My reaction to this has always been to cringe, my mind racing to the gear I don’t have, the poor light or a million other excuses. This is all part of why people need a professional photographer to take their images for them and why we always get better results.
This precise scenario arose recently with a friend wanting some images of the great food produced by their kitchens to promote their restaurant. Food photography is well known as quite a difficult area of photography to get right.
The gear I had was just my SLR and flash gun. Not the ideal setup and with the images to be shot in the kitchens themselves, during a busy food service just before the food went out to the diners, the pressure was going to be on!
Overall I was really pleased with the images I produced, especially as I had no time for prep and considering that in a normal commercial arrangement I would have insisted on completely different conditions for the shoot.
- Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling (texaskitchen.wordpress.com)
- Best Food Photography (detectiveswearglasses.wordpress.com)
- Bad Restaurant Food Photography – Brooklyn Edition (coedmagazine.com)
- Food Photography (photographyfraud.wordpress.com)
- Why is food photography so expensive? (foodservicewarehouse.com)
Sometimes the best joke is the worst one …
Over the last couple of weeks I have been uploading the images that I have been shooting over the last few months of my travels around Australia to the Alamy Stock Library.
I thought that in this post I could share my workflow from loading the images from my camera to my computer and all the way through to the upload to Alamy. This includes the process to edit the images so that they are ready for Alamy’s stringent quality control.
First of all I need to get the images from the camera to my computer, at the same time I add my IPTC Metadata and keywords. To do this I connect the camera via USB cable to my Mac and open Aperture. When Aperture loads I select the import option on the top left of the application. This opens up the import interface and I can select all the photos I wish to import. When the images are selected I can then use the import settings menu on the right hand side. I have set up my Aperture so that all my Australia Images have their own library and each shoot has its own project. This import will go in as a new project. I enter all the information including the caption and keywords, which will correspond with Alamy’s caption and keywords. Having pressed the import button it is generally time to hit the button on the kettle and make a brew whilst Aperture imports and processes all its thumbs and the metadata.
The next stage whittles down the images until I have the images ready to export. To do this I use Aperture’s star rating. My first sweep through the images is the first star sweep. All images that I want to keep get one star. On my first sweep I am only looking at getting rid of only obvious no goers, ie. out of focus, poor exposures or accidental exposures. (of course I never normally have any of these!) The second sweep through the images I do in full screen mode and I only two star the images I definitely want to send to Alamy.
The third sweep through is for editing. All the two star images are checked so the exposures are aesthetically correct, cropped and the white balance is spot on. At this stage it is also a good idea to have another look at your keywords and add any others you wish to add to individual images. I then export the images as Jpegs at original size to a folder on my desktop. Its now time to do an in-depth edit with Photoshop.
When the files have opened in Photoshop the first thing I do is check the levels. When the levels box opens I use the histogram and pull in the edges so that the sliders are in to where the histogram shows data. If there is a significant change to the image I then use curves to make it aesthetically correct. The next thing I sort is the image size.
In finder some of my cropped images show up as 16mb on disk which is below Alamy’s 17MB minimum for upscaling but this is a compressed size. To get the true size go to image size in photoshop and it will tell you the true image size. Alamy’s minimum file size is 24MB but you can upscale a 17MB file up to 24MB. Normally my camera punches in at around 60MB with an image size of 5700×4000. Alamy thinks that the bigger the better and are happy to accept files as big as your camera can make and if I were sending in the images on DVD I would probably send in the images at full res but as I upload my images I reduce the image size to 4000×2667 which gives me a file size of 30.5MB which uploads a lot quicker!
All is not complete though and the next stage is crucial – you have to inspect your image now closely for any imperfections. Zoom all the way in to 100% and scroll across the entire image carefully looking for any imperfections. Some people find it easier to increase the contrast in the image for this step to make the imperfections show up clearer but I rarely do so. Imperfections normally come from dust on the lens or sensor or alternatively from digital noise, I then check that the colour profile is still set to RGB colour save and close the file. I then get online and upload the file to Alamy.
Running on a Thursday and Sunday evening the Mindil Sunset Market is a visitation highlight of Darwin. We decided to drop in on the midweek Thursday market and it was a great evening out. Make sure you take an empty stomach as I have never seen so many food vans in the same place before! From Tai food to kangaroo skewers and everything in between all the food looked amasing and you have plenty of time to make your choice and walk over the dunes to the beach to watch the sunset while you dine.
After the sun had set for the evening we went down into the market and looked at all the local wares that were on offer. The quality of the crafts were high and all the stalls were fantastic, there were tarot card readers and other entertainments as-well. A big thanks to Mick from Micks Whips who helped me achieve #164 on my bucket list “Learn to crack a bull whip” he put on a great display of skill promoting his stall with bull whip tricks.
As the evening got later live music from lots of artists kept the market in full swing and the atmosphere fantastic.
- Darwin- Mindil Beach Night Markets (australiablog.com)
- Things to Do in Darwin (australiablog.com)
- Darwin’s Dry Season Has Begun! – Darwin, Australia (travelpod.com)
After the long drive along the first part of Route 87, Stuart Highway and the detour along the Lasseter Highway to Ayres Rock Resort. We arrived (thanks to daylight savings!) at 3.30pm with plenty of time to check in to the resort’s campsite and get our powered pitch (a special treat after roughing it through the outback!) Ironically this campsite has been the cheapest one of our tour down under so far a bargain at $39 for the two of us and Dori to stay the night.
Leaving Adelaide was bitter sweet, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Mclaren Vale thanks to our Wwoofing hosts Angie and Leon yet it was time to move on. Our next stop was Alice Springs via Uluru, Ayers Rock.
For those of you who read my blog regularly will have noticed a gap in time! It is because we have been staying with Wwoofing hosts Angie and Leon on their farm.
Wwoofing is an acronym for Willing Workers on Organic Farms and we signed up to be Wwoofers not long after we left Phillip Island. For more information on Wwoofing please visit their website.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time working for Angie and Leon in return for our bed and board. We learned many things during our visit from fencing & gardening to looking after their animals and many things in-between and outside of these!
Here are some pictures from our stay!
Adelaide Fringe Festival 2011 was a spectacular affair and was well worth the visit into Adelaide to see it. We went in while the Adelaide Street Theatre Festival was running and spent most of our time watching these side events. The Garden Of Extraordinary Delights was the main centre and focus of the festival and with so many shows happening here and in theatres around Adelaide it was hard to pick just one show to watch. Most of the evening shows were priced at a reasonable $20-$30 and from the reviews flying around town you would be hard pushed to find a bad one!
Based out on the Fleur Peninsula and winner of the Fleurieu Peninsula Tourism Award is the Alexandrina Cheese Company. From their 80 Jersey cows they produce their own range of delicious cheeses. They make all their cheeses onsite which means the best days to visit are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as you can see through the cafe’s clear glass window to where the workers are making the cheese while you tuck into some delicious tastings with the friendly staff.
We were particularly partial to their Mount Jagged Mature Cheddar although their vintage cheddar was equally as good!
Being in South Australia and especially since we are currently staying up above McLaren Valley we thought we should embark on a few tastings. With over 200 Cellar Doors in this region of South Australia, everywhere you go there are vineyards. With the current crop about to be picked there is a big buzz in this region about wines at this time of year.