In our neck of the woods a lot of people will be going over the hills and through the woods to Grandma’s house this week. It’s Thanksgiving in America. For our challenge this week, we wanted to indulge our love of carb-based side dishes and deep-fried turkey, but we also wanted to make a photo challenge that anyone can participate in. Seeing as how eating is something everyone on this planet does on a daily basis, we thought we’d ask you to share photos of what you’re eating this week. What’s #onthetable for you?
Your photos can be of anything on your table, but preferably food. Here’s a few tips for taking good food photos:
Lighting: Lighting is the single most important detail for taking food photos, particularly when you’re taking them with your phone. NEVER use the flash for your photos, even if you’re in a dark restaurant. Besides the fact that a big flash will annoy other diners, in almost all circumstances you won’t end up with a good photo. Check your phone to see if there are any controls to control exposure, and of course you can rely on Autofix, Autocontrast, or lighting adjustments after the fact to fix some bad exposures. Natural lighting is always going to be your best bet, so if you’ve made something that looks delicious but isn’t photographing delicious, think about moving it over to the window. The photo above, which we took in our Pier 9 kitchen, has some lovely San Francisco Autumn light coming in through some big windows. And it makes a huge difference.
Framing and composition: Get up in there. Don’t be shy about taking close-up photos, but be aware that your phone probably has limited options when it comes to depth of field. You can probably focus your phone’s camera by pressing your finger on the spot on the screen where you want the camera to focus, but you won’t be able to take close-up macro shots. Because of these limitations, how you choose to frame and compose your shot makes a huge difference with your phone. You’ll want to experiment with framing and composition manually, so take a lot of shots!
Shoot from above: One of the simplest and most reliable techniques for getting a good photo of food on the table is to carefully compose your subject, moving the tableware, dishes, and accoutrements around until they’re just the way you like them. Then, rise above the table — stand on your chair if it helps — and bring your phone down toward the table until you’ve framed the photo the way you like it. In this kind of photo people are usually absent, but if you can do this above someone else, even better. See how well @saologic does this in the above photo we featured about two years ago? Of course, standing on a chair above someone is not recommended if you’re at an actual restaurant.
Consider ingredients: Food prep can make for some great photos, so think about that angle. The ingredients of food are sometimes more beautiful than the finished product, even if they’re half-peeled. We took the photo above in our kitchen at Pier 9, and it ended up being a better shot than the final dish.
Tag your photos with both hashtags #pixlr #onthetable on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Flickr. We’ll find and feature the most creative. Follow us on Instagram and watch what other people make. You can get some great ideas from the community of people who join us every week in our photo challenges.