General Musing

[Guest post] : Tips for Pastry Photography


Today, we are putting up a guest post done by Jessica of Jessicathebaker.wordpress.com.

She was the winner of our “I’m a Baking Enthusiast” award and has gracefully at our invitation did up a very comprehensive post on tips to make your bakes look much better in a photo!

With further ado, do enjoy the article! It’s really very well written and informative!

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Tips for Pastry Photography

First of all, I would like to thank My Dear Bakes for giving me the opportunity of doing a guest post about photography! My name is Jessica and I blog at Jessica’s baking blog. Since my blog is all about food, I have to deal with food photography. Professional photography in itself can be a challenge, and from my perspective, food photography is even more challenging trying to capture the food to look appealing and delicious. Thankfully, I’ve got my sister that is into photography and she has taken most of the pictures on my blog. So here are a few tips from her.

General Tips for both a Point-and-Shoot Camera or Professional DSLR Camera

These are some general guidelines for photography that apply to both a small point-and-shoot camera, and a large professional camera. For some of the earlier pictures on the blog I used a Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot camera and now I use a EOS Rebel T4i Canon camera.

Use Natural Light and Avoid Flash as Much as Possible

Natural light is essential for setting the mood of your photo. It gives a softer, realistic feel to the picture and brings out the real beauty and colors of your pastry/dessert.  Try to take your picture next to a window where light is streaming through. The best time of day for natural light is early morning or afternoon when the sun is gentle.  If you live in northern cloudy climates, overcast days generally provide perfect lighting for photography, so make the most of it! If you want, go outside and find a nice place with good lighting to take a picture of your pastry. Remember to keep from having any shades falling on your pastry, such as having your pastry positioned in the sun, and half in the shade. It will make the image look patchy and you will end up with odd dark spots in your image that will make it look unprofessional.

Try to avoid flash at all costs. Flash is very harsh and gives pictures an artificial feel. It accentuates unnecessary shadows and overall makes the picture look very unprofessional. Using flash also causes your photo to look flat as the light bounces on the surface of your subject (the pastry/dessert you are taking a picture of). I know most people like using flash because they feel it will brighten up the image, but learn to wean yourself off, and you will see a difference in your pictures. It’s easier to correct and brighten a dark image than to correct an image taken with flash. If your room is too dark, try taking a picture near a window, and if necessary turn on the light. Otherwise, just use natural light, then edit and brighten your image with a photo editing software such as Photoshop.

Turn off the light!

Another notealong the lines of natural light. Avoid the temptation of turning on the light if you’re inside- especially if it’s white fluorescent light. That will kill your photo. White fluorescent light gives the same effect as flash does to a photograph. Also incandescent light can cause your image to look yellowish. So try not to take pictures at night. In some situations when my sister baked in the evening, I had no choice but to take a picture with the light on, so I used the light, but tried editing it in Photoshop.

 pastry1

 

 

 

 

 

Image from : www.teacher-chef.com

Get to know your camera settings

There are some settings available on even a regular point-and-shoot camera that will enhance or “correct” your photos if you are using white fluorescent light. You can adjust your camera settings for white balance (called AWB on the camera). If you have a DSLR camera, adjust your AWB to white fluorescent light, or Tungsten light.

For a Point-and-shoot Camera

Since it’s kind of limited in its settings, with a point-and-shoot camera I try to shoot in Macro mode because that will give me a less depth of field (if you’re not familiar with depth of field, it’s how much blurriness you have in the background and a clear focus on your object). Also, if I want to brighten my images I increase my exposure by clicking the button with a plus and minus symbol. It’s important not to brighten it too much, because as mentioned before, an image that is too bright is harder to correct than one that is darker.

For a DSLR Camera

Okay, so if you have a DSLR Camera I would use a 50mm lens for food photography because this lens gives you less depth of field which is great for food photography. I usually shoot with an aperture of f/1.8 for an even lesser depth of field, but sometimes if I have a big cake I increase the aperture so I can have most of the cake in focus, not just a small part of it, but I still get some blurriness in the background. I try not to increase the ISO too much (if I need to brighten my image) because at some point it will make my images look grainy. So what I usually do is decrease the shutter speed to brighten my image. I try to play with my settings first and then take the “real” picture.

Get up close & change your angle

A great secret to food photography is the angle of the photo and the scale, or how close-up vs. how zoomed out the object of the picture is. Most food photographers take several close up pictures because it brings out the detail of the food, makes it look more delicious and interesting. A far away, zoomed out image of a dish will minimize the importance of your photo subject and distract attention to the background, making your pastry/dish look ordinary or uninteresting. So get up a little closer to your pastry, or zoom in, but make sure it doesn’t get blurred. Also be careful not to get too close- if your pastry fills in the whole picture or viewfinder of the camera, it will overwhelm the image because it has no background, no edges, so it looks like a whole flat surface- as if you took a picture of the surface of the moon or a planet, if you get what I mean.
To make your photo look interesting, experiment with the angle or perspective of your photo. Don’t just take a picture of your pastry so it’s all centered in the middle. Take a picture at eye level, below eye level, or a bird’s eye view from the top. Take a picture of just the corner of the pastry, or the side, or anywhere in-between. Study different food images that you really admire and see the angle of the photo. Is it taken from the side?  Is it from the bottom, looking up at the food? Or from the very top?

 pastry2

 

 

 

 

 

Image from : vibestudio.co.uk

Arrange the food, decorate &create a background for your photo

Use creativity and give a nice background for your pastry to make it even more attractive. Adding little details to your picture will illustrate the beauty of your dessert. For example, if you made a pastry with berries, scatter a few berries on your plate next to the pastry, or take a picture of your pastry with a bite in it, so the berry filling can be seen inside. It’s important to have contrasting background or complementing colors. If your pastry is light in color, use a dark background. If the plate you are using is dark colored, place it in a neutral or white background. If you like a rustic feel to your pictures, add background objects like wicker baskets, wooden spoons and checkered kitchen towels. For anelegant Victorian style accent, add porcelain and silverware, crystal/glass cups, even plants in the background.
Experiment with anything you have on hand. Use bowls, flat platters, cutting boards and other kitchen tools to decorate your image. Remember not to clutter too much, because in the end, the focus should be on your pastry.

pastry3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image from : wallpapersus.com

Editing your photos

Most times it’s best to tweak your photos a bit before you put them up on your blog. I use Photoshop to do it, but there are also other free programs similar to Photoshop you can download and use. One of them is GIMP and has a lot of the features/menus  that Photoshop does. What I usually change in my photos are:

Contrast
Brightness
Vibrance
Sharpness

You have to play with these depending on your picture. Each photographer has their own style, so there is no set rule on how much tweaking you do on them, but care should be taken with the contrast- too much will make it look really bad. And with the other aspects, change them gradually and in moderation.

Have fun!

35 thoughts on “[Guest post] : Tips for Pastry Photography

  1. An excellent post and tutorial. I wish I had seen this a year ago. Over time, I learned through trial-and-error. So now, I am confirmed that I’m doing somethings right, plus I learned more today. As a foodie, and not a photographer, photography part of the process is most challenging for me. ;) Thank you Jessica and MyDearBakes! :D

  2. I really like that you talk about enhancing photos with a point and shoot. A DLSR is on my to buy list this year, but in the meantime I wrangle the best photos I can with my (not actually that bad) point and shoot. Although I already do most of these things; it’s nice to know I’m doing it “right”.

  3. Thanks for featuring one of my photos – my fiance took that one and it is still one of my favorite photos (especially since that cake survived a car accident… that photo was luckily before the run-in with the dear!)

  4. Love the article, I am hopeless, always using my iPhone when I have a really nice DLSR. I’m going to start setting up a place in my house to take better photos that look more professional.

  5. This is an excellent post! Thanks so much for sharing, Jessica and MyDearBakes! My photography has definitely gotten better over the past year but there’s still a ton for me to learn.

  6. really good, useful article, apparantly I’m doing some things right and must try harder in other areas – but I take my pictures with my phone, so really limited on how to do it. Maybe my daughter will let me borrow her expensive camera instead :D

  7. Pingback: Year in Review 2013 | mydearbakes

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