Avert Your Eyes
July 5th, 2011 by plumpdumpling

It’s no secret that I kind of like taking pictures and actually even like a few of my food photographs. I’m no Daniel Krieger nor Ex-Flexitarian nor Donny Tsang, but I’m also no [insert name of any of the numbers of inexplicably popular food blogs with dark, undetailed, totally-non-helpful photos].

So recently, my boyfriend gifted me with a new Nikon D5100 to support me in my longing to learn manual functions like a big girl. I’ve messed around with it on manual at home a little and used it on automatic on a vacation to Cape Cod, but our dinner at Asiate this weekend was the first time I used it to shoot food.

And I think I failed! My point-and-shoot was no joke, but I still just shoved it right up into the food and focused on what I wanted to highlight. Now, I guess I have to lean back, telescope my lens to focus in on what I want to, and trust that my lens is good enough to still keep the picture nice and crisp?

I’m hoping I’ll get the hang of it pretty quick-like, because right now, I’m dealing with Asiate photos that look like this:

THE HORROR. Someone teach me how to use this thing!

11 Responses  
  • Yvo writes:
    July 5th, 20116:00 pmat

    Yeah, switching from holding the camera low and to the food to jamming it up to your face and twisting the ring is a bit of an adjustment at first. (My dSLR has live view which I can’t figure out how to turn on, and I was too busy initially to actually read the manual and had to just jump in, feet first.) But it gets easier over time and you learn to change up the perspective on your photos, to play with angles, lighting (for at-home shots), and sort of work on the fly with it. My dSLR is now a little less than 5 months with me, and it’s been a fun (though hard) learning process. Especially the initial few weeks/months when I was like “I got a really nice camera (also a gift from the BF), and my pictures look worse than before, what gives?!”

    Good luck!

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      July 19th, 20115:14 pmat

      Ha, finding the live view on mine was a complete accident; I really believed for a while that such a thing didn’t even exist on DSLRs.

      Knowing what this thing can do is exciting, but I swear I was about to throw it at the wall this weekend at EMP when my shots suddenly started turning out pink! Guess you, uh, have to adjust the white balance again when the sun goes down? Oops.

      Thanks for the pep talk!

      • Yvo writes:
        July 19th, 20115:17 pmat

        Well, you just taught me why shots one day turned orange. Sometimes people think they’re helpful when they grab my camera and change settings (and I’d like to grab them and change some settings on them, if you get me!). I tend to keep it in AWB and mess with it later using Lightroom. Because I’m hungry, and my friends are hungrier… and they have knives.

        Glad you’re getting the hang of it though!!!

  • Anthony writes:
    July 6th, 201112:33 pmat

    I think the pic actually looks pretty damn good, remember we are all our own worst critics. I have no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before you’re taking pics that will rival any other food blogs or websites.

    @Yvo, there should be a button on the back of your camera that activates live-view, it’s very easy to use.

    • Yvo writes:
      July 7th, 20117:55 pmat

      Haha, nice try, that doesn’t work (as in, I’ve tried that).

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      July 19th, 20115:16 pmat

      Thanks, buddy! Maybe with a little bit of practice and some processing guidance from you, this’ll all work out. Except for that crazy red shot from today, of course, which I’m still totally going to credit to you.

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    July 7th, 20111:21 pmat

    That picture’s not bad, actually!

    OK, you probably already know this, but just in case: When you hold the camera up to your face, depress the shutter button halfway. In your viewfinder, you’ll see a bunch of squares or dots, depending on your camera. Those squares or whatever are what’s going to be in focus. Everything else will be out of focus to a greater or lesser degree.

    Also, while I am a firm believer in manual camera settings, there’s no shame in turning your lens on auto-focus.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      July 19th, 20115:20 pmat

      It scares me that there are people out there not using the half-press method, BUT. When I first got my camera, I immediately set it to single-point focus, because of course that makes sense for food photography, where you just want one part of the dish to be in focus most of the time. What I didn’t realize is that you can move the point around. So of course I accidentally did that, and then I spent the next three days wondering why only the right side of my pictures were ever in focus on auto. Ohhhh, n00bs.

  • han writes:
    July 9th, 20111:17 amat

    haha – with my p&s in the shop, ive been having to learn my dslr also! i am in the same camp ! but, i must say, auto does churn out some decent beauts :)

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      July 19th, 20115:23 pmat

      I just bought my boyfriend the S95 today! Now we’ll have to meet up with our DSLRs, S95s, and S90 and annoy the crap out of whatever restaurant we choose.

      • han writes:
        July 19th, 20115:27 pmat

        haha! awesome day! i got my s95 back from the shop last fri (reunited, and it feels so good!), so i am ready to doublefist my cams with the likes of y’allm:)

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