Shooting food/dishes, ambience of restaurants


May 29, 2012
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Singapore
#1
Hi all!

Junior here is going to shoot for a friend. In regards to the subject stated. I'm new to photography and I hope I could get a few pointers from the seniors here! Such as tricks and things to take note.

I'm will be using my only Canon600D with its kit lense, 18mm-55mm. I also do have a Yongnuo YN468 zoom 24-88mm flash. I wonder if these are proper gears to take such photography? I have a tripod too.

It should be taken under low light and indoors. Will have to capture the ambience of the restaurants and their dishes. What are the things to take note of and are there any tips to make my shoot a successful one? Thank you in advance for your honest opinion and valuable tips!! :D
 

SkyStrike

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Nov 29, 2010
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#4
I wouldn't advice using flash for the food dishes in the restaurants. Using a LED light will be easier. If needed, put some serviette around it to "reflect" the LED light to brighten up the shadowed areas.
 

nedy77

New Member
Jun 21, 2005
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#5
Watch out for your white balance setting, you'll want to keep the colors of the food as natural as possible
 

dennisc

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Oct 24, 2002
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#6
Some suggested LED lights, well depends on your style. I happened to test out my $30 LED at 12midnight in my garden yesterday, total darkness, only just imagine the flower+ants are food hmm.. LED might do...
 

May 29, 2012
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0
0
38
Singapore
#7
dennisc said:
Yep kit lens would do just fine, just watch the settings, what mode would you be shooting at?
I'll be using manual I suppose. Or r we able to actually bypass easier using other modes? Thanks for your quick response. :)
 

May 29, 2012
20
0
0
38
Singapore
#8
dennisc said:
Some suggested LED lights, well depends on your style. I happened to test out my $30 LED at 12midnight in my garden yesterday, total darkness, only just imagine the flower+ants are food hmm.. LED might do...
Can I check the exact LED light ur r using? Or do u suggest any specific type to use for my case and also future usage? Thanks for your advice!!
 

SkyStrike

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#9
There are many sizes for LED lights. Some is as small as iPhone (or smaller), some larger than your DSLR. So it depends on how you are going to use it and whether it's feasible to bring it out.
 

May 29, 2012
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38
Singapore
#10
SkyStrike said:
There are many sizes for LED lights. Some is as small as iPhone (or smaller), some larger than your DSLR. So it depends on how you are going to use it and whether it's feasible to bring it out.
Thanks Sky! I'll should go get 1 really soon and play ard with it before the real shoot! :D
 

foxtwo

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Mar 11, 2004
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#11
I have not used LED lights for shoots before, so just to clarify with those who have, is it a problem trying to balance 2 continuous light sources to achieve 'proper' exposure on subject and ambiance, without too much trouble for TS?

Though some questions remain for TS, like just how brightly lit or dim is the restaurant, styling of food, overall art direction, space constraints, time afforded, etc. You really need to have an firm idea on how you plan to shoot, then prepare equipment accordingly. Only if you don't know what to expect then you bring everything, so if plan A doesn't work you still have B, C or D.

I think using flash is still better, at most spend a bit of money (charge your friend) and get a china brand speed light soft box + stand. Shooting food has its challenges, enough that you wouldn't want to spend time divided between styling with balancing continuous light exposures. You set your flash 1 time then for each dish just tweak it slightly in terms of power & placement, no need to calculate how long you need to expose for subject to balance with ambiance, then guesstimate how much closer you need to place the light to increase power etc etc.

To think further, look at the quality of light. Does food look better in soft or harsh lighting? What is the message you want to bring across with the photos? What does your LED or flash need to modify light? Which customisation is easier or more reliable or less costly?

Though I advocate flash, you can create "soft" light from LED torches. And if you find the latter suits better then whatever gets the job done is fine.

For the overall project, how do you keep within budget (if you're not getting paid for effort at least try not to make a loss in materials/equipment spent), finish in a timely manner (if you not paiseh to spend 1 whole day there), whilst producing a standard good enough for the menu and your portfolio.

ps, if you're not shooting tethered to a laptop then it might be rather hard to see/guess the image from the camera screen. Those of us experienced might be able to differentiate between good<->usable<->no good exposures, coupled with using LED or rather depending on 2 continuous light sources, for TS to judge might be difficult. It is never good to tell client you need to reshoot.
 

Last edited:
May 29, 2012
20
0
0
38
Singapore
#12
foxtwo said:
I have not used LED lights for shoots before, so just to clarify with those who have, is it a problem trying to balance 2 continuous light sources to achieve 'proper' exposure on subject and ambiance, without too much trouble for TS?

Though some questions remain for TS, like just how brightly lit or dim is the restaurant, styling of food, overall art direction, space constraints, time afforded, etc. You really need to have an firm idea on how you plan to shoot, then prepare equipment accordingly. Only if you don't know what to expect then you bring everything, so if plan A doesn't work you still have B, C or D.

I think using flash is still better, at most spend a bit of money (charge your friend) and get a china brand speed light soft box + stand. Shooting food has its challenges, enough that you wouldn't want to spend time divided between styling with balancing continuous light exposures. You set your flash 1 time then for each dish just tweak it slightly in terms of power & placement, no need to calculate how long you need to expose for subject to balance with ambiance, then guesstimate how much closer you need to place the light to increase power etc etc.

To think further, look at the quality of light. Does food look better in soft or harsh lighting? What is the message you want to bring across with the photos? What does your LED or flash need to modify light? Which customisation is easier or more reliable or less costly?

Though I advocate flash, you can create "soft" light from LED torches. And if you find the latter suits better then whatever gets the job done is fine.

For the overall project, how do you keep within budget (if you're not getting paid for effort at least try not to make a loss in materials/equipment spent), finish in a timely manner (if you not paiseh to spend 1 whole day there), whilst producing a standard good enough for the menu and your portfolio.

ps, if you're not shooting tethered to a laptop then it might be rather hard to see/guess the image from the camera screen. Those of us experienced might be able to differentiate between good<->usable<->no good exposures, coupled with using LED or rather depending on 2 continuous light sources, for TS to judge might be difficult. It is never good to tell client you need to reshoot.
Heya Fox! Thanks for your honest opinion! Being a real beginner, I'm thankful for such channels tat I could extend my queries and to receive such valuable tips without yrs of shooting experience. I will certainly take note of those u had mentioned. Thanks!! I would had really gone without really proper planning otherwise!! :)
 

Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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Pasir Ris
#13
Start exercising at home. The light there should be as bad and dim as in most restaurants. But at least it won't take up other people's time.
 

photoart

Senior Member
Feb 21, 2009
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#14
I'm will be using my only Canon600D with its kit lense, 18mm-55mm. I also do have a Yongnuo YN468 zoom 24-88mm flash. I wonder if these are proper gears to take such photography? I have a tripod too.
for the food itself, you can bring some backdrops,depending on the kind of mood/concept you want to portray.
you can use these examples as a reference:
Food samples

the backdrop could be simple everyday items like majong paper(for all white background) or those colorful art paper you can get from bookshops
 

foxtwo

Senior Member
Mar 11, 2004
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#15
Heya Fox! Thanks for your honest opinion! Being a real beginner, I'm thankful for such channels tat I could extend my queries and to receive such valuable tips without yrs of shooting experience. I will certainly take note of those u had mentioned. Thanks!! I would had really gone without really proper planning otherwise!! :)
No problem, happy to help out. :)

There are things we can prepare for, like equipment & art direction. Discuss art direction first, if your friend has prior photos taken or has an idea of how to be then take direction from him. Otherwise you 2 need to sit down and discuss how to make it work for him & simple for you. Do this asap to ascertain if it's doable and at what cost (money/time). Best to have the discussion at the restaurant, so you can plan/test shoot for shooting angle/background, working space, and variety of food. You also need to be aware how a different method may give a different result, for example, if using a LED torch will result in a more 'light painting' photograph. Whether this is in line with the art direction agreed upon earlier, or something the client is acceptable to. You can do a mockup/test shoot for the first meeting.

You also need to plan the order of appearance, to make things easier for you and not necessarily the chef. For example, all small dish -> all big dish or all dry dish-> all soup dish or by colour. Essentially you want to shoot in 'similar groups' as much as possible, and not having to change your setup too often because it wastes time. Remember the chef is preparing the next dish, so you don't have a lot of time to experiment if it cannot be shot 'cold'. You need to know roughly how long you take to shoot each dish, so you can order the chef how constant they arrive. Don't you wait for me, I wait for you. Maybe at the moment you might feel it's all the same, this is something you'll understand through the shooting process and when you're looking at a higher (more complex) quality of photography.

Once you know what's in front of you, you can work on eqpt. Normally as commercial photographers we feel safer to bring a little more than what's required (if possible), because it gives the ability to change on the fly. Since you only have a limited equipment set, and not a professional, it's advisable to work with what you already have and what you're comfortable using. For every job, we try to keep it simple and manageable. But the most important tool is your brain/your smarts. With limited resources, how do you expand your capability to shoot? As a hint, start gathering bounce cards, small mirrors, cleaning cloths, tweezers, toothpicks, etc. Never expect the restaurant to provide all these small items for you, better to bring your own supply. If you lose in lighting eqpt, make up for it in other areas.

What you cannot plan for is the quality & standard of food and amount of styling afforded by the chef. If the chef is in a hurry or tired or in a poor mood, the quality of dishes also suffer. This is something you need to take note and perhaps remedy to a certain degree. What you waste, is time.

I am taking the safer approach or rather something I would choose to do. Unless the project really calls for it or if the opportunity presents itself, I wouldn't change my shooting style. In the end you may be a natural or can grow to be a very good 'LED food photographer', this is something you may want to investigate and perhaps even take on for the stated project.

All directions are available, all the best!
 

blueskye168

Senior Member
Aug 28, 2006
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#16
I have not used LED lights for shoots before, so just to clarify with those who have, is it a problem trying to balance 2 continuous light sources to achieve 'proper' exposure on subject and ambiance, without too much trouble for TS?

Though some questions remain for TS, like just how brightly lit or dim is the restaurant, styling of food, overall art direction, space constraints, time afforded, etc. You really need to have an firm idea on how you plan to shoot, then prepare equipment accordingly. Only if you don't know what to expect then you bring everything, so if plan A doesn't work you still have B, C or D.

I think using flash is still better, at most spend a bit of money (charge your friend) and get a china brand speed light soft box + stand. Shooting food has its challenges, enough that you wouldn't want to spend time divided between styling with balancing continuous light exposures. You set your flash 1 time then for each dish just tweak it slightly in terms of power & placement, no need to calculate how long you need to expose for subject to balance with ambiance, then guesstimate how much closer you need to place the light to increase power etc etc.

To think further, look at the quality of light. Does food look better in soft or harsh lighting? What is the message you want to bring across with the photos? What does your LED or flash need to modify light? Which customisation is easier or more reliable or less costly?

Though I advocate flash, you can create "soft" light from LED torches. And if you find the latter suits better then whatever gets the job done is fine.

For the overall project, how do you keep within budget (if you're not getting paid for effort at least try not to make a loss in materials/equipment spent), finish in a timely manner (if you not paiseh to spend 1 whole day there), whilst producing a standard good enough for the menu and your portfolio.

ps, if you're not shooting tethered to a laptop then it might be rather hard to see/guess the image from the camera screen. Those of us experienced might be able to differentiate between good<->usable<->no good exposures, coupled with using LED or rather depending on 2 continuous light sources, for TS to judge might be difficult. It is never good to tell client you need to reshoot.
Agreed with/on..."It is never:nono:good to tell client you need to re-shoot OR worst vice:bsmilie:versus=your client want you to re-shoot...!!!"

TS, the use of flash/strobe definitely will give much much much better Quality lights and controlling the :light:Intensity of Quality-lights. Furthermore, with the aid of an appropriate lights-modifiers and 'the-know-how-to-use/positioning it' will yield some extra miles of much much better :thumbsup:Quality-Final touch to one's image/s...;)


**Do note and/or even clarify clearly on what your client's preference/theme in mind of this particular shoot is for ok!!!!! (...and not based just solely on your own style/theme that may or may not, ended up with re-shoot in the end of the session...pls bear these VIP-points...yah...bro...!!!
 

Last edited:
May 29, 2012
20
0
0
38
Singapore
#17
blueskye168 said:
Agreed with/on..."It is never:nono:good to tell client you need to re-shoot OR worst vice:bsmilie:versus=your client want you to re-shoot...!!!"

TS, the use of flash/strobe definitely will give much much much better Quality lights and controlling the :light:Intensity of Quality-lights. Furthermore, with the aid of an appropriate lights-modifiers and 'the-know-how-to-use/positioning it' will yield some extra miles of much much better :thumbsup:Quality-Final touch to one's image/s...;)

**Do note and/or even clarify clearly on what your client's preference/theme in mind of this particular shoot is for ok!!!!! (...and not based just solely on your own style/theme that may or may not, ended up with re-shoot in the end of the session...pls bear these VIP-points...yah...bro...!!!
Yes! Thanks for the pointers!! I'd really tot on using my own preferences. But I guess in e end we still want client to be satisfied over our own yeh? Been testing out with all e stills I could find to find out the capability of my flash since. Hope I could close e case with a happy client! Wish me luck!!
 

blueskye168

Senior Member
Aug 28, 2006
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#18
Yes! Thanks for the pointers!! I'd really tot on using my own preferences. But I guess in e end we still want client to be satisfied over our own yeh? Been testing out with all e stills I could find to find out the capability of my flash since. Hope I could close e case with a happy client! Wish me luck!!
Well, you're most Welcome and it's my pleasure, bro...(...the pointers...!!);)


Well, if you are able to present/brief your client with own preferences/themes and they like it, then by all means, you shall proceed with yours, but, like I'd mentioned earlier, always :light:double-confirm/discuss with your clients before carrying out the 'actual-shoots'...will save you &/or both parties "disputes" should there be any...see that...bear in mind...yah, bro!!;)

Btw, Best of Luck to all your future undertakings...;)...let's:cheers:man!!!!!
 

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