Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to shoot moody images: Food Photography tutorial




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Over the last few months I have been getting lot of requests to do a  “ how to “ tutorial of moody images.  I wish I could just do a video tutorial, but video is not my thing. I will try to do my best and if you have any questions please feel free to comment leave me a message on Facebook or just email me.


Background and props 

I use dark color backgrounds and muted props if am going with any props to start with. You don’t want a white jug shining at you when everything else is muted, our eyes always go to the brightest part of an image. We need to create an autumn-winter kind of mood but our main hero is still the food, the props are playing second fiddle, we only use props to create a mood.  Similarly, with color,  complimentary colors work better, creating a monochromatic look. Warmer color tones play better too.  Again these are not rules, just guidelines.

See the image below - the background colors are all muted shades of brown and brown-black.
If we analyze the image it has warm tones, muted monochromatic background, this is only in respect to propping, we have not talked about lighting and camera yet.


#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography

Even the color of the food is almost the same family,  again this is not a rule but makes things easier.

However I have also done, images where the colors are not complimentary but it is still a moody image. But I might not use a white with a black background for moody, it will distract the eye.

Kind of props : rustic props really work wonders for a moody shot, again not cast in gold. You can do a very modern dinner setting and still be moody and romantic. Arrangement of the prop is your creative choice and will not effect the moodiness of the image.

Lighting 

Lighting is the key to any great photography, how you bend it and use it to create an image is your artistic expression. It eventually translates to your style and your trademark if I may say so. Moody images DOES NOT mean absence of light or dull images. Let me try and explain. When you are setting the table for a romantic dinner, you have subdued lighting, yellow warm light not a white dim light bulb, it creates an ambiance, you use light to create a mood. Similarly for a moody image you block light, and keep just enough to be able to display the hero, i.e food. You can play with the intensity the way you want, it is your creative choice. I am using natural light here.


Camera

Manual, get your camera to manual mode. I am assuming you understand aperture, shutter speed and ISO. If you don’t go read up your manual and get your fundaments clear.

Camera : any DSLR - am using Sony NEX-6 for this shot
Lens : Prime 50mm is what I will be using. It is a very versatile lens and if you don’t have it, might be a good time to think about it.

Shoot in RAW mode. So you can have total control on how the final image looks like. If you shoot jpeg, the camera will make certain decisions for you. Also in RAW you have complete control over editing.


We are going to be creating this image today.

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography


Grab some fruits from the refrigerator. Look at the colors, grab a matching board, preferably a darker color and set up the fruits the way you want it to be captured.  Here is a tutorial on how to paint boards.

Here is my set up showing you the direction of light. Not the light fixture, but the window.

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography

As you can see it is a sunny day and we have plenty of light, and we may not need to use all the light we have, so how do we reduce that ?

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography
Image - 1

Above is image -1 without any defectors or blockers. It is a good time to study the color and texture of the background. It has gray, green and blue. The blue brings out the blue in the purple grapes and the gray compliments the box that carry the fruit.

Camera setting : F 3.5, Shutter 1/60 and ISO 100

Now we  block the light on the left.

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography
Image-2

You can see the shadows are creating depth on the left in image 2. The camera settings remain the same

Camera setting : F 3.5, Shutter 1/60 and ISO 100

Now we block the light on the right, a bit diagonally so we still have some light towards the front apple.

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography
Image 3

More depth and shadows adding texture and lifting the images up in image 3 ?
Camera settings remain same.

Now am going to add a reflector to the grapes in image 4. Now if I don’t add a reflector to the grapes it will be too dark and it might just merge into the background. Not only will it add light but some lovely highlights to the grapes. By this time, it became a bit cloudy and even thou the camera settings is the same the image is a bit darker, which is great for us.

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography
Image 4 

Even now there is too much light, so we play around with camera settings. I think I want to pick F5 as my aperture, I want all my fruits to be in focus and clear, ISO - 100, no reason to go up, there is more light than we need. Having said that,  I will keep playing with the shutter speed till I feel I have the desired look. With me so far….? questions ??

  I ALWAYS expose my images a little more than I desire and the reason is, I want to capture as much information in the image as I can. I can always play around in post processing. I play with my shutter speed ( keep an eye on camera metering) and settle for 1/80. The sun is playing hide and seek at this time.

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography


Now for post processing  I used photoshop elements.

I darkened some areas with burn tool.
Removed unwanted white specks on grapes with spot healing and added more light to the grapes by selecting them and using levels.

Am still learning PSE and hope to use it better in the future.
The final image once again ….
#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography
Now scroll down and leave me a comment, do you like the post, want me to do posts like these ?? Inputs ?

Now that we are done with the tutorial some eye candy for you guys. Some of my favorite moody shots from yours truly.  Will do a bigger version of these image in my next 365 days of photography post. What’s with moody shots ? Can’t get enough of it … you guys too ?

#foodPhotography #FoodPhotographyTutorial #HowToShootMoodyFoodImages #SimiJoisPhotography





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74 comments:

  1. Thank you Simi for this useful post. I am going to refer to this every time I shoot a moody pic.

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  2. Simi your pictures are just stunning, as always! Thanks for the great tutorial. Whenever I eventually find some time to start working on my photography technique, this will be the first place I come!

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  3. Very nicely done Simi. Great post.

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  4. Amazing Simi .. I love every shot in this article..Good learning for me

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  5. Hey Simi..wonderful post..nicely done..

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  6. Awesome tutorial...keep them coming.

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  7. A great how-to, Simi. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Such an informative post, Thanks alot, love all your pics

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    Replies
    1. Awww thanks, loved writing this up.

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  9. A great tutorial and a fabulous shot! I really have to buy black borads and reflectors.

    You are very talented.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    Replies
    1. Rosa,

      you are the outdoor queen, these tools are meant for people like me :))

      Delete
  10. Thanks so much for this tutorial. Really helpful.

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  11. Fantastic tutorial for people like me Simi. I really appreciate all the efforts that you put in to writing this post.

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    Replies
    1. Anusha,

      It took me four hours to write it all up :) every minute was worth it

      Delete
  12. Simi..its such a easy step by step tutorial..you should these kind of posts often am always interested to see your behind the scene pictures.

    Thanks ince again.

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    Replies
    1. I will try posting more behind the scenes from now on :) thanks! Great input.

      Delete
  13. Great tutorial and amazing photos. Well done!

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  14. This is a nice post and am going to refer to it more often. Please do more tutorials. I like moody pictures and attempting to take some but I seem to be exposing too much. Will try more moody shots in the future.

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    Replies
    1. Usha,

      Will try and do more tutorials like this one. Thanks!

      Delete
  15. Its an amazing post! I read it without blinking more than thrice :D i was so much into it

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    Replies
    1. Suganya,

      :) thanks! I do that too, not blink and then my eyes hurt !

      Delete
  16. Hi Simi,

    Thanks for this wonderful post. What you use as a reflector? Sorry, I am a beginner in photography....

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    Replies
    1. Rashi,

      very simple wrap an aluminum foil around a small foam board for more light or just use white foam board for diffused mild reflection. Sorry forgot to mention that in the post. Will edit.

      Delete
  17. I really enjoyed to post. I've had a DSLR camera for four years and am just taking it seriously - going from auto to manual. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Setphanie, we have all been there the road from auto to manual is very liberating, take the plunge. Also try aperture priority mode, less scary and a step closer to manual.

      Delete
  18. I loved this! It was super detailed and clear. My only wish would be that you also talked about Lightroom, because that's what I usually use... But of course, we can't have it all, and this was awesome :)

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    Replies
    1. Ksenia,

      I can have one of my photographer friends do a guest post on light room if you want. Let me know what you are looking for ? Thanks!

      Delete
  19. Thanks for the wonderful share. Appreciate your effort !

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  20. Simi, your pictures are always stunning!! I love the moody ones and your tutorial.

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  21. Loved the moody tutorial very much,Simi..do post more on photography,will be highly beneficial :)

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  22. What a wonderful tutorial! Thank you for posting this with photos of how you set up your reflector and light blocking. I found it extremely helpful. Yes, I would love to see more like this.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nicky, will love to do more, let me know if you want something specific.

      Delete
  23. Please delete my other comment.. :)
    Lovely tutorial Simi... I was trying to take some pics using your tutorial.. Loved to play around.
    Is this a handheld shot??? Just curious..

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    Replies
    1. Sree,

      Since the shutter was 1/80 - it was very comfortsble to do a handheld. Below 1/40 I use tripod.

      Delete
  24. Thanks so much for this tutorial. I've pinned it to our board and also personally. Please come and join #theWeekendSocial again Thursday 9:00 PM EST.

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    Replies
    1. KC I did join the weekend social @ the midnight baker. Thanks for the invite, will add this post on your blog too.

      Delete
  25. Simi, I have always been amazed looking at your photos. Thank you for this very useful tutorial. Now I can try a few new things. Had a chance to go through most of your tutorials, you have put across all the information Just what I wanted. Thank you and please keep them coming.

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  26. Lovely post with elaborate details. .which any newbie in food photography can understand..loved reading it..hope to try it someday. .dslr on my wishlist!

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  27. This is the awesomest post i have come across.. thanks for such a great lighting tip

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  28. I almost exclusively shoot outdoors Simi and am trying to get out of that mould. Thank you so much for this post, your behind the scene photos are especially useful :)

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  29. Thank you for this post. So inspired by the depthful pictures, which are gorgeous, btw. Thank you much for this tutorial- I feel motivated. I use Elements and I'm still trying to get the hang of it.

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  30. Spending your free time by giving such quality information is very nice of u... Thoroughly enjoyed the article. It's very helpful for people like me who have zero knowledge on food shots. Thank you 😊

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  31. I've just seen one of your images on Pinterest and the link brought me here - so glad I visited, your work is fabulous!

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  32. I just wanted to learn more on moody food photography, tried to shoot some for my blog, but need to learn a lot. Thanks for the great tutorial!

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  33. Thank you for this post - it was incredibly useful! I'm looking to experiment with dark & moody food photography and it's so helpful to see the step by step thought process that goes into creating the perfect picture. Your pictures are stunning btw :)
    Do you think I could do similar post processing with Lightroom instead of Photoshop?

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  34. Your photos are amazing!! Thank you for the tutorials!!

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  35. Great post, thank you so much for sharing

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  36. Thank you Simi!!Indeed helpful!Do you use Spot metering or Centre weighed metering while focussing ?I have a Nikon D5200

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    Replies
    1. Preeti : centre weighted most of the time but spot metering for whites.

      Delete
  37. Thank you, thank you, thank you... you are amazing! your photographs are just perfection and your tutorials are clear, encouraging and very well explained. I am just starting on food photos and following this post I tried for the first time a dark background, and then... the results were exactly what I wanted. You help people to create beauty, I can not wait to do the next now.

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    Replies
    1. I am so glad that it did, would love to see the image, leave me a link :) or email turmeric53@gmail.com Thanks!

      Delete
    2. I am so glad that it did, would love to see the image, leave me a link :) or email turmeric53@gmail.com Thanks!

      Delete
  38. I was really wanted to learn this moody image shots, my concept is clear now, Thank you so much for such an amazing post Simi!!! :)

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  39. Hey! Perfect! Thank you for this tutorial. I have been looking for such lesson for 1 year!

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Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to browse. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. Hope you enjoy your stay :))

hugs!
simi

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