and a small column for those close to the floor frog view shots.

Amazon.de offers this tripod for about 205 € and it is worth the investment in every way.
The support team for Bilora is extremely helpful and answered all my questions, in English, promptly. If you have any questions and are considering investing in a new tripod, please contact them: info@bilora.de. I can most definitely vouch for the “Made in Germany” quality.

Plate to Page Sponsored by Bord Bia

From Plate to Page Update

We’ve got some very HOT news to share with everyone. From Plate to Page is now sponsored by the fantastic and truly delicious Bord Bia – the Irish Food Board.

We are super excited about the prospect of working together with the wonderful people at Bord Bia on the From Plate to Page workshop in Weimar and introducing our participants to the rich diversity of Irish products available. Read all about our partnership with Bord Bia in our latest article It Takes Two.

 


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2011 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

42 comments :

  1. Meeta, very nice post. But I know there are lot of ppl there who want to know/understand how you style the photos, frame it, what angle you shoot, etc ( you almost always have vertical photos, right?). Would like to read about that too.

    Thanks

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  2. Thanks for the post, Meeta. Very insightful esp. for a novice photographer like me.

    And congratulations on WFLH? turning 5! Didn't realize I've been a fan of you and your blog that long :)

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  3. Very informative post Meeta, only you had posted this a montha go, i bought a tripod a month ago :-( so cant buy another one mine is Manfrotto.

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  4. I just bought a tripod but struggling to use it (no instructions!). Setting up the shot around the postition rather than the other way round is a great tip. Useful and informative post as well as the lovely pics.

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  5. Very interesting! You are extremely talented. Keep up with the great work.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. Great post! So impressed you actually travel with your tripod as well! I think I need a bigger suitcase...

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  7. Very useful, thanks a million for the 'nuts and bolts' style posting. Just looking into tripods lately, so this couldn't have come at a better time! Living in Czech Republic it's common here for people to order from the amazon.de site, so I'll def check out brands there.

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  8. Hi Meeta

    what a great tutorial on photography! It certainly is an area we can all use help in!
    Thanks for all you do for the community!
    Dennis

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  9. I can't tell you how helpful this article was to me. You explained everything so well in terms I can understand. I actually bought a book on digital food photography and it was so technical I couldn't figure out what he was talking about. I'm sure my next photos will improve. Thanks!

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  10. Hi Meeta, first time commenting here :) I only found your blog a few weeks ago - and what a treat!
    I'm taking photography classes to learn how to use my new Nikon, and yesterday I bought my first tripod! I love your photographs, and this post is very clear & useful - thanks for sharing

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  11. I love seeing your work in all its forms. Thank you so much for sharing your secrets.

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  12. yes to Tripod! A great post, Meeta!

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  13. Thanks for the info on this. I don't use a tripod -- I have one, but it's for a light weight video camera we no longer have, so it's a bit awkward for my camera and heavy lens making it essentially useless. Thank goodness I can still have a steady hand most times. I've been thinking about a real tripod to put on my wish list. Here it is!

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  14. Hi there sweetie, would you believe the hub just got me a tripod from HKG last night, and then I see this post. It's not a Bilora-hahahaha, but will settle for what I have for now. Thank you for sharing your expertise. This is one post I shall return to often. {Bilora on my wishlist!!}

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  15. Even though I do find a tripod a bit restrictive and like to shoot hand held whenever I can, I have to agree that a tripod really makes for sharp photographs.
    And there are situations when only using a tripod can give you the sharpness and clarity you want.

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  16. wow...wonderful and informative article..:)

    Dr.Sameena@

    http://www.myeasytocookrecipes.blogspot.com/

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  17. Thanks to everyone for your feedback and commnents. I am glad that you are all finding this post helpful and my suggestions beneficial. I am also loving hearing whether you use a tripod or not. Keep your thoughts and feedback coming.

    @Sheetal: There is much to discuss on the topic of photography! Styling, angles, lighting etc. I could dedicate a whole blog to this. Maybe you should visit one of our P2P workshops where we have a whole 3 days to discuss and practice all this with you ;o)

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  18. Wow! I should really start taking advantage of my tripod!

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  19. Wow, almost 5 years, that's amazing! Congratulations. Your work is beautiful and your passion for it comes through in all of your images.

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  20. Thank you for this wonderful write up Meeta...I now know what is going to get packed into Rohit's luggage when he comes for the Messe in April. :-)

    Actually, I'm quite happy with my Bogen Manfrotto tripods but the ball heads are a pain! was thinking about getting "really right stuff" ball heads but they have different plates for different cameras and once u change u r camera it means u change the plate which is tedious considering they don't have offices here in India. I will definitely take a look at this now. Thanks once again.

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  21. meeta... this is such a great post... much needed for amateur photographers like me :)

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  22. Hi Meeta,

    Your post is so informative. Thank you so much. I like to take food photographs (though no way close to you) too but struggling with low light. As I cook in the evening and I have very dim light inside the house, it's very hard for me to take crystal clear pictures. It would be great if you write something in future about the light and lighting condition you use.

    Thanks again,

    Soma

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  23. Just found your blog. The photos are beautiful!

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  24. I really like reading about bloggers' tips for photography! Your images are always beautiful and nicely presented..

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  25. Great post Meeta! I am completely in awe of your styling abilities and photography skills and it's always great to find out more about what is going on behind the scenes!

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  26. Thank you for this informative post Meeta! Have a lovely weekend :-)

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  27. A great post on photography and tripods Meeta! It's often a forgotten piece of equipment but so very essential. Thank you!

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  28. Lovely info on tripod and its effects on photography. Looking forward for more of such useful posts from you, Meeta. Best wishes.

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  29. That's very informative post on photography. I just started using a tripod, but still struggling to get some good pictures. Thank you Meeta for taking your time to give this useful information to us :)

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  30. I can't live without my tripod now that I have one and I am slowly remembering all of my long forgotten photography knowledge. Because I love your blog and have been following you for years, I want to pass on this stylish blog award that someone gave me yesterday. I am supposed to to send it on to the blogs that i love, so here you go!
    http://theyumyumfactor.blogspot.com/2011/02/its-friday-so-it-must-be-soup-feb-18.html

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  31. Thanks for the info meeta - this was a great informative post.

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  32. Thanks a lot , Meeta for this wonderful article. It answered a lot of questions I had.

    And Congrats on completing 5 years of WFLH? I keep coming back to your blog for inspiration.

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  33. Thank you for the timely post. As you may know, I am a true novice at photography and am anxious to learn all I can. We do have a tripod, it is time that I dust it off and use it. Now I have to learn more about the camera itself.

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  34. Thanks for the info Meeta! and congrats on your five year anniversary and all the recognition!

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  35. Meta I am so happpy to have found you via Flikr! I have a food blog as well Ya Salam Cooking which is going on 4 years. I have always loved photography but did not take it as serious. Most pictures on my blog make me sick when I look back on them lol. I just bought a professional Canon and I am so happy with it and the pictures I now take. I hardly have any lighting in my home which is bad as we all know natural is best. I have a tripod but I have yet to open it. I am not so creative when it comes to styling food as I would like to be so thanks for the tips. Anymore would be GREAT for me :)


    Noor

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  36. Meeta,
    Congratulations on the sponsorship. And, one again great post. Just loved it. The tripod is really a lesser thought of thing when comes to photography. Nobody really makes it a point to talk about tripods. Your post was an enjoyable read.

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  37. Wow thank you very much for this post. I really liked the information.

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  38. Hi, great shoots. By the way I love your blog. Do you use the Canon 5d mark II?

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta