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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. I can most definitely vouch for the “Made in Germany” quality.
From Plate to Page Update
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.
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