In my last post, I told you about my new camera (which my husband bought me for Valentine’s day and the next 4 occasions that are coming up this year). Yes, when he handed me the present he said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Birthday, Anniversary & Hanukkah”. I’m absolutely fine with this, as long as he still gets me cards and flowers.
So, let’s talk about this camera for a second, before I get to the recipe that’s on here today.
It literally does EVERYTHING. The problem is, I have no idea how to use it. As with my first real DSLR, I just chalk everything up to practice. I mean, practice does make perfect, right? I’m definitely not ashamed to admit that I have no clue how to operate this beast. It’s heavy duty and is the REAL DEAL. First things first, there is touch screen on this thing. Uh huh, super cool.
Secondly, it has the nicest shutter sound I’ve ever heard. It clicks with class. What can I say? I’m in LOVE.
Now, for those who have asked me how I shoot my food photos……
Some simple food photography and general tips and then I promise to get to the sticky business of this chicken.
- Manual Mode – If you are going to be handling a camera of this caliber, it’s a punishable crime to set your camera to AUTO. Set it to M or P. You’re a real photographer now, come on.
- Aperture – What does this mean? Simply put, depth of field. The best aperture to shoot with is the one that will have a depth of field deep enough for your subject to be in focus. Let me explain. A large aperture is a smaller number, and a small aperture is actually a high number. Example: f/1.4 is a LARGE aperture f/10 is a SMALL aperture. Got it? Great! What it does. A larger aperture (i.e. f/1.4) creates a halo effect in your photos where one point is in focus and the rest is blurred. The technical term for this is “bokeh.” Oh my gawd, I’m obsessed with bokeh. It draws the viewer’s eye exactly where you want it and gives the rest of the photo the illusion of soft fluffiness. If you don’t want the whole photo in clear focus, bokeh is your best friend. Ethereal and sultry comes to mind with this setting. Or for me, it’s the AHHHHHHHH moment. A smaller aperture (example. f/10), on the other hand, creates a crisp and clear focus where everything is in plain sight – no ifs, ands or buts. This forces you to take it all in – every single detail and delectable morsel of food. This is helpful for overhead or flat lay shots, when you want to focus on all the whole shebang equally. I do a ton of flat lay shots and can’t wait to show you a special project that I’m working on for a very large retailer in the USA. I’m so excited I could scream.
- Shutter Speed – A simple way of explaining shutter speed is the length of time the camera shutter stays open to allow light into the camera. With aperture, it is how big (or small) the aperture is that determines how much light comes into the camera. Shutter speed is measured in seconds or fractions of seconds such as 1/8000, 1/4000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, 4, etc. The larger the number = the faster the shutter speed. How it works? If it’s not so bright and you need more light in your photograph, then you will need a slower shutter speed so that the shutter remains open for longer to let more light into your camera. Confused? Think window coverings. When the sun is shining and it is very bright, you would close the curtains partially, completely or use a photography light diffuser and use a faster shutter speed for less light. Cheat sheet: Faster shutter speed = Shutter is open for less time = Less light” and “Slower shutter speed = Shutter is open for longer time = More light”. Are we good? Who has already scrolled down to the chicken recipe?
- ISO settings – Easy. Ready? All you need to do is set your ISO to the lighting conditions around you. Here’s the deal.
Bright light = ISO 100-400
Low light = ISO 400-1600
Very low light = ISO 1600-6400.
BUT haaaaaaaang on for a second. For food photography, you always want sharp, detailed shots and here’s the trick. The lower the ISO the crisper the image. As the ISO setting gets higher, the sharpness of the shot gets sketchy and the last thing you want is a grainy photo. Quick tip but not a cheap fix? The more $ you spent on your camera, the better your pictures will be at high ISO ratings. Bring on the Canon 5D Mark IV, where you have the capability of setting your ISO to 32,000. Crazy right? This thing doesn’t take a bad picture, no matter how hard you try. BOOM!
SHOOTING IN THE RAW – and no this doesn’t mean you are a naked photographer. Why should you shoot RAW files when photographing food? Well, it’s like this. RAW files produce a much higher quality starting point for your photos. They are clean, mean and more accurate than if you fooled around with them in JPEG form and after the fact in a photo-editing program.
- Post editing – Here’s where I’m going to shock you. I have been editing all my photo’s in GOOGLE Snapseed. It’s a super easy and handy app that I downloaded four years ago. I know. I know. Lightroom is the GO TO app for most food photographers. Here’s the scoop. I’m willing to cross over to Lightroom 6 now. With the caliber of camera I’m using, Snapseed just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Why use Lightroom? Even if you are a lousy photographer and can’t be bothered with all the bells and whistles associated with Manual Mode, editing in Lightroom will be your saving grace. Editing your photos from “just ok” to “wowza” is the key behind this software tool. Do it. You won’t be sorry.
And finally, let’s get down to this sticky cranberry chicken. All I have to say is this. DEELISH.
Oh wait. One more thing. Next week, I’m going to give you some of my behind the scenes secrets to styling, props and DIY’s to make your food photography POP. YAY!
- 8 chicken thighs or drumsticks, seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- Thyme sprigs
- ½ cup sweet barbeque sauce (I used honey garlic)
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup cranberry juice
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon maple flavoured mustard (any mustard is fine as well)
- 1 heaping tablespoon dark brown sugar
- Whisk glaze ingredients in a small pot over medium heat and bring to a slow boil. Stir constantly until all sugar is dissolved and sauce is nice and thick. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a large oven safe or cast iron skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Pan fry chicken until golden brown on both sides but not cooked through. Don’t overcrowd the pan and drain off any fat or liquid.
- Pour glaze over chicken pieces and top with cranberries and thyme.
- Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until chicken is done. Drain off any additional liquid that has accumulated during the baking process. Serve hot.