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 Post subject: Some advice please
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:37 am 
There's a brand new Japanese restaurant opening up in the town that I live (the only one at the moment). I went in and explained that I'm an amateur photographer looking to build up a bit of a portfolio and wondered if they would like any photos taking of their place/food to promote themselves.

As I'm not a professional (and its my first time) I offered to do this for free and said that if they like the photos then they can use them if they want. They said they were potentially interested and to bring my camera along next wednesday (we have a table booked for a meal then) and take some photos and they'll see if the head chef likes them.

I figured it would be a great opportunity for me to get some experience doing this kind of thing and it could potentially be good for them as I'm doing it for free.

The idea sounded fantastic in my head but the practicalities are now kicking in and I need some help. Does anyone have any advice on how I could go about this? I really want to do a good job. Obviously the food that we order would be a good start - Sushi is always good to photograph - but what else might work? Their new restaurant sign hasn't even been put up above the building yet so outdoor shots are probably out.

I'd really appreciate any ideas you guys might have.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:10 pm 
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Bring the strongest flash you can lay your hands on plus think of some white reflective cloth (perhaps a napkin, held by your wife) as a reflector, as restaurants are mostly very dark places...
Take your wide-angle to make their place look spacious plus some shoots outside in at dark, so the interior throughs a warm light-glow on the street.
Candle-light on the table is also a very romantic idea. Don't know how it looks, but you have to improvise.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:08 am 
Thanks tombomba,

I've actually just bought an SB800 for the occasion. I was thinking about trying the SB800 off camera, which would mean using the on-board to trigger it, but I don't really want the harsh shadows the on-board creates. Is there anyway round this?

If I set negative flash exposure to reduce the power of the on-board flash, will this reduce the power for the SB800 as well?


[edit] This is interesting. I've just read this on Ken Rockwells site...
Quote:
The flash of the D70 can't be used to light the final image. In remote wireless commander mode it only controls the remote flash, but doesn't add more than a slight bit of light to the photographed image. When the D70 and D70s built-in flash is used to control other flashes it can't contribute to the exposure. Even with both flashes (built-in and remote) only the remote contributes to the exposure.


Tom, can you confirm if this is true for the D80 as well?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:10 pm 
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Nope. The on-board just gives its light quite normally. But you sure have some ballancing to do in the "power-mix" between the onboard and the remote. Practice a little at home to get used to the settings (not allways intuitive), read the manual and try some shots before the "show"!
Look here at this portrait: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasrubach/478913812
The slave SB-800 was sitting at an alcove to the right, as you can see from the main-shadow behind the face. Still in the face (eft side of the nose) the shadow is not harsh but reduced by the cross-fire from the onboard. I found this lighting very well balanced for a flash-setup!

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Last edited by Thomas on Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:24 am 
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I'd also practice taking manual white balance readings so the colours are ok. In fact also shoot in RAW so you can choose a WB in software afterwards.

If you're shooting food, try photographing some of your meals between now and then and see how it works out - I'd also say a tripod is necessary.

If the plate, or a section of it fills the frame, then you're also talking macro-photography and all the joys that entails - so you could deliberately go for small or larger depth of fields for style reasons.

I'd also look at food magazines and see how they photograph both dishes and restaurant interiors.

Good luck!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:45 pm 
I've just taken receipt of my brand new SB800. Ebay came through for me again and I managed to pick it up for £205 saving a massive £100 so needless to say I am very happy. It's the second time I've ordered from this particular ebay store (kea-photo) and I really recommend them personally. I ordered this last thursday and it arrived today. Brilliant stuff.

tombomba2 wrote:
Nope. The on-board just gives its light quite normally.


Tombomba, in case this is of interest to you; after a bit of reading and playing around in the menu I found that you can actually set the onboard flash so that it doesn't contribute (or only barely) to the exposure. Go into the Commander Mode menu in the camera and change the option next to "Built-in Flash" from "TTL" to "--". On this setting the on board flash only pre-fires to signal the slave.

Anyway, thank you all for the advice. I've got a few days to play around with this flash and try a few things out.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 12:10 pm 
Out of curiousity, wouldnt a Macro be better ?
I mean for taking shots of food.

Am personally not an expert - just a thought.

Feel free to ignore this. :roll:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:48 pm 
Hi TelexStar
How did your shoot go ?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:35 pm 
It didn't go too badly actually. While I made some mistakes, I was pleased with the outcome all and all.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/benmoscrop/1475992299/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benmoscrop/1476844312/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benmoscrop/1475991895/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benmoscrop/1475990321/


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:48 pm 
Thanks.. does look tricky, doesn't it ?
Personally I would have thought shooting vertically down or at a angle 10-20 degrees off centre.
So what's the hardest part ?
The shooting then eating or
eating and shooting ? :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:54 am 
Nice pictures TelexStar, it looks very professional!

Will you give us some of your tips at this? Keep Me Posted!

b.t.w. Did you use your 50mm f1.8?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 10:17 am 
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DavidL wrote:
Thanks.. does look tricky, doesn't it ?
Personally I would have thought shooting vertically down or at a angle 10-20 degrees off centre.
So what's the hardest part ?
The shooting then eating or
eating and shooting ? :wink:


It's the leaving that's difficult, lol.

Zorro 8)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:13 pm 
fearless leader wrote:
Nice pictures TelexStar, it looks very professional!

Will you give us some of your tips at this? Keep Me Posted!

b.t.w. Did you use your 50mm f1.8?


I didn't get to use the 50mm at all, which I kind of suspected would be the case.

Tips; Tripod. I don't have one yet so I had to shoot this hand held but having one would have made this much easier. Mainly because you don't have to rely on the flash so much and as the food doesn't move (usually) you have a lot more options with slower shutter speeds to make use the the ambient light. Also (this is probably obvious), make sure the table has room for your flash (if you're using it remotely) and the tripod. Restaurant tables are notoriously small because it looks nice and they squeeze more tables in. This doesn't make it very good for photography however. Try and get a slightly bigger table than what you think you need although this will usually be up to the restaurant. Finally, take a small white cloth if you can. The tables in this place had a horrible plastic grey marble effect on them. A simple cloth will give you control of the background of your food.

Incidentally, I got a call back from the Japanese place and they would like me to come in and take some more shots of some main courses. eeek! :shock: I'm glad they liked them but I hadn't expected this at all!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:33 pm 
Nice pictures TelexStar. Your adventure was very interesting. I'd never given much thought to this kind of photography until the CameraLabs assignment which brought this kind of lighting and orientation into play. You seem to have figured it out well. My personal concern would be that you are not including the edge of the plate in your shot. Perhaps this because, as you said, the table cloth was a poor background. However, I think the plate acts as a frame for the meal -- when chefs prepare dishes, they often select a particullar size or shape of plate for accent.

Also, when you first announced what you intended to do, I expected to see shots of the interior of the resteraunt (people eating, or as Gordon mentioned, the front of the resteraunt, etc). Have you given thought to that?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 10:57 am 
BrianS wrote:
My personal concern would be that you are not including the edge of the plate in your shot. Perhaps this because, as you said, the table cloth was a poor background. However, I think the plate acts as a frame for the meal -- when chefs prepare dishes, they often select a particullar size or shape of plate for accent.


Thanks BrianS. You're absolutely right. The problem with the Sushi plates in this case was that they were very long and thin which made it complicated to photograph. I could either take a wider shot, getting the whole plate in and lose the intimacy with the food or get up close to the food and cut off the plate. It wasn't ideal.

The restaurant asked me to come in last night and photograph 20 dishes that the chef had prepared. The photos I took capture the whole plate as that's what the client wanted (I'll post the results a bit later on). All I can say is... what a fantastic experience! The manager and the Chef were *so* nice. As our "payment" my wife and I probably got to eat about £100 worth of sushi and other Japanese dishes ( :D ). The whole experience, working with the client, was really enlightening - suggesting ideas, taking a few shots and showing them and then trying something else to give them what they wanted. Only on digital would this have been possible and it made for a really reactive experience.


BrianS wrote:
Also, when you first announced what you intended to do, I expected to see shots of the interior of the resteraunt (people eating, or as Gordon mentioned, the front of the resteraunt, etc). Have you given thought to that?


That was my plan in the beginning but on the original night I went in they hadn't even received their sign for the front of the building so outside shots seemed pointless. Inside, the place was quite empty at the time so the atmosphere wasn't there. Then when I got the callback, they were quite specific about what they wanted (food to show in the window/menus) so I stuck to that.

I don't think they're finished yet either. They want me to come back again for some more shots. :shock: This is so much more than what I was expecting.


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