2010-01-16 Melanie’s Bday

A hand on food photography

Truffle fries with parmesan

Truffle fries with parmesan
Mission Beach Cafe, The Mission, San Francisco, Califfornia

Olympus E-P2, M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6
1/13sec, iso 1200, 14mm (28mm)

San Francisco is obsessed with french fries cooked in truffle oil, and Mission Beach Cafe is no exception. Out here they are nicknamed, “crack fries” because they taste so good —you then get this truffle mushroom downer in the pit of your stomache if you gorge on them. One nice twist is these have grated Parmesan Reggiano on top. Tasty!

If you notice in the mouseover, the colors are a bit off. There is no “food shot” scene setting available in the Olympus E-P1 like in some cameras. Such modes are different from regular macro photos in that the auto white balance is usually quite aggressive at trying to range across the image, and dim indoor lighting common with most restaurants means that mostly right doesn’t cut it. Luckily, it is easy to recover the color from the RAW. Another nice thing is that scene settings in the E-P2, as with most cameras, override my black-and-white processing defaults.

Other than that, the E-P2 makes a great camera for food photography. When shooting food, the three trends seem to be:

  • Get the camera down below eye level. (You need a small camera to avoid embarassing yourself.)
  • Get in really close to the food. (You need a close focusing lens.)
  • Use depth-of-field to draw focus to a food details. (You need a larger sensor.)

In this case, I stabilized the camera just by resting my wrist against the table. I am thinking that a better solution might be the Distagon T& 2,8/25 ZF which is an insanely close focusing wide-angle on my Nikon, but almost a macro normal on the E-P2 (with adapter). Right now, however, is a bad time to buy as Zeiss is planning to update that lens.

With food photography there is a lot of post-processing going on—all designed to make it seem like there is none. I used nik Color Efex Pro for this one: pro contrast to correct for the color cast, and also separate the fries a bit, then I added in a tinge of saturation and warmth with brilliance/warmth to make it reflect the indoor lighting—don’t add too much because over-saturated food doesn’t look appetizing. The other filters (darken/lighten center, film effects) are used to draw attention and give it a less digital look to the image. I could have done that just as easily in Aperture.

4 thoughts on “2010-01-16 Melanie’s Bday

  1. Well, I bought the GF1 for the 20mm f/1.7 and the fast AF, as my Sigma DP2 was just too slow for anything but static subjects. The praise for the prime lens is not hype (tack sharp wide open, and fairly pleasing bokeh) and it is well worth the wait. I also have the Voigtländer adapter for M-mount lenses, but found it less than practical in real-world use.

    The only minus point is the fact it doesn't have an orientation sensor (the GF1 doesn't have an orientation sensor in the body and requires the lens to have one to auto-rotate the pictures, which is quite bizarre). On a E-P2, that should not be an issue.
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