|Cover of Photography Fundamentals for Food Bloggers|
Allow me this brief diversion from my usual content to crow about a new e-Book: Photography Fundamentals for Food Bloggers--The Basics: Cameras, Lenses, and Light by Adam V. Barnes. Of all the food-blog photography that I admire, Adam's food photography is a visual ode to the edibles he captures. Adam harnesses light and shadow in a way that lends three-dimensional qualities to his food photos. He is the light-and-shadow whisperer.
Adam and his wife, Cheryl Beverage Barnes, publish the blog Picture Perfect Meals and are photographer and author of Picture Perfect Meals: Little Book of Appetizers and Picture Perfect Meals Christmas Cookies and Confections. Adam's photography, has appeared in numerous magazines--most notably Southern Living and Vogue. For food bloggers, for Instagramers, for everyone else who loves (and lives) to photograph great food, Photography Fundamentals for Food Bloggers--The Basics: Cameras, Lenses, and Light is a book that demystifies, instructs, and inspires.
What the Book Covers...Cameras
Besides the book's achingly beautiful food photos, Adam explains, with minimal technospeak, the advantages of various cameras for food photography. Adam says, "... it is not necessary to have a lot of interchangeable lenses and high megapixel resolution to make beautiful food photographs. What you need is equipment you are comfortable with and your imagination." Each of the major types of commercially available cameras is reviewed: compact digitals, bridge cameras, DSLRs, and even vintage view cameras. Each can be used for food photography, and Adam explains how each camera can work well for you (i.e. budget-conscious bloggers and foodies can get great results with bridge cameras, which deliver good results in lower light, according to Adam).
This is the part of the book that was most helpful for me. Before reviewing this book, I consulted Adam regarding the right camera lenses for food photography. His advice was spot on, and I've since seen a significant improvement in my food photos.
Pictured above are two shrimp quesadilla dishes that I photographed months apart and with two different lenses. The top photo was taken in August, 2012 with a Nikon 40mm f/2.8G AF-S DX Micro Lens. Aside from my mistake of applying too much color saturation in post processing, the image is not sharp where I wanted it to be, which was on the whole quesadilla. Beyond that, it's just bad.
After contacting Adam and asking him for advice about how I could improve, he suggested a moderate telephoto lens: 85 mm, 100mm, or 135mm. The second photo was taken in June, 2013 with a Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S lens. By following Adam's advice, my photos are not only sharper, the focus is where I want it to be: squarely on the food.
|Anchovy & Egg Salad, taken with the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S lens|
In Photography Fundamentals for Food Bloggers--The Basics: Cameras, Lenses, and Light, Adam discusses the pros and cons of using normal, wide angle, telephoto, zoom, macro, and prime lenses for food photography. Each lens category is covered based on its usefulness (and special uses) for shooting food photos.
This book does more than "cover" lighting. According to Adam, "The thoughtful use of of light is what allows us to go from just recording a dish to producing a mouthwatering image that draws our reader in." The general explanations of natural and artificial light are here, but unlike other instructional food photography texts (and I've read most of them), he focuses on the quality of light. Adam stresses understanding of the "attributes and properties of the light" rather than coaxing bloggers to rely on one source of light (such as "natural" light). Using examples, he explains how he achieved various photographic effects with natural and artificial light sources.
After each chapter on cameras, lenses, and lighting are "Adam says" sections, which include tips and advice from Adam's vast experience as a professional photographer. It's similar to a previous "Adam Says" feature on Picture Perfect Meals, which is now a series of posts called "In the Studio." In these posts, Adam details a food-photo shoot from concept to completeness for every aspect of the photo, from camera to lenses and lighting plus styling.
Why I Recommend This Book
I've learned what I know about photography and have improved because of Adam's generosity and clear guidance from his replies to my blog comments and through a few e-mails. Adam's food photography knowledge and his clear, warm writing style has the effect of a mentor standing by and patiently directing as you plan and focus your next shot. Although I acknowledge that I have more to learn about food photography (particularly about lighting), I'm confident that, after reading Photography Fundamentals for Food Bloggers--The Basics: Cameras, Lenses, and Light
my next photo session will be noticeably better.
The E-Book is Affordable
I've purchased other E-books, including one for food photography, but none was more affordable than $4.99, which is what you'll pay for Photography Fundamentals for Food Bloggers--The Basics: Cameras, Lenses, and Light. A print copy is available for $9.99, and you can get both for $14.94. If, like me, you've spent hundreds on camera, lenses, artificial light sources, etc., then $4.99 to invest in your photography skills is smart money--well spent.
A Project in the Works
Adam and Cheryl are planning and raising funds for a series of webisodes about food photography and food styling. Click here to contribute and get recognition and gifts from Adam in return.
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