A Personal Photo Challenge: Food

Donna hosts a photography challenge each month, providing a subject for us to photograph, and lots of links to helpful sites. This month, the challenge was food. And it was a challenge.

I took so many photos and discarded most of them. They just didn't look like I wanted them look, nor even as good as other food photos I've taken. 

Shadows everywhere in spite of using a foam core board at right angles to bounce light and using the brightest corner of my dining room, with corner windows for light.

Frustrated, I went back and looked over some of the food photos I like best and discovered they were all taken outdoors. So out I went, in my sweater and socks, onto the deck, with my pears (second photo) and my salad. Little Miss A watched from inside the house. "What are you doing, Nana? Close the door or the bugs will bite me." Luckily, it's much too cold for bugs.

I was also determined to use more of the manual features of my little Nikon Coolpix, and so I took about a hundred shots of the roasted pears with créme anglaise using various settings. In the end, I find that the settings feature on my camera usually gives me the photos I'm happiest with - I used the closeup setting for all of these. Any editing involved some cropping and boosting the contrast with Picasa. 

For more challenge participants, visit A Personal Photo Challenge. Next month is layering textures - yikes - I know nothing about that! A good challenge is ahead.

Oh, for food photographers, the book Plate to Pixel by Hélène Dujardin is wonderful. It`s a fine primer for food, but also any still life photography. I highly recommend it. 


  1. Oh! These All are SO colorful! You did a great job with the lighting...and the pear half in the bowl? My favorite! Love the old soup bowl...!
    Nice Shots!!

  2. It's all about learning and you did great! I took about a dozen shots for each of my setups, and there were other setups that didn't make the cut at all. So no worries that it took you a while to find your groove. Ah, nice diffused outdoor lighting is so nice and you don't have to worry about color balance issues from artificial lighting! I'm glad that you realized it would be easier to do it that way. The second and last photo have terrific color. Love the pop of red against the pears and the salad makes me hungry! The lace edged plate on the first photo is a marvelous prop. On the third photo, it is beautifully plated and the fruit half is on an attractive composition angle. A pop of an adjustment layer in post-processing would banish the slight shadow look and make it sing.

    You did splendidly, so give yourself a round of applause! And don't sweat the applying textures challenge. You will have fun - I promise - because you will have free rein to be creative!

  3. That is probably why I like the way my fries looked...taken outside. I took nowhere near the number of photos you took...your dedication shows in these lovely shots. I judge all photos of food by whether I would like to eat the food or see the photo on my wall. I could happily do both with these.

  4. This is like an visual essay on pears.. how creative, the third one especially! Great job, and have a good weekend!

  5. I had a real challenge with shadows and light bouncing off things too and my best photos are taken outside as well. The pear half looks delicious, but it is the colourful salad that I like best.

  6. Oh my! That salad looks incredible. I like how close you got....you can see all of the vivid colors. I agree that good natural lighting makes all the difference! I think I should be eating at YOUR house! heehee!

  7. Those look great! You have an eye for a great shot.

  8. Beautifully done! The last photo is so colourful. Outdoors in daylight is best I guess when one doesn't have the proper reflectors etc. for indoor shoots. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Lorrie!

  9. Donna's challenge has certainly whet my appetite tonight! :)
    I am grabbing my fork so I can dig into that beautiful salad! I love the color contrast in the golden pears against the red background. I think you met the challenge well!

  10. Hi Lorrie,

    My hat's off to you for taking this challenge -- I'm very intimidated by food photography! Your last two photos turned out really well, and the one of the salad is gorgeous. Such bright colors, which really make food more appealing anyway, don't they? Great job!

    I also like to use the boost feature on Picasa; it can make such a difference in the look of our pictures. Thanks for sharing your photography and the tips as well, Lorrie. I hope you have a great weekend!


    Denise at Forest Manor

  11. I'm glad someone understands how difficult food photography can be. It's been my personal challenge for 5 years now. =) I've gone outside to set up my props etc. and sometimes wonder what the neighbors must think if they look out their window. They are immigrants and maybe they have wondered about this crazy Canadian woman.

  12. You did great! I set up a lot of shots outdoors cause I have found the light to be so much better. I try not to use a flash indoors if I can get away with it. I just shoot and hope for the best! Those pears look yummy! Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Oh Lorrie
    You should be very proud of your 'food' photos.
    The two pears sitting on a red velvet cloth is stunning - such good contrast.
    You've really done justice to Donna's challenge - thank you for recommending the book, I'll try and get it from my local library.
    Wishing you a happy weekend!

  14. Your efforts produced some photos to be pround of - they all look delicious!!

  15. Food photography is not as easy as it would seem. I think that the salad came out pretty well. Valerie

  16. I'm liking the sound of this photography challenge, Mary @ A Breath of Fresh Air is participating too. Your salad dish looks so yummy, it jumps right out of the screen at me! Good job!

  17. I too find shooting food pics quite challenging but you have done very well with these, Lorrie. Love the vibrant colours of the salad.

  18. Great job! This has been the most challenging challenge of them all so far for me. Lighting is so important. It's hard to get it right. I like the pares with the red background and the ones with the almonds the best.

  19. Wow, such a food feast for the eyes! I visited each participant's blog and saw some amazing photos. Well done everyone! Now I'll have to try taking food photos outside. Bye........

  20. Your salad looks so luscious!
    All of your photos look just great.

  21. I think I mentioned the Helene Dejardins book about food photography to you before? The library just got it in, and it's so beautiful...you might like it. Happy Thanksgiving.


  22. All your photos are lovely! I love the first shot the best, I think because of the lacy edge of the plate, it makes a wonderful frame for your subject...Enjoy your day!

  23. Well, those pears look real enough to eat. I think I started drooling with the first picture, and by the time I got to the pears with almonds -- oooh!


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