Category Archives: Food

Food Photography Adventures – Light Painting Cupcakes

My three previous blog posts were about the first three assignments for the food photography class offered by the Bryan Peterson School of Photography and taught by George Crudo.

Light painting of colourful cupcakes on blue plexiglas

The cupcakes were light painted using a StreamLight stylus LED light during a thirty second exposure

For the last assignment, we had to combine two of my favourite things, food and light painting. If you read this blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the light painting technique.

Any kind of still life can make for a really good light painting subject, so why not food?

There is a caveat though. Since it can take a while to do a light painting, the food must look fresh for quite some time. One also has to paint in the dark, and in Scotland during the summer, this means quite late at night. For these reasons, I chose to light paint some cupcakes I had bought at a confectionery nearby.

When I saw the colourful cupcakes in the store window, I instantly knew I would photograph them on my blue plexiglas sheet. I was quite pleased with the final result. The light painted cupcakes look nice. And they tasted great, by the way.


Food Photography Adventures – Part 3

This week on the menu, we have some meatballs and tomato sauce, mushrooms with feta stuffing and finally, for desert, some tasteful tarts. All prepared by Chiara Scipione of Italian Food with Style

On the photography side, the pictures in this blog post were taken using two lights, a main light positioned between 10 and 2 o’clock and a fill light at about 5 o’clock..

Three bowls filled with tomato sauce, with two meatballs each, on a white background

Meatballs with tomato sauce.

I wanted to make these meatballs and tomato sauce look really fresh. So I decided to use a white background and make it as bright as possible without clipping the highlights. Colourwise a touch of green to complement the red of the tomato sauce looked like an obvious choice. Chiara must know quite a bit about design (I guess Italians must be born with an innate sense of style) as she prepared exactly three bowls.

There is a rule of composition in the visual arts called the rule of odds. According to Wikipedia, “The rule of odds states that by framing the object of interest with an even number of surrounding objects, it becomes more comforting to the eye, thus creating a feeling of ease and pleasure.” Don’t you feel the sense of balance in the above image.

Mushrooms with feta cheese stuffing on basil leaves

The mushrooms, bowls, basil leaves and tomatoes represent the colours of the Italian flag. Coincidence? You be the judge.

The lighting for the mushrooms stuffed with feta cheese was the same as in the photograph of the meatballs and tomato sauce. I set the three dishes in a diagonal, as it makes for a more dynamic composition. A touch of red and the repeated use of the rule of odds complete the set up. I quite like this photo.

Tarts on a white background

The lighting here is crucial in rendering the texture of these delicious tarts.

And finally, some desert. In order to make the tarts look most appealing, I wanted to get some specular highlights on the jam, and I therefore put my main light as a back light.
A second light is used to fill the shadows and reveal the maximum amount of detail in the tarts. I get hungry just looking at this pic. Don’t you?



Food Photography Adventures – Part 2

On the menu this week, red velvet cupcakes, mascarpone cream, “Baci di Dama” (lady’s kiss) and Tiramisu. All prepared by Chiara Scipione of Italian Food with Style.

Red velvet cupcake with cream, strawberries and some Italian coffee on a black slate.

The red velvet cake recipe originates from Canada, according to Wikipedia. I’ve never had an original one, but I can say those made ‘Italian style’ as in this photo, tasted delicious

On the photography front, we were to use one artificial light source and a reflector for this assignment. I placed a speedlight in a Wescott softbox camera right and used a reflector on the other side to open the shadows.

Red velvet cupcake with strawberries, mascarpone cream, dark chocolate and some Italian coffee

Another way to serve a red velvet cupcake dessert. With mascarpone cream and dark chocolate. Are you salivating already?

Compared to window light, the speedlight in a softball gave me a more directional light, and hence the texture of the food is better revealed. Also, the light is more consistent in power and colour temperature. That means that once one is set up, one can do several dishes pretty quickly. In Scotland, the light can change quite a bit and when clouds come and go, the exposure and colour of the light changes. With natural light one has to constantly monitor the light in order to get consistent results.

Baci di dama, lady's kisses, with coffee and cream

Baci di dama, literally “Lady’s kisses” is a specialty from Turin, Italy.

The two set-ups for the red velvet cupcakes and the Baci Di Dama (lady’s kiss) were shot in succession in a relatively short time. I then decide to try something else with the tiramisu in the glass. I wanted it on a reflecting surface, and after a few tries, I settled on a mirror. I lit the scene from above, but it took a fair amount of time to get it right. I most certainly didn’t want the light from my softball to be reflected by the mirror into the camera. That would have totally ruined the shot. In the end, I was quite happy with the result of the ‘tiramisu lighting challenge’.

Tiramisu in a glass with strawberry on a mirror

I must confess tiramisu is one of my favourite desserts. According to Wikipedia, it was invented in the 1960’s at the restaurant “La Beccherie” in Treviso, Italy. If you live in Scotland and can’t make it all the way to Treviso, I would highly recommend you try Chiara Scipione’s tiramisu. You won’t be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t.

Food Photography Adventures – Part 1

All businesses can benefit from professional pictures to advertise their services and products, but I think it is especially important if you are in the food business. Because if your products don’t look appetising to the potential customer, he/she won’t want to taste your food, yet alone buy from you. In other words, with food, how your products look is going to have a very direct effect on the customer’s opinion of the quality of your dishes.

Home made tagliatelle with tomatoes prepared by Italian chef Chiara Scipione

Very simple dish, and yet this home made tagliatelle with tomatoes dish tastes even better than it looks!

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you already know that I always like to learn new things and perfect my craft. In this regard, a wonderful opportunity presented itself during the month of May, as world class photographer George Crudo taught a food photography course for the Bryan Peterson School of Photography.

Freshly made tagliatelle, raw, and a single tomato.

The freshly made tagliatelle of the above dish, before they were cooked. I couldn’t resist, for colour contrast’s sake, and added a small tomato to the photograph

I’ve been intrigued by food photography for some time now, and since I very much enjoyed the many classes I took at the Bryan Peterson School of Photography, I decided to enrol in that course. I was also fortunate to be able to team up for this project with chef Chiara Scipione of ‘Italian Food with Style’. Each week, Chiara would prepare a few dishes for me to photograph.

Raw ingredients, olive oil, basil, eggs and tomatoes.

Raw ingredients

For the first week of the course, we had to take images using natural light only, and learn to harness the power of window light to show the food’s texture. On the menu this week were home made tagliatelle with tomatoes and pesto pasta. Once you’ve tasted home made pasta, it is really difficult to go back to the kind you buy at the supermarket!

Close-up of while bowl of freshly made pesto sauce

Freshly made pesto sauce. I just love the colour!

All the food photographs in this blog post were taken using a light coming through a window camera left and a reflector camera right to lighten the shadows. I also only needed to use a single lens, my trusty Nikon 105mm micro. And I had almost forgotten how much fun you can have using only minimal equipment!

Plate of freshly made pesto pasta on white tablecloth

Freshly made pesto pasta. Absolutely wonderful lunch!

Pesto pasta on a slate with a glass of white wine and tomatoes

Another presentation of the pesto pasta dish of Chiara Scipione