Yearly Archives: 2010
I was honored as always to photograph the newest seasonal offerings at the Black Forest Cafe & Bakery in Amherst, NH. I’m always intrigued to see what they’re going to come up with next! In this case, it was a holiday cookie gift basket which showed off their famous seasonal shortbread cookies. They do amazing shortbread there, and the shapes & colors change all the time with the seasons and holidays. But one thing never changes: THE BUTTER. Seriously authentic shortbread made the real old fashioned way.
The second item was their new Mocha Chocolate Layer Cake…… this cake is a 4-layer beauty! It’s a creamy chocolate coffee delight that was as decadent to eat as it was to shoot. Absolutely delicious! It was like festive in a box.
I get a lot of questions about my food shots that I take in restaurants. When food arrives at the table, I take a few seconds to whip off a snap or two and then we eat!! My friends who have been eating out with me for years just habitually pause for a moment or two while I do my thing before they dig in. I appreciate it! 🙂 Most people want to know how it looks so “bright” in my photos when it’s normally so dark in restaurants. Truth is, photography isn’t rocket science. It’s just all about light, and how much you let into the lens.
I can’t speak for a point-and-shoot camera (although in the past I have had lots of fun with my Canon PowerShots!). These tips are for DSLR cameras. Normally for my food shots that I do for clients in the privacy of my own studio (a.k.a. home), I prefer my 100mm 2/.8 macro lens. But it’s just not practical to take to restaurants due to the physical distance from your chair to the food on the plate in front of you. You’d never fit it in the frame! My next preference would be my widest lens, the 17-40 f/4 but that 4.0 aperture is just not wide enough to capture the dark ambiance that you find in so many restaurants (edited to add that since I now have the 24-70L 2.8 I really never use this lens anymore….for anything). So what then? You need your fastest glass, and your widest glass. This combination for me is in my 50mm 1.4. Which incidentally, is what I use for pretty much everything anyway, so I don’t know why I bother even taking it off my camera. It’s not really all that wide, in fact, it’s just “standard” which means it’s pretty much the same focal length as what you see out of your eyeballs. So that, my friends, is my big complicated process of elimination of how I arrive at which lens to use.
100mm 2.8–too long
17-40 f/4–wide enough, but not enough aperture
50mm 1.4–just right, usually
The next part is the fun part. I stuff my camera into my purse and go to dinner, and when the food comes out I can never resist the urge to get a few shots before I eat. I shoot in manual, and I choose an aperture that’s pretty wide, and I choose an ISO that is as low as will still get me a decent shutter speed. Higher ISOs can be detrimental for a good shot, because you don’t want all that noise (aka “graininess”) to make your shot look like crap. Luckily my 5D is awesome with noise at high ISOs so I don’t have to worry about it too much. I frequently use 1600 if I need to, just for my personal photos and I’m happy with them.
Here I am about a month ago at Amos Mosquito’s in Atlantic Beach, NC. My friend Kelly (www.lifeaskelly.com) was nice enough to take this shot of me taking a pic of my friend’s martini. How nice to be in a picture! I never end up on the other side of the camera very often, so it’s a nice treat. So that’s me taking the photo, and beside it is the end result of what I was shooting. Exposure was: ISO400, 1/320, f 4.0. We were eating out on the patio that evening so light was not an issue. It was beautiful!
It’s not always that easy. In some restaurants, like this one time when we went to The Melting Pot, it is SO dark in there that I really had to pull out all the stops. I don’t remember for sure, but I may have even had to manually focus because it was so dark my camera couldn’t find anything to focus on. For all of these shots, I used ISO1600, 1.4 and I hand-held a shutter speed of about 1/40 for these. LOL. I have a pretty steady hand. That’s waaaaay too wide of an aperture for this situation but it was the only way I could get the shutter speed up, and as a result you get some heavy-duty bokeh going on. Which is normally very nice and desireable, but this is a lot. It almost looks like the entire shot is out of focus, but it’s not. It’s just lot of bokeh. Bottom line is, if you think it looks cool (and I did), then it works.
That’s the joys of being a natural light photographer. Knowing how to manipulate the light in a wide variety of situations, and make it work.
I have the utmost gratitude and appreciation for wedding photographer Sarah Swan for asking me to be her 2nd shooter for Lydsay & Billy’s wedding this weekend. She is so wonderful and laid back to work with, and being 8 months pregnant I can hardly believe she’s still working! So it was my honor to help her out however I could and be a 2nd pair of eyes for her.
One of my assignments was to arrive a little early at the Mile Away Restaurant in Milford and get some details shots of beautiful little things to tell the story of the wedding day before the guests started arriving. I nearly died of happiness, as this is my FAVORITE thing to shoot. EVER. And the venue could not have been more amazing. I had never been there before, never heard of it, but as soon as I arrived I knew this place was incredible. It was like straight out of Country Living magazine. Every nook and cranny was decorated and filled with something unique and beautiful. I walked around in a creative daze, shooting all kinds of beautiful flowers, food, decorations, table settings, etc. I also shot some candids of the wedding party and guests in the in-between moments.
Sarah is so kind and generous to allow me to share the photos that I took on my blog and portfolio and I can’t thank her enough.
And the cake! I could hardly believe this hutch they had behind the cake. I seriously felt like I was in a magazine.
Lydsay and Billy were an adorable couple and they both looked great. This shot makes me laugh because I can’t believe the amazing luck I had with capturing this flash at just the right instant–crazy lucky!
So again, I can’t thank Sarah Swan enough for the opportunity to shoot with her. I know she pours her heart into the weddings she shoots, so I hope that I was able to capture some images that she can use as well.
I was so pleased to get to do some more food shots for The Black Forest Cafe in Amherst –this time for some fall holiday marketing! I love the seasonal menus they offer and it’s so much fun to shoot different foods throughout the year as colors and textures and flavors change.
Their Chocolate Caramel Tart is sooooo rich and decadent…. and it photographed beautifully. Beauty shots, beauty shots…. GAH I love my job!
Another favorite is their seasonal shortbreads which are always adorable…… but you know me, I am totally partial to the Halloween ones. So glad they were in my goodie stash to photograph. I tried a couple of different fun backgrounds, because why the heck not? Too fun not to.
And of course the classic Thanksgiving staple: The Pecan Pie! I’ve eaten a lot of pecan pie in my life, and I can honestly say this one is among the best, if not THE best. Perfect in every way.
I’m writing this post about a meal I had in October 2010 in January 2012 because it has honestly stood out in my mind for so long in so many ways that I keep coming back to it. I was able to capture some fabulous memories that evening, which was incredibly special because I was back at home in NC on a girls’ retreat with my best friends from college. It was the first time we had seen each other in probably 10 years so we were having an incredible time, at the beach, no kids, husbands, families, etc. Our friend Laura suggested Amos Mosquito’s in Atlantic Beach, NC for dinner and it was perfect. We ate out on the patio that beautiful night and the evening light was amazing, and everything really came together for some food shots that I will never forget. Remember, these are ladies who are well practiced in the custom of letting me snap a picture or two of their food before we eat. What can I say? My friends are incredibly patient and I work super fast.
I love the fact that I have these photos of that evening out with my friends, because it seems so long ago now. I love to look at them and remember what a beautiful, lighthearted and much needed evening that was.