It’s been a long time since I entered a photo contest – High School I think, but this one sponsored by Cutting Board.com and John Boos & Co is a perfect fit. I have learned a great deal about food photography since starting FlosKitchen.blog about 5 months ago. I love every aspect of it. The cooking, photography, writing and the technical challenge. It is my hope among other things, this blog will lead to some food photography work. This contest is a good start because one of the prizes is a photography contract. I would be ever so grateful for your support. Click here to cast your vote.
Flo’s Kitchen Blog is one month short of being old enough to enter the contest for Bloggers so I’ll be in the open entry group. First the entries will be curated by the Cutting Board.com team. So check back to see if my entry is chosen. Fingers crossed. The actual voting for curated entries will be from October 2nd through October 13th.
Part of the contest includes a Behind the Scenes Award where you give details of what went into your shot. On this blog I usually explain how I do things with a recipe. So, included below is my recipe for my entry.
Now, a bit of background. I wanted to shoot outside in front of our weathered wood gate, but it has been windy the last week or so. After waiting several days for ideal conditions I decided to just get on with it.
My entry shot was taken inside, mid-morning with intermittent cloud cover. I set up for the best light in front of a south facing living room window. I used my tried and true Canon EOS Digital Rebel X and my favorite lens. A Canon EF-S 17-85mm zoom. I have had this camera for 8 or 9 years. I like it because it is small and fits my small hands. I can easily reach all the controls. However, I must say, I wish I had something that made the live mode (using the LCD monitor) less cumbersome. I shot this just using the view finder with the camera on a tripod. I have not been able to find my remote shutter release, ugh. That would have been handy!
My ISO was 400, aperture was F/5.6 and shutter speed was 1/80. The tripod was about 3 to 3 1/2 feet from my subject. I used my camera’s Aperture Priority mode so that my lens opening could be as wide as possible, allowing me to achieve a close-in blurry background (aka a shallow depth of field). The camera adjusted the shutter speed for me. I used manual focus so that I selected exactly where the sharpest focus was. Because it was a cloudy day and I was inside, I went with a 400 ISO. Anything less just wouldn’t have worked with the limited light I had.
To catch the light at the right height, I used a little folding side table. I staged everything on my big cutting board that I use every day. I used the “Little Butch” cutting board in addition to the big one to give everything another layer of height.
Here are a few shots of my set up without the food and cutting boards. I use this area for most of my blog’s featured shots.
I took about 80 shots inside and out. Surprisingly I did not like the outside shots because a lot of them were blown out in one area. And then there were the flies and the wind. We live on a ranch after-all.
I made just a few adjustments using Apple’s “Photo” Program on my iMac. A bit of cropping and using the sliders for light and color adjustments. I believe if I have to do a bunch of post production stuff, I must not be using my camera properly.
Now, a note to all you food photographers out there, don’t set the food down really low and leave to go cut some herbs. Even if it’s just for a minute. The dog will sneak a big hunk of cheese. I’m just sayin’…
This contest asks for a photograph showcasing your best charcuterie presentation featuring a cutting board. So for the food, I went local as much as possible. Most of the meat is from Keller’s Farm Store, a locally owned meat market in Albuquerque. The salami is beef jalapeño, the bologna is turkey green chili, and the bratwurst is chicken and green chili. All made fresh daily by Keller’s. The bread in the background is my own light rye and the tomatoes are from a neighbor. I slow roasted them based on a recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini. I like the pop of color they add. Everything else came from the regular grocery store.
The large cutting board is from Ikea and the small one is one my husband bought ages ago. I think it has oodles of character.
My #CutTheCheese2017 Photo
This is the recipe I used for my entry in the #CutTheCheese2017 Photo Contest.
As with any recipe, feel free to make substitutions and adjustments depending your equipment and conditions.
- 1 tripod
- 1 DSLR Camera Canon EOS Digital Rebel X 450D ISO 400, white balance cloudy
- 1 zoom lens Canon EF-S 17-85mm aperture f/5.6 shutter 1/80
- 1 large cutting board
- 1 small cutting board
- 1 selection of meats, cheeses, bread, crackers, olives, grapes, tomatoes, mustard
In front of a south facing window (for indirect lighting) place your camera on the tripod. Adjust the tripod so it is about 1 foot above subject with the head tilted down at about a 45 degree angle. Select the Av mode (aperture priority) on the camera and manual focus mode on the lens.
Set up food items using both cutting boards. Make it look nice. Place boards/food in front of window to achieve desired direction of indirect light. I used a small portable table about 2 feet high to place board on about 4 feet from the window.
Set white balance on camera according to light conditions (I set mine to cloudy). Set length on lens to 85mm to achieve narrow depth of field. Adjust camera position for just the right angle. Use manual focus to choose which parts of subject appear in sharpest focus.
Take lots and lots of shots from different angles and distances. Adjust the white balance as needed. Ideally use a remote shutter release to avoid camera shake.
Download pictures into photo editing software. I used "Photos" program on my iMac. Straighten, crop, adjust lighting and temperature using sliders in program. Select the best shot.