Thursday, 27 of November of 2014

6 Food Photography Tips

6 Food Photography Tips

With fall in full swing, Thanksgiving coming up, and Christmas just around the corner, the days are shorter and the temperatures are colder. That means that most of us are spending more time inside. It also means that several major cooking events are just over the horizon, making this a great time to brush up on your food photography skills. Food photography requires a lot of attention to detail and prep work, just like cooking does, so be sure to read this in full before you start setting up for your shots.

1) Preparation, preparation, preparation — One thing that cannot be emphasized enough is that you must take proper preparation if you want your food photography to come out looking good enough to eat. After selecting the dish you want to capture, go out and purchase the freshest and best looking ingredients for its preparation. Clean any fruits and vegetables well, making certain that no dust, dirt, grime, or discolorations show. Pick up some extra clear vegetable oil as well — it might come in handy later.

Back at home, decide where you’re going to be doing the photography and set up appropriate lighting rigs and gear. Polish any tables, thoroughly clean any plates, bowls, or silverware, and make certain that any placemats or decorations are clean and well-presented.

2) Think about colors and contrasts — Pick out dishes that will work well with the setting. If you’re using a dark-colored table, consider using white dishes in order to bring out the contrast. If your table is clear glass, use dark colored dishes.

3) Photograph each stage — Some of the best photos might come from the prep work for the meal or even while it’s cooking. Keep your camera handy and keep a dishcloth nearby to wipe up spills and splatters.

4) Keep some extra raw ingredients to the side — Cooked vegetables, especially if they’ve been boiled, lose a lot of the qualities that make them photogenic. Keep some raw ones to the side to use as decoration either in or next to the dish.

5) For salads or vegetable dishes, use oil — You can make your vegetables glisten and shine with a light application of oil. The skin of most foods is not very reflective; vegetable oil lightly brushed onto them can change that, making for some mouth-watering photos.

6) Be ready to get upset for meat dishes — Photographing meat dishes like roast beef, steaks, hamburgers, fish, pork, and more can be very frustrating as meat is not very photogenic before it is cooked or after. It not only takes an artist’s eye to arrange a meat platter in a pleasing manner, it requires patience and practice to set up the lighting and deal with meat’s natural textures, oils, and fatty portions in a photography setting.

Photographing food can be very rewarding but it requires a lot of preparation and set up in order for it to come out well. Follow the tips above and you can get the most from your meals, not only in nutrients, but in photographs, too.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

This spooky Friday brings an end to another week in the world of photography. This week has been a fun and eventful one with photographers capturing the Halloween spirit and getting images of kids, houses, and even their own gear decked out for the holiday. Last week had a solar eclipse and this week saw a lot of the photos and videos taken of the event put up on the Internet. And, in related space news, the Antares rocket exploded on launch earlier this week, giving photographers and scientists more images to study to perfect their rocket science.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below.


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a happy Halloween and a fun weekend!

— da Bird


Profile in Photography: Alex Noriega

Profile in Photography: Alex Noriega

This week’s Profile in Photography focuses on Alex Noriega, a gifted American landscape photographer. Though he has not been practicing photography for as long as many other well-known landscape photographers, he is quite skilled and uses color and lighting well to create almost otherworldly scenes and vistas with his camera and the lightest of photo-editing. His portfolio includes architectural photography as well and he has created many great masterpieces using both natural and man-made landscapes.

Noriega’s career is just getting started but, based on talent alone, he’s going to be one to keep an eye on. The love of nature that he shows in his photography puts me in mind of a young Ansel Addams. Here’s hoping that he’ll be as prolific and as enduring.

— da Bird


6 Tips for Traveling With Your Camera

6 Tips for Traveling With Your Camera

The holidays are quickly arriving and that means that everyone is making travel plans. With two major festivals to celebrate — Thanksgiving and Christmas — families who live on different sides of the country or even overseas are getting together. That makes this a great time for some portrait and candid photography. Smartphones can’t replace a camera as they lose battery power too quickly when snapping away and have issues with optical zoom. That means that anyone planning on traveling with their camera needs to make preparations to ensure that their camera arrives safely. To help with that, we have a few tips on packing for your trip below.

1) Get a good camera bag — Depending on the type of camera you have and any additional lenses or other gear you have, you may need a larger or smaller camera bag. Pick one that has padded compartments for each of your items. Don’t try to store lenses in the same compartment — that’s a good way to ruin them. The bag itself should also have good padding on the exterior and be fitted with fabric that can take a good bit of abuse.

2) Find all of your camera covers — If you have multiple lenses, make certain that any that are unattached to the camera have their covers on both ends and are stored snugly. The lens on your camera should be capped with a cover as well to prevent scratching.

3) Use bread-ties or zip-cords for cables — One of the biggest hassles in carrying baggage is the power cable knot. For reasons unbeknownst to any, cables have the power to tangle themselves up when packed away. You can prevent this by looping the cables carefully and securing them with bread-ties or zip-cords.

4) Consider making your camera a carry-on — If you’re flying, you may want to take your camera bag with you as one of your carry-on items. However, don’t try to take photos in the secure areas of the airport or in any place where photography is forbidden.

5) Get insurance — If you have a high-end camera and a lot of gear to go with it, ensure it against damage, loss, or theft. That way, if it gets lost in the luggage or broken in transit, you can get new gear without losing your shirt.

6) Beware of dust — Make certain that you have a lens on the camera while in transit. If dust gets inside the camera body, it can wreak havoc with the internal sensors. Also, carry several dust cloths with you to help keep your lenses and camera clean while you’re on holiday.

Traveling is always a bit of a hassle whether you’re flying, driving, taking a train, or backpacking. If you’re traveling with a camera, it can be even worse. But, if you follow our suggestions, both you and your camera can arrive at your destination ready to capture memories of this holiday season.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another fun and busy week in the world of photography. This week has seen photojournalists covering stories in China as the protests there continue and covering the big news on Ebola in the United States. Amateur and nature photographers have been out capturing the changing colors of autumn and everyone has been gearing up for Halloween with costumes, haunted houses, and fun home and garden decorations. Also, there was a partial solar eclipse yesterday visible to most of North America.

All of these stories and more were covered in our Twitter feed. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below!


That’s all for this week, folks. Have a great weekend and see you again next week!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Joe McNally

This week’s Profiles in Photography focuses on portrait photographer Joe McNally. McNally has been in the business for over thirty years and has worked for several high-profile publications such as Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Life, and National Geographic. His photos have graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Geo, Fortune, New York, Business Week, Life, and Men’s Journal. American Photo describes him as one of the most versatile photojournalists of the era. His work has won multiple awards.

Some of the gear that McNally is best known for using heavily is the Creative Lighting System and Speedlight. He is a master of photography lighting tricks, using them to make his photos stand out. He captures dynamism and action in his photos, making his portraits very vivid and memorable. To learn more about his photography gear and his bag of tricks, be sure to check out his website!


6 Tips for Outback Photography

6 Tips for Outback Photography

Though the days are growing shorter and the weather growing colder here in the Northern Hemisphere and many people are traveling to capture images of the fall foliage changing colors, things are exactly the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere and many there are getting ready to start their spring photography. Oddly enough, one of the favored places to head for photography in the southern half of the globe is the Australian Outback and, with spring blooming Down Under, this is a great time to travel down there and catch the changing of the seasons in the wilds! To help anyone who is interested in doing that, we have a few tips on how to really capture the spirit of the Australian Outback.

1) Book plenty of time in advance — The Outback is very, very large. Parts of it are also inaccessible. Make sure you map out the areas you want to visit ahead of time and know where you will not be able or allowed to go. Even with much of it being inaccessible, there is still plenty to photograph so plan your itinerary accordingly.

2) Don’t shoo people out of the way all the time — Some of the sites you’ll see in the Outback are mind-bogglingly ginormous. If there are people in the frame, even if they’re not the subject of the photo, they can help to provide a sense of scale and add a dimension of depth to the photo.

3) Speaking of depth… — One of the biggest problems in landscape photography is that a site will look wonderful to the Mark I Human Eyeball but when you take a photo of it, the photo will come out looking very flat. Don’t be afraid of letting some parts of your photo come out a little blurry to add layers and depth to the photo. Additionally, don’t always go for the straight-on shot. Try to find a different angle, some unique view, to take your photo from. Just don’t wander too far off the beaten path and don’t do anything that might shorten your lifespan!

4) Get to know the locals — For most of us, Australia is a far, distant land. Many of us might only make one trip there in our lives which is why we should book plenty of time for our trips. Additionally, there are many great sights to see that aren’t part of any official tour guide. Take the time to hang out at the local pubs and taverns and get to know some of the people from the area. They can always point you in the direction of some interesting sights!

5) Don’t be afraid to use some artificial light — Some of the trees and plants just off the side of the roadways in Australia are very different than anything you’ll see outside of Australia and, during your time there, you might start taking them as commonplace. Stop the car occasionally and get out and get some shots of these common but unique-to-Australia flora. Use a flashlight or bouncer to highlight particular details. Also, try to do some dawn photography — the way that the sunrise looks in Australia can be absolutely stunning!

6) The Southern Sky and Lights are very different — The constellations of the night sky are completely different in the southern parts of the Earth and the auroras are beautiful and more accessible than they are in the northern parts of the globe. Take some time to check them out!

If you ever get the chance to experience spring in Australia, take it and be sure to take your camera with you!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Adam Pretty

Profiles in Photography: Adam Pretty

This week’s Profiles in Photography takes us Down Under with sports photographer Adam Pretty. Pretty got his start in photography with The Sydney Morning Herald where he worked as a news photographer, moving into sports photography as part of that in 1997. In 1998, Pretty joined Getty Images as one of their sports photographers for many years before turning his focus on advertising photography for popular sports brands in 2007. His current clients include Adidas, Nike, L’Oreal, BMW, General Motors, Li Ning, Anta, Amway, and Wrigleys. During his stint as a sports photographer, he traveled widely and captured images of the Summer Olympics in 2000, 2004, and 2012 as well as the Winter Olympics in 2002. He has lived and worked in Australia, Europe, China, and currently resides in Japan where he works on both sports and advertising photography, expanding his portfolio as well as his horizons.

Though he no longer focuses on sports photography solely, Pretty is one of the most well-known and award-winning sports photographers of recent years. His shots of athletes in the midst of competing at the Olympics have graced the covers of many magazines and his individual and team portraits often focus on getting the action inherent in the sport itself. He makes excellent use of lighting to bring out the colors in team uniforms and the courts. When photographing swimmers, he frequently gets in and under the water, using natural and artificial lighting to give an impression of both depth and energy. Finally, he uses the athletes themselves, posing them in ways that make them look intimidating and vital instead of relying on the more tried-and-true methods of group line-ups.

Pretty’s photography style is definitely unique and sets him apart from other sports photographers. His passion for both sports and photography is clear in every photo he publishes. It is no wonder that he has been the recipient of so many prestigious awards over the course of his career.

— da Bird


5 Tips for Student Photography: Capturing Your Club

5 Tips for Student Photography: Capturing Your Club

With school back in session and the colors of fall washing across nature, this is the time of year that many school clubs are organizing events and festivals for Halloween and the harvest season. That means that, with the routine business of getting the new year started out of the way, this is a great time for student photographers and for yearbook photographers to get shots of clubs in action. To help with that, we have a few great tips on how to get the best and most original photos you can to spice up your yearbook instead of just relying on the bland “here’s all of us sitting on the bleachers” photos that dominate most club photo sections.

1) Use your club’s theme — If you’re in the Latin club, 4H, Future Teachers of America, or something else, try to get together with your fellow club members and make the central theme of your club part of the photo. Latin/Junior Classical League groups could try having their members bring white sheets and drape them around their clothes as togas. 4H members could dress in farming gear. Honor Society members could try finding mortarboards and gowns. Debate Club members could dress as judges (powdered wigs optional but very cool). The sky is the limit — be creative and have fun with it!

2) Fluorescent lights are terrible — Most school classrooms and gyms are well lit…just not for photography. Try to rig sheets and bouncers to soften the harsh overhead lights. That will help with making your photos much better.

3) Why so serious? — Try to get everyone to use natural expressions instead of forcing everyone to smile or scowl. Also, see if you can have the group pose in an arrangement that they have chosen instead of just sitting on bleachers or standing in a huddle.

4) Ask if the photos will be printed in color or black and white — The final prints being in color or in black and white will have a huge impact on how the photo shoot itself should be set up. Ask in advance and use that to make the session work to your club’s advantage!

5) Candid photos are welcome; don’t be afraid to edit them! — Throughout the year, you’ll have the chance to get candid photos of your clubs in action at different school and scholastic events. Since candid photos tend to have no real pre-planning, however, and you won’t generally carry around light bouncers or drapes with you, don’t be afraid to run these photos through an editing program to remove red eyes or light blotches on skin. Doing this will also give you experience in photo editing which can be a very useful skill regardless of what you choose as a career.

School clubs are great ways to get involved in your social groups and to make new friends and lasting memories. Every club will have its photo, generally, and every club should be involved in working to make their photos something that reflects the spirit of the members and the purpose of the organization itself.

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Edward Burtynsky

This week’s Profiles in Photography focuses on Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky is best known for his sweeping views of industrial landscapes including beaches, mines, quarries, and scrap piles. His work has been exhibited around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale. He is frequently cited as one of the top modern photographers in the world and his work is as inspiring as some of the great photographers from history such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson, both of whom Burtynsky claims as influences on his own work.

Burtynsky grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario where his father worked in a General Motors plant. In the 1970s, Edward’s father made a purchase that would change his son’s life. He bought a darkroom, cameras, instruction manuals, and developing chemicals from the widow of an amateur photographer. Together with his sister, the three of them soon learned how to make black and white photographs and began experimenting with different photography and darkroom techniques. Edward’s sister started a small business as a portrait photographer while Edward himself began taking night classes in photography, eventually entering the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

Burtynsky’s technique involves using a large format field camera to take extremely large photos of a landscape or vista. He also prefers an aerial perspective, seeking to find a high vantage point where he can get a broad, yet detailed, view of the subject of his photo. One wonders if, with the growing popularity of drone photography gear, Burtynsky will begin using such devices in his own work.

Should ever get the chance to see one of his exhibits, it is well worth the effort. Edward Burtynsky truly is one of the great artistic and landscape photographers of the modern era.

— da Bird