Food Blog Camp: Seeing the Light

by Shawnda on January 6, 2011

in Food Blog Camp,Photography & Props,Travel

9am comes earrrrly when you go to bed late… and then you lay in bed because you’re too excited about the next day’s photography workshop to sleep.

Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White on Rice Couple led the first photography workshop, Using Natural Light and Its Movement, on Day 2 of Food Blog Camp. After the presentation, we were turned loose on a gigantic table of fruit, vegetables, breads, and other baked goodies to experiment with shooting in natural light.

The exercise emphasized one of the points that Todd and Diane had presented earlier – shadows add depth, drama, mood. A picture of the same plate of food from 4 different sides will tell you four different stories. It also explained why some of my very favorite photos on this site are the ones that took the longest (and most of the time, both of us) to set up.

I’m so guilty of putting my subject in the same place, regardless of time of day or lighting, grabbing the camera and hitting the shutter button. I’m guilty of grumbling about the light but not doing anything about it – like moving my subject to a brighter area. And then I grumble about not being able to get good photos. Sometimes I’ll even try to blame the equipment. I’ve taken plenty of bad pictures with good equipment.

But the shots where we actually took time to analyze the situation – take a few test shots, think about the light, where it was coming from, and what that meant for our subject – those photos consistently turn out beautifully.

After The Foodie Groom and I uploading our photos, we swapped laptops to look at the other’s photos. The exercise further confirmed what I’ve known all along: he and I have two very different tastes in food photography. The “12 o’clock light” style (or backlit) is my favorite. It produces crisp whites and bright photos (aka, “girly photos”) with hardly a shadow in sight. He likes moody pictures. Darker. Shadowy.

I’ve always done whatever I could to try to eliminate shadows from my photographs. I’ve always seen shadows as the enemy – imperfections in what could have been a great photo. And this why we came to Mexico, to be shown the light. Literally.

It took every ounce of strength that I had to upload my shadowy (on purpose!) food photos to Flickr and share with the other campers. Shadows are beautiful. Shadows are beautiful. Hit Upload. Deep Breath. Repeat.

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