An apple a day

Food photography is very different from other types of photography.

For starters, you have to do things to the food that a real cook would not do. After all, how many people would peel an apple in such a way that peel is left on the apple? Only a food stylist, m'dear, only a food stylist.

And, let's get real, but how many people would take the time to have such pretty peel? And so artfully arranged next to the corer?

Nice apple chunks, pretty cinnamon sprinkles, goodly dash of nutmeg and cloves ... sooner or later, all food has to get real.

Especially when you look at the cooked-down version which is, let's face it, mushy. As is all applesauce.

Ta da: The final product - real food that I am about to really eat. But is it food photo worthy? Alas. The one thing I have learned in only a few days of food photography is that food that is photographed and food that is eaten are two very, very different creatures. So, for those of you that wish to learn-from-me in my food photography journey, here are a few tips:
  • Turn the heat off. Unless you want that ethereal "it's London in the 1800s and coal dust has made a fog so thick you can barely see the cobblestone streets" look. Not sure what I'm talking about? Pop back two posts and peruse my (sob) pizza pictures. Especially the mushrooms in the saute pan. What? You can't see half the mushrooms? I know. I know!
  • If you are taking a series of photographs, maintain a consistent composition for the entire series. Plate in the middle, glass on the right? Always keep that plate in the middle and the glass on the right. Because if that glass moves, your pretty pictures stop being a "gorgeous food on a plate" series and starts being "the incredibly, magical, moving glass" series. And that's not what you want. Unless it is. But then your name had better start with The Great ...
  • Skip the flash, maybe. I don't really know enough about the flash to truly advise you (My camera has 18 different symbols that indicate when the flash is used, how, to what extent, and so on. This would be helpful if I had any idea what a single one of those Martian symbols meant. Sadly, I do not.), but my initial thought is that is washes out your subject. This works nicely if, for example, you are taking a picture of an aging celebrity (the wash effect was invented for aging celebrities). But this does not work well for food where you want the visceral texture and clear detail you get from good contrast.
  • Do something about the background clutter. As in, eliminate it. For now, I am just throwing a tea towel over it. But, surely, there is a more elegant solution. Not as cost-effective, mind you, but more elegant.
  • It would be nice if you could set up a staging area. This would help with the background clutter problem, but, even better, it would help you control your lighting (Half the pictures I took last week, I had my husband leaning over my shoulder, muttering "You're in your light. You're in your own light!" as I cast odd shadows across the food.) If you can find a clutter-free spot in your kitchen, let me know. I, quite frankly, don't have enough places for clutter in mine.
  • Minimize spacing problems in layout. I like left alignment; it is fast and clean. And I am fairly sure centered text and visuals belong only in wedding invitations. So, sticking to my guns, I left aligned those pizza pictures (see earlier post) and spent a silly amount of time adjusting spacing. And never got it right (damn you, html). So, for this post, I tried centering. And look how much cleaner it is! And at a fraction of the time. Who'd a guessed?
And, thanks to the assistance of the incredibly clever Ms S Barnes, click here to see the original applesauce recipe.

I also haven't tried screwing around with Photoshop (cough, sniff, using Picture Manager, cough, embarrassed), yet. I am told I can do wonderful things. But, years ago, I tried to learn Quark. I did learn it well enough that I could use it, with pretty good results (thanks to the heroic efforts of a brilliant designer friend - thanks Robert - who would very patiently answer the most absurd questions), but it was such a horrifying experience that I am hesitant to learn any other design application. Maybe I could tempt a nice geek to teach me. Think they like applesauce?