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How to Take Better Food Pictures: Part 2

Hey guys!

Today I’ll be sharing part 2 in the “How to Take Better Food Pictures” series my friend Ben is writing for me. He’s starting basic and working up towards more advanced!

In case you missed part 1, check that out first: How to Take Better Food Pictures. Enjoy!

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How to Take Better Pictures of Your Food

Part 2: Stabilize Your Shot!

by: Ben Powell

Hey everyone, I’m back with another food photography tip! We’re still starting with some real basic concepts but I’m sure this is something even you DSLR users either forget about, or don’t go through the trouble to do. But it’s super important! So without any further delay, here is food photo tip #2: Stabilize Your Shot!

Last time we talked about how you should get rid of the flash so your food doesn’t look so washed out and how natural light is really the best thing for your food to look good. But what happens when it’s night time? Or you just don’t have a good source of natural light? You may notice that when you take pictures of your food without flash sometimes, the colors may look better but the picture comes out so blurry! Check out these shots:


Canon Powershot


iPhone4

Ewww. Blurry! What are we even looking at? Doesn’t make it look very appetizing. The reason our cameras are doing this is because it’s too dim in the room, so the shutter of the camera (the thing that goes "click") stays open longer to let more light in. But, if your hand is shaking even a tiny bit, the camera is going to record it and it will show up in your photo as motion-blur. No matter how still you think you can hold your hand, we all shake and we can’t do anything about it. A lot of point and shoot cameras will give you a warning if it’s too dark to keep the image sharp.


Taking it handheld?


Better Read the Signs!

Fortunately in the case of food photography, your subject doesn’t move at all (unless you’re being extremely adventurous) so we can simply use a tripod to stabilize our shots! You probably aren’t going to want to lug a big ol’ tripod everywhere you go (although it’s good to have one) but there is a really elegant solution that can be found with GorillaPod. I have a GorillaPod that fits onto my iPhone4 (it comes with a special bumper to secure your iPhone to it) but you can get them to fit any size camera including DSLRs. AND they’re small enough to fit in your bag or purse so you can take it everywhere you might take your camera anyway!


Mini Tripod and GorillaPod

Simple enough, right? Actually, there’s one more precautionary step we’ll need to take, and that’s to make sure we put our cameras on a 2 second timer. That’s because the actual action of pushing the button will cause the camera shake enough to make your picture blurry! Some of you may have already figured out how to put your camera on a timer and thought to yourself: "Why the heck would I ever need a 2 second timer?" Well, mystery solved. You’re welcome.

Timers are always signified by the little clock symbol. They’re in different places on each camera, but here they are on my cameras:


Timer Button on my Canon Powershot


Timer Button on a Canon Rebel t2i
The iPhone is a little different. There are tons of apps out there, but I use one called "ProCamera" which has an anti-shake button (it waits to take the picture until it detects there’s no shake).

Anti-Shake Button on the ProCamera app

If you combine the use of a tripod with this 2-second-timer technique, your pictures should come out quite nicely. Here are the final results:


Canon Powershot


iPhone4
Much better, huh?
Stay tuned for next month’s tip!

Ben is a freelance photographer and musician in the DC Metro area. Need a portrait, wedding, or engagement photographer? Click here for more details.

————-

Thanks for the great guest post, Ben! I actually just purchased a tripod the other day — even though I do almost all my food photography outdoors (and therefore don’t need to worry much about motion-blur), I found that even if I’m outside, if I’m using my macro lens to take REALLY close shots (like the one at the top of the post) it’s hard to keep still enough without a tripod. I love the 2-second timer tip — I’ll try that next time!

Do you guys have a tripod? Have you ever used the 2-second timer option?

———-

Oh, and while we’re talking about Ben — remember that fun photo shoot I did with him a couple months ago in DC? He sent me the rest of the photos! Here are a few of my favorites :)

Me jumping 2 with laptop2

with camera

Fun, huh? :) Thanks again, Ben!

Comments

  1. 1

    I feel the second one captures a dietetic intern!

  2. 3

    Thanks for the great tips Ben! I have a tripod, but it’s still in the box ;) (I bought it three months ago)

  3. 4

    Awesome tip!!!! I was actually just grumping about my pictures being too blurry!!!

  4. 5

    Looks like I’m gonna be borrowing Ben’s gorilla pod now… hehe. He’s my own brother but I didn’t really believe him on the value of having a tripod until he guest posts on your blog about it! Go figure.

    Happy to see my (formerly un-busted) laptop make an appearance, too! And it makes total sense that you would need a mechanical pencil when working on a laptop… totally…. hahahahahaaa :D

  5. 7

    Great tips! Thanks. :-)

  6. 8

    This is really interesting! thanks ( i need all the help I can get :)

  7. 9

    This is really helpful, I’m very interested in working on my photography. Thanks for the tips!

    Cute pics Anne :)

  8. 10

    Ah, I love your jumping jeans in Ben’s shot of you!! So cute!

    Great tips, Ben, and thanks for letting him share!!

  9. 11

    I think the second pic should’ve gone in your header :)
    Nice camera strap!

  10. 12

    Those photos of you are a. dorable!

  11. 13

    Fantastic tips!!!!

    And I love those pictures of you at the end! Adorable!

  12. 14
    Jen Robinson says:

    Glad Ben’s getting good use of the gorillapod Dan and I got him last Christmas :)

  13. 15

    Wow, love Ben’s photos of you! Tell Ben to check this out if he hasn’t seen it already, or any of your photographer readers too: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/22/technology/22camera.html. This guy made a company after working at Stanford to pioneer this technology, and we collaborated with their lab so we even have one built in our lab too (although for biological imaging, not for photos). Pretty cool, eh?

  14. 17

    We have a tripod for our camera, and I’ve never used it! Now I can’t wait to pull it out of hiding! I also love the two second timer trick.

  15. 18

    Thanks for the guest post — very informative!

    I have to buy that tripod the SECOND I reward myself with a point-and-shoot.

  16. 19

    This is a great series! I am still learning my DSLR and love any new tips! Thanks!

  17. 20

    I just bought a remote for my Rebel, they’re around $20 dollars and it has both a 15 second and 2 second timer on it…thanks for the great tips!

    • 21

      Yeah, remotes are a great way to go! You don’t even need to use the timer if you shoot with the remote. I use the 2 second timer when taking self portraits, ’cause it gives me *just* enough time to hide the remote from the camera and strike a pose.

  18. 22

    Great tips, Thx!
    I always take pix of my food so my sister can drool from afar! ;-)

    I have an iPhone-4, but never use the camera, unless needed, because of the terrible resolution!
    (I like the droid’s “camera” better!)

    And totally cute “jumping photos” of you ;-)
    Thanks for sharing!

  19. 23

    Very informative Anne. Just to show you how much I love your blog, I fell and broke my nose in 2 places and broke my elbow last night at home by tripping over my shoelaces. I just had to hobble over to the computer today. Have fun this weekend and Happy Independence Day on Monday. Love ya.

    • 24

      Oh my gosh, you poor thing! :( So glad you are okay – I hope your recovery is speedy!

      • 25

        Thanks Anne. Everyone including the medical team questioned my husband because this left me with 2 black eyes. I assured them it was an accident. Hahaha

  20. 26

    I heart the photo of you with your computer.

    Great photo-takin’ tips! :)

  21. 27

    I’ve only ever thought to put the camera on a counter or other surface above the Food….heh, tripod. DUH.

    Ben, solving the 2-second self-timer issue?! Brilliant. Who knew it was there for purposes other than irritating people who *meant* to put it on the 10-second option, and end up with a picture Fail. ;)

  22. 29

    Great tips! Guess it’s time to get the tripod out of the box ;)

  23. 30

    This really makes me wish I had a camera! lol I usually just take pictures with my mac :-) lol

  24. 31

    These are some great tips! And I love those little mini tripods! How handy! :D

  25. 32

    such great tips! thankss!!!!

  26. 33

    I loveee the pic of you jumping int he air!!

  27. 34

    I took a photography class a month ago and we had a field trip for our final assignment and I brought my tripod and wouldn’t you know, it broke before I could use it for the assignment. Ugh.

  28. 36

    These are great tips, Anne, thanks so much!

  29. 37

    I’ve been thinking about getting a gorillapod for a while. They’re so crazy cheap, it’s great. And I never would have thought about the 2second timer.
    Thanks Ben!

  30. 38

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the tips! I can’t wait to try these out (especially the 2 second timer!) I can’t believe I never thought of that. So simple, yet so useful.

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