Guess who’s back!! All springy and back to the blog-o-spehere. How have you all been? I’ve been away..obviously..for the longest time and if you ask me honestly, even I didn’t think it would take me so long to be back. I did know I will, but “when” was the question. Sometimes, you need to take a step back, charge your mind cells up a bit and take it easy. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Just taking it easy on myself. For those of you, who have been around and waited patiently, a big heart-felt thank you!
I know it’s almost 3 months into the New Year and fortunately for me, my biggest resolution so far has stuck. That of not “over-committing” and when it comes to this blog, I’m precisely doing that. I did feel a little caught up initially when I started out. “To Keep Up”. However, not only dif I feel pushing myself unneccesariy, but found myself running out of solutions to fix it. Starting out with a month’s layoff..it’s just turned out to being almost a 6 month break! I’ve sorted those issues and I’m now going to go a bit slow. I’m really not one of those hooked on to blog-writing. It’s just not me. But, I find it more relaxing to post once-in-way rather than getting all stressed out about it. I want it to be happy, I want it to be a pleasurable experience. For you, for me as well. What it eventually stopped being, sometime back. Now that I’m back, after this break..I’ve decided to post maybe once in a week instead of daily about not only about photography but about the general experience.
During the time I took off from writing this, I scoured the internet and came upon many blogs/sites that discuss food photography and the many topics they discuss and I did notice something very peculiar..at least in about 90-95% of the cases. Most start with a big bang..posting pictures and talking about setups. Somewhere, after a month, two months..they end just as abruptly. And mind you, it’s not because there’s nothing more to talk. Of course there is..as you all know photography is an ever-learning process and food photography and ever-challenging subject so there is really no, end. Most people who start out to teach others in this area, are either from the f&b industry or started out as bloggers and have elevated their positions enough to attract assignments or they are just busy with their other lives and this for them, is a medium of relaxation. Well, that’s all fine! Till one fine day, it starts to become more of a chore. Food photography even for blogging for that matter, is quite a time consuming affair and trust me if you are not in the frame of mind, just don’t even attempt! Not even to save your readers list. The really interested people will stick around. Other’s were just in on the bandwagon. And, so the blog suddenly ends, the genuine followers are left wondering “what happened, this was perfect” and “where do I go from here next”. I’m quite sure there might be enough reasons to stop blogging..millions of it..but in most cases in trying to cope with the race, we tend to lose the very idea of having started it. A quiet private (er, not so private) escape. Finally, the so-called food photography blog, boils down to just recipes and images. Sounds familiar? Ya..to me as well. That kind of hit a cell for me and I didn’t want to fall prey to it. SO, I’m going to pull those breaks and enjoy the experience instead of being slave to it. I don’t know, how much I will be able to pull it along myself..and I’ve said that, right at the beginning of this journey, but if I can keep a steady momentum, irrespective of the little breaks in-between, that in itself will be an accomplishment. Another, word of caution, I don’t give out recipes for images of prepared food. You’d probably find that in about million other blogs, preparing the same dish (ultimately it’s all the same, it’s just that the language is different. Unless you happen to stumble upon a truly ingenious dish prepared by blogger which you will not find anywhere else..but try google first ;), if your search brings you back to the author, hey! that’s a find! And most likely those bloggers might be real world chefs in disguise or just truly experimental with what their palates can bear)! All Food Bloggers are NOT Food Photographers just by virtue of wanting to sharing their anscestral recipes visually). Some will be better than others, for sure. But Food Photography is a totally different field of art/or science…and many get that mixed up. I’m not professing to be one, through this blog either. My aim is to learn along with you, to improve my skills and share it as I go. My aim is to be a “Food Photographer”, not a Food Blogger who is good with their food images. So, shall we start talking Food Images??
To start things back, I’m going to keep the imagery simple. This is more like a “Before And After” shot. The image above, is straight out of the camera (SOOC) and for me by itself, I like it a lot. Apologies, for the watermark, apparently images are getting pilfered off the blogs as well, now. I certainly have taken a LONG break!
Now, I do have a ‘fancy camera’, with all the ‘fancy accessories’, and although I did shoot with that big toy, this image, right here..was taken with a point and shoot to shoot the setup. But I liked this image so much, I just decided to go with it for post to also demonstrate that, people looking to take good pictures, can do so with a bit of understanding of the tools they possess. As mentioned, SOOC with the following settings;
aperture: f/3.5 I shutter: 1/15 (handheld) I iso: 200 I focal length: 24.1mm (my fancy camera didn’t give me that distance..since i don’t have such a fancy lens :p) time taken: 15:34hrs. in India and most importantly the light source : available daylight (yes, you got to believe it! see the source of light shot and space it was done in, below)
The first word, crammed! Yes, that’s is actually a space which was recently done and it just contains the stairs up to the upper level of the house. What I like about the light falling through that window is that it is not directly falling on the subject. It hits the wall at the landing and by the time it reaches back at the onion basket, it gets diffused. Warmed. To help open a little bit of shawdows on the right hand side, I setup a piece of foam-core. So, for most of you who thought it was a window on the left-hand side, guess it was! A bigger source of light (a white wall). So, a bit of physics..says, yes, the light is reflected at the same angle opposite to what its coming from. (Now for all you science geeks, you know a better way to explain that, don’t you?) Not that I really went into so much of detail, I just liked the whole way the onions were lit up through the viewfinder. I realised the “formula” only later! Trust me!
Again, as mentioned earlier, I like the image as it is. It can be used for a multitude of requirements. However, I went a step more to see if adding a bit of spices (in post-process), might give me a different result. And yes, it did! See below..
Which one you like better, is a matter of personal preference. To me, both are nice, both are adaptable for different usages. And guess what, there might be more options that can be added which I haven’t even explored. A quick note, you don’t have to have the same space..NO! You don’t have to have the same light..NO! You experiment with what you have and choose what you like as an end result…YES!! Many will like your thought behind it, many won’t. WHAT DO YOU LIKE??
I’ll outline what I did here in post-process. I used Lightroom 3.6, but if you have a newer version of Photoshop (CS and its many numbers) you can play around with almost the same effects..just labelled and positioned differently. By effects, I mean values and not those extra nifties you will find in Photoshop’s pull down Effects Menu. Normally, you will find exact terminology and develop dialogue box with RAW files if you import them into PS first..as you will in Lightroom. However, you may not be able to do this with .jpegs alone (especially if you have a point and shoot). Lightroom gives that little extra leeway with those .jpegs. by giving you the same control as a RAW file would. But, do remember, any change you do make to a .jpeg file, will effect it’s final output quality and hence make sure, to use the highest quality setting available in your camera, even for .jpegs.
I will not be mentioning the exact numbers I used with each value for the ‘after’ image, just because it will really depend on the initial capture and again on what you want the final image to look at. But for starters, I will tell you the values I worked on from the control panel. Foremost what I applied was a pre-set called “bleach bypass” (comes with Lightroom but needs to be installed as a plug-in in PS), and I started out from there. I think that’s a safe way to go. If your editing software provides you with a number of presets, start with that and tweak the values as you like. Though, it’s not mandatory. I just went with it, in this case.
After having a rough canvass to start with, I played around with the following: Clarity, HSL (Hue.Saturation/Lumonosity), Tone Curve (Highlights/Shadows), White Balance, Blacks, Vibrance, Sharpness (Detail). I just ran the sliders Left to right till what I felt was closest to my vision. I then imported in PS, to re-size (or crop) and finished it a little more with the “Levels” slider (Cntrl L in Windows). That’s it. Against a black background, it looks swell!
I like the texture of the concrete..that’s all over the floor in the stair room. It gives a mild look of mud. I should have probably cloned out a few of those gaps…but I was so intent on just leaving things as natural as possible..and I was also excited with the final image, I wanted to load it up. (Oh, btw..another thing that’s taking a bit of importance in my life, is that I’m working on my first ever sole Food Portfolio! Single subject. No other fillers !)
So that’s it for now, folks! The ‘come-back’ post, has been pretty long. I’ll probably just get straight to the images in the following ones, whenever that will be. Please do feel free to leave your thoughts and comments. I do read each one of them and the whole point is to not only appreciate your visit, but to be also learn from anything you might want to contribute. Equally, it becomes easier to stop by your site as well and develop a keen and mutually beneficial blogging experience. And honestly, the more I hear from you..the more I will be motivated to put stuff out…the less breaks I might take ;).
Cheers and go take some photos!