Art and Photography

camera for food photography

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 10th, 2017 9:09 pm
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Jun 15, 2012
9980 posts
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Southern Ontario
toshibaaa wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2017 3:21 am

what do you guys recommend for a white box because my website background is going to be white so I just want the cookies look like they part of the site
A pro does this fast and knows his/her way around Photoshop.
How to clean up the background:



How to make it pure white:



HOWEVER, if you want to avoid a lot of editing, I suggest you don't buy any pre-made box that will be full of imperfections, wrinkles/creases, and could be any sort of material.
Buy real seamless photography paper, it is made with the right matte and reflective properties. Because cookies are small, you don't even need a stand, just cut a small piece what you need, duct tape it up against something and roll it down towards you.

https://www.henrys.com/72954-SAVAGE-53I ... WHITE.aspx

Notice here, he's not using a fancy camera or materials. He's got foamboard on his table, and instead of a box, he's working in a white room, and he's got a form of white seamless as his backdrop.
As I mentioned, it's mainly technique, importantly lighting and editing.

https://www.currys.com/catalogpc.htm?Ca ... rce=Search



When you use artificial lighting like above, you need to correct white balance eg; turn warm yellow light to whiter, see 4:50 mark. It's more work, you have to shoot in RAW and do additional editing because RAW files are dulled down but contain lots of info (adjust contrast, black level, colour saturation etc) it's fine for product photography but imho, it looks sterile if you are trying to sell delicious cookies.

When you use natural window light like Steve Hansen, you less likely need to correct white balance, and the images look more organic and inviting. You can easily shoot in jpg, good for a beginner, and do even less editing.
When you are that close doing photography, you should wear black. Everything reflects, if you wore a bright red shirt, it would reflect and cast redness forward if you are close enough to the food.

White reflects light, black absorbs it. Notice here Andrew Scrivani is using window light (organic), absorbing the light with black on the right. and dressed in all black.
The best window light is a cloudy day or put a piece of white sheer in front of it, no direct sunlight.



https://www.creativelive.com/class/food ... w-scrivani

ReStore (Habitat for humanity) sells leftover boxes of hardwood, I use them as backdrops for newborn photography, you can easily click together, same as what he's using underneath the cutting board. It's a good place to buy props and background material.
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toshibaaa wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2017 3:21 am
I agree with your points and I think it a bit overkill to start with considering it just some pictures for the website and pictures for instagram
I was only talking about Instagram. It's a platform that has all kind of quality of pictures where contents is above > quality. For website, don't put amateurish pictures... and if you want white background and all, it seems easy, but it's the hardest to make it clean and pop out.

Check this Website, a specialized doughnut shop in Montréal. http://www.troudebeigne.com/doughnuts
Look at the first picture with the blueberry and dark chocolate (miam). It is a simple picture taking with a wide aperture. The lighting is natural and come from a window, the arrangement is super basic and it looks good and yummy. That's what anyone who are looking for doughnuts will think. After that, us photographers will think about how the picture is lacking refinement like the tiny dust particle that needs to be removed, the chromatic aberration that's still there, some of the blueberries don't look fresh, the doughnut is to close to the bottom, feels like a mistake more than intentional, the brown spot on the top left grabs too much attention after the initial glance, etc. BUT all that, your customers won't care as it is still an pretty picture in general.
There are also 2 pictures, one with almonds and another with waffles, they are clearly taking with a smartphone in their store where you see 2 kind of lights with 2 different white balances. It's not good pictures technically, but it is 2 pretty pictures as in it looks tasty. Imagine those 2 same doughnuts on a white background, with the same smartphone and lighting. It'll look awful!
Btw, I'm just referring the website for the pictures. I won't mention a thing about the design.

Also, the blueberry shot can be achieved by a Nikon D3400 + a 35 or 50mm F1.8 lens. Don't spend more than that. If I give you a Nikon D850 and a Zeiss Otus lens combo, the result will be the same except for the chromatic aberration. The dust won't magically disappear. A good camera will only give a cleaner image. Lighting, food arrangement and all that is from you.

BoatyMcBoatface wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2017 6:46 am
Anyway, apologies if this sounded like a sales pitch, it really wasn't!
Not at all buddy! You sounded knowledgeable and helpful to OP :)
I think with AncasterRFD and your posts, there is so much great informations for OP to make a sound decision.
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2013
274 posts
13 upvotes
Oakville
BoatyMcBoatface wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2017 6:46 am
No offense taken at all !

I'm not fishing for businesses, just trying to put the thought in the OP's head (as you mentioned) that his core competency is making cookies. Sometimes it's easier and cheaper in the long run to farm out some aspects of your startup. We work with smaller GTA companies a lot and understand their budget issues. However, they shouldn't approach the food photography with the attitude that they can get better as they go along. That's not how companies are built. You might get away with amateur images on instagram, but your website should absolutely be the best you can make it if you're selling something that people are going to have to make decisions based on appearance before they can taste it.

Cookies need some love before you shoot them. Last year we were approached by a cookie company who wanted to rebrand and change their online images. The existing ones were quite f'ugly but they didn't want to spend the money and that's fair enough but we did a quick and dirty comparison for them which i'll share here to illustrate a point. They also wanted a simple white on white image

The first image was shot by a professional photographer who shoots people not food, we gave him no guidance other than just 'style' them and make them look good.
Cookies-Photographer.jpg
We then had a food stylist give them some love and reshot it.
Cookies-Stylist.jpg
She took care of all the things people don't tend to think about....making the box look fuller, cleaning up crumbs, scraping the choc chips clean etc etc. All the things you should think about if you do it yourself.

Anyway we're digressing from his original question. As others have mentioned, don't spend a fortune on a camera, that isn't what is going to make your images stand out. You might even consider renting one for the day from the numerous equipment rental places around town.
Also consider getting a monitor to tether your camera to. It's a lot easier to make an adjustment to a cookie when you can view the image on a 20" screen rather than 2".
You might want to get a sheet of flexible laminate (Arborite is a good product) so that you can make a seamless cove to shoot on but it is easy to break down and store.
If you are going to shoot on white to match your background, you really need to nail your lighting technique down otherwise you'll end up cropping the cookies to eliminate a halo around them where the whites don't match. That will make your images appear to float on the site which is not a great look.

Anyway, apologies if this sounded like a sales pitch, it really wasn't!
nah nah I didn't think as a sale pitch at all as well

I'm just curious ... How much does it cost typically to get a pro to take the photos?

I used to take a picture similar to that cookie layout except not with a white background... I had a bunch of shortbread cookies and chocolate chips in white box lined up like that and turning the cookies to the best side and hide crummy sides behind the cookie in front of them and took a brush to clean up the crumbs.... took picture close up with my note 4 from diagonally to get the depth field of cookies... it not bad at all, it just not dslr quality

nice tips... didn't think of a hooking up a monitor to the camera, that would make things easier to see
AncasterRFD wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2017 9:00 am
A pro does this fast and knows his/her way around Photoshop.
How to clean up the background:



How to make it pure white:



HOWEVER, if you want to avoid a lot of editing, I suggest you don't buy any pre-made box that will be full of imperfections, wrinkles/creases, and could be any sort of material.
Buy real seamless photography paper, it is made with the right matte and reflective properties. Because cookies are small, you don't even need a stand, just cut a small piece what you need, duct tape it up against something and roll it down towards you.

https://www.henrys.com/72954-SAVAGE-53I ... WHITE.aspx

Notice here, he's not using a fancy camera or materials. He's got foamboard on his table, and instead of a box, he's working in a white room, and he's got a form of white seamless as his backdrop.
As I mentioned, it's mainly technique, importantly lighting and editing.

https://www.currys.com/catalogpc.htm?Ca ... rce=Search



When you use artificial lighting like above, you need to correct white balance eg; turn warm yellow light to whiter, see 4:50 mark. It's more work, you have to shoot in RAW and do additional editing because RAW files are dulled down but contain lots of info (adjust contrast, black level, colour saturation etc) it's fine for product photography but imho, it looks sterile if you are trying to sell delicious cookies.

When you use natural window light like Steve Hansen, you less likely need to correct white balance, and the images look more organic and inviting. You can easily shoot in jpg, good for a beginner, and do even less editing.
When you are that close doing photography, you should wear black. Everything reflects, if you wore a bright red shirt, it would reflect and cast redness forward if you are close enough to the food.

White reflects light, black absorbs it. Notice here Andrew Scrivani is using window light (organic), absorbing the light with black on the right. and dressed in all black.
The best window light is a cloudy day or put a piece of white sheer in front of it, no direct sunlight.



https://www.creativelive.com/class/food ... w-scrivani

ReStore (Habitat for humanity) sells leftover boxes of hardwood, I use them as backdrops for newborn photography, you can easily click together, same as what he's using underneath the cutting board. It's a good place to buy props and background material.
pretty decent prices for photography paper and foam board to create that ambient ... I thought a lot worse price tag lol ... I thought I had to get like legit big box, umbrella lights etc

was surprised with that video and the simple setup with a piece of paper and a couple cheap lights but of course it require more work on photoshop/editing

definitely make sense with wearing black... good to know

oh didn't think of habitat for humanity for props stuff ... there is one probably 20 mins away... will check it out some day

Gin Martini wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2017 10:03 am
I was only talking about Instagram. It's a platform that has all kind of quality of pictures where contents is above > quality. For website, don't put amateurish pictures... and if you want white background and all, it seems easy, but it's the hardest to make it clean and pop out.

Check this Website, a specialized doughnut shop in Montréal. http://www.troudebeigne.com/doughnuts
Look at the first picture with the blueberry and dark chocolate (miam). It is a simple picture taking with a wide aperture. The lighting is natural and come from a window, the arrangement is super basic and it looks good and yummy. That's what anyone who are looking for doughnuts will think. After that, us photographers will think about how the picture is lacking refinement like the tiny dust particle that needs to be removed, the chromatic aberration that's still there, some of the blueberries don't look fresh, the doughnut is to close to the bottom, feels like a mistake more than intentional, the brown spot on the top left grabs too much attention after the initial glance, etc. BUT all that, your customers won't care as it is still an pretty picture in general.
There are also 2 pictures, one with almonds and another with waffles, they are clearly taking with a smartphone in their store where you see 2 kind of lights with 2 different white balances. It's not good pictures technically, but it is 2 pretty pictures as in it looks tasty. Imagine those 2 same doughnuts on a white background, with the same smartphone and lighting. It'll look awful!
Btw, I'm just referring the website for the pictures. I won't mention a thing about the design.

Also, the blueberry shot can be achieved by a Nikon D3400 + a 35 or 50mm F1.8 lens. Don't spend more than that. If I give you a Nikon D850 and a Zeiss Otus lens combo, the result will be the same except for the chromatic aberration. The dust won't magically disappear. A good camera will only give a cleaner image. Lighting, food arrangement and all that is from you.

Not at all buddy! You sounded knowledgeable and helpful to OP :)
I think with AncasterRFD and your posts, there is so much great informations for OP to make a sound decision.
doing white background look like more complex than I expected

I just saw one of my fav pastry shop called craftsman and wolves... contemporary design site and pictures http://www.craftsman-wolves.com/

I have no problem not doing white background because I was thinking of putting a picture for each shortbread flavour... but when I thought about CAW that they change their menu often and just do a photo gallery to just show a few things to offer to get an idea of what they are all about and they look more inviting, cozy and not so sterile

I will be changing flavours often as well... right now I'm doing vanilla bean, chocolate chips, chai tea and this month only will be gingerbread. it possible that in january I will probably change two flavours like lemon poppy seed... customers will already know what my shortbread cookies typically look like, just in different flavours... I don't necessarily have to do a white background picture or a picture for every flavour

some picture ideas for current flavour

vanilla bean - use real vanilla pods, stand up in a glass or lean on a stack of cookies or split it open and scrap out the beans to showcase it or a cup of coffee or latte

chocolate chips - get a solid block of chocolate and shave it off and position next to the cookies with the block in the background/behind or do a tall glass of milk like most people know traditional chocolate chips and milk and maybe take a bite like it been dunked in the milk

chai tea - a cup of tea next to cookies or sprinkle loose chai tea onto the cookies doing a midair shot of the tea falling down

gingerbread - xmas decor or colour theme for example
Deal Addict
Dec 31, 2007
3853 posts
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Richmond Hill
Not related to OP's cookie question, but same genre.

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Jun 15, 2012
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Southern Ontario
toshibaaa wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2017 3:43 pm
doing white background look like more complex than I expected

I just saw one of my fav pastry shop called craftsman and wolves... contemporary design site and pictures http://www.craftsman-wolves.com/

I have no problem not doing white background...
That's a nice site, layout wise, you can build something yourself like that easily with WIX: https://www.wix.com/website/templates/h ... nts-food/1

However, their photography isn't consistent, the lighting isn't always good, and they applied a crushed black film look in most of their small squares but not in the motorcycle pics in the big panels. imho, a site looks more professional when the image style is consistent.

White backgrounds aren't hard, just use window light and reflectors made of foamboard I linked earlier. By looking at the bright spots on the left side, you can tell the light here is coming down from the top left about 7 o'clock. I then applied the film look to it that you like.

Image Image

Window light is beautiful whether food or portraits, and is basically a giant soft box. Reflect it with white walls, reflectors, etc (arrows).

Image

1. Use nice window light like the pros (Hansen, Scrivani).
2. As a beginner, shoot in jpg so the camera does the processing.
3. Get those right before applying any artsy edits like a film look (optional, some people like the first cookie pic because it's more realistic).

This is purely for educational and demo purposes, I am not for hire lol
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2013
274 posts
13 upvotes
Oakville
AncasterRFD wrote:
Dec 3rd, 2017 11:06 am
That's a nice site, layout wise, you can build something yourself like that easily with WIX: https://www.wix.com/website/templates/h ... nts-food/1

However, their photography isn't consistent, the lighting isn't always good, and they applied a crushed black film look in most of their small squares but not in the motorcycle pics in the big panels. imho, a site looks more professional when the image style is consistent.

White backgrounds aren't hard, just use window light and reflectors made of foamboard I linked earlier. By looking at the bright spots on the left side, you can tell the light here is coming down from the top left about 7 o'clock. I then applied the film look to it that you like.

Image Image

Window light is beautiful whether food or portraits, and is basically a giant soft box. Reflect it with white walls, reflectors, etc (arrows).

Image

1. Use nice window light like the pros (Hansen, Scrivani).
2. As a beginner, shoot in jpg so the camera does the processing.
3. Get those right before applying any artsy edits like a film look (optional, some people like the first cookie pic because it's more realistic).

This is purely for educational and demo purposes, I am not for hire lol
I see where you are coming from regarding to the site and it's pros and cons ... I am actually using wix to build my site lol

The cookies look good and realistic lol ... make me want to see it :)

Luckily my living room got white walls so I will do it there in prime time of nice window light. So you recommend for sure to just get a d3400 plus prime len 35mm ... dont get the len kit ... just body and prime len?
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That'll work, D3400 + prime lens 35mm f/1.8, or 50mm f/1.8.

Take notice in these food photos what is in focus and what is not. That is where the focus point is and it's likely shot at a big aperture (f/1.8-2.8). The kit lens set at 35mm will not let you go that big, that is why you use a prime.

https://photographylife.com/best-nikon- ... hotography

Use this calculator, enter the closest cousin Nikon D3200, enter 35mm and f/1.8, subject distance at 5ft. From there, only change the "Selected f-stop" and watch the "Total depth of field" change, ie; what is in focus.
Using a big aperture and putting the focus point on the cookies, everything behind and in front will be out of focus like soft fudge cookies above.

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2013
274 posts
13 upvotes
Oakville
AncasterRFD wrote:
Dec 7th, 2017 6:42 pm
That'll work, D3400 + prime lens 35mm f/1.8, or 50mm f/1.8.

Take notice in these food photos what is in focus and what is not. That is where the focus point is and it's likely shot at a big aperture (f/1.8-2.8). The kit lens set at 35mm will not let you go that big, that is why you use a prime.

https://photographylife.com/best-nikon- ... hotography

Use this calculator, enter the closest cousin Nikon D3200, enter 35mm and f/1.8, subject distance at 5ft. From there, only change the "Selected f-stop" and watch the "Total depth of field" change, ie; what is in focus.
Using a big aperture and putting the focus point on the cookies, everything behind and in front will be out of focus like soft fudge cookies above.

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
is it worth buying the len kit and sell the kit lenses to reduce the price of the camera which actually make the camera body cheaper comparing to just buying the body straight up? or are these kit lenses hard to sell to someone?

that an awesome site with the calculator ... thanks for the link
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Dec 10, 2004
11515 posts
1130 upvotes
Kanata
For cookies, you don't need massive backgrounds. Some foam boards from Dollarama, some poster sheets (they have different colours) will work. You can use the poster sheets as your backgrounds, and the foam boards as reflectors. Or cut them up (think picture frame style) and get some tissue paper for some diffuser lighting. All done very cheaply.

If you want to get into something a bit different, you could either think about getting either vinyl planks and gluing them to foam boards for a different look, or just getting some old wood, staining/painting it, and then making it look weathered for another kind of look.

Since all of the above is pretty portable, you can take advantage of window light. Set up a small space near a window, and then you'll learn to get a grasp on window lighting. Free, you can't beat that price.
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Jun 15, 2012
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For reference, leftover single boxes of hardwood at Re-Store are around $10-20, might save making anything from scratch.
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toshibaaa wrote:
Dec 9th, 2017 3:00 am
is it worth buying the len kit and sell the kit lenses to reduce the price of the camera which actually make the camera body cheaper comparing to just buying the body straight up? or are these kit lenses hard to sell to someone?

that an awesome site with the calculator ... thanks for the link
Probably cheapest to buy a 3400 body or maybe even better on kijiji. People upgrade, move to mirrorless or give up the hobby all the time.
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2013
274 posts
13 upvotes
Oakville
goofball wrote:
Dec 9th, 2017 7:44 am
For cookies, you don't need massive backgrounds. Some foam boards from Dollarama, some poster sheets (they have different colours) will work. You can use the poster sheets as your backgrounds, and the foam boards as reflectors. Or cut them up (think picture frame style) and get some tissue paper for some diffuser lighting. All done very cheaply.

If you want to get into something a bit different, you could either think about getting either vinyl planks and gluing them to foam boards for a different look, or just getting some old wood, staining/painting it, and then making it look weathered for another kind of look.

Since all of the above is pretty portable, you can take advantage of window light. Set up a small space near a window, and then you'll learn to get a grasp on window lighting. Free, you can't beat that price.
AncasterRFD wrote:
Dec 9th, 2017 10:57 am
For reference, leftover single boxes of hardwood at Re-Store are around $10-20, might save making anything from scratch.
love the ideas ... can't beat the prices as well :)
AncasterRFD wrote:
Dec 9th, 2017 11:01 am
Probably cheapest to buy a 3400 body or maybe even better on kijiji. People upgrade, move to mirrorless or give up the hobby all the time.
will check out kijiji

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