February 5, 2013   By Kelly Bejelly

favorite phiotography tools

1. Plate to Pixel 2. Adobe Lightroom 4 3. Sigma 50mm 1.4  4. Neewer Light Reflector 5. Manfrotto MKC3-H01

First, I am by no means any kinda expert when it comes to photography but I have really worked hard to improve my food  photos.    When I first got serious about my photos I bought a Canon T2i.    My first photo that was accepted to Foodgawker and Tastespotting was taken with the kit lens.  This is the photo:

PALEO RECIPE ICEE

Now when you compare that to the first food photo that graced my site you can see a difference:

PALEO CINNAMON ROLLS

 

So what was the big change?

1.  Plate to Pixel!! Read the book and study the images.  What makes the food look good?  How does color and light make the dish pop?  Do you notice any repetitions?  How does color in the props help the food?  I still have a lot of work to do but this book seriously gave me the knowledge to improve my photos.

2. I love me some Lightroom.  Holy moly it makes a huge difference in your photos.  Here’s a before/after of a giraffe I took at the zoo on a gloomy Portland day.

beforeafter

Lightroom is not magic and it won’t make a bad photo better but it will give you a boost in low light situations as well as tweak other color issues in your photo.

 

3.  I splurged during the Black Friday sales and bought a Sigma 50mm 1.4 and I LOVE it!  I have a super dark kitchen (Cave) and on a dreary rainy Portland day  the last thing I want to do is go outside to shoot.  I took this photo with window light only.

Paleo Dessert Peppermint Bark

 

4. I love my reflector.  I have two that I use to bounce light around during my food shoots to help bring out the shadows and highlight the food.  You can also use them to filter light.

5.  When I first started taking photos I bought the cheapest tripod I could find and I HATED it.  On the first day I owned it 11-month-old Little grabbed the leg and bent it.  I later ended up accidentally ripping the ball head off.  Yeah.   Anyhow I was not going to go through that again so I searched high and low for a quality tripod under $75 and found the Manfrotto MCK3.  Simply Love! I highly recommend it.

 

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25 Comments

  • February 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I definitely need me some reflectors. I’m ghetto and I wrap tin foil around a cupcake pan (I use that so it can stand up on its own!). It works great but of course being a pro with real reflectors would be ideal.

    Can I ask they the tripod though?

    • February 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

      LOVE my tripod … with it, I can lower the shutter speed and capture even more light than I could with just holding it. Mine has an arm that goes out so I can take photos in weird cramped spaces if need be.

      And, I have those same reflectors and the diffuser. Adore them.

    • February 5, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Rachel’s answer is spot on. When I’m in low light, I shake too much and can’t get a clear photo. Also, I can set up a shot and set the camera on auto and then move around and bounce light on the food when the camera is taking photos.

  • February 5, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Do you recommend a nifty 50 lens over say a 55-200mm?

    • February 5, 2013 at 11:58 am

      You know, I love the lens but it did take me a second to get used to the fact that I have to move to get a photo framed correctly versus simple adjusting the lens. It’s really fast though which I love since I had such a tough time getting clear photo or my son with the kit lens. Really I think it boils down to what you’re going to use the lens for. There are some gorgeous photos from the 55-200mm lens on flickr so for the price it looks like it can’t be beat and it has the versatility of the zoom.

  • February 5, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I’m currently using a 50mm/1.8 Thinking of upgrading to the 1.4

  • February 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I have that book but I haven’t had the chance to dig through it yet! I really need to take the time.

    • February 6, 2013 at 10:35 am

      Yikes 🙂 I haven’t bought anything since I bought the lens as the price tag was hefty but I seriously love it.

  • February 6, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Now that I am really working on my food photography, I am definitely gonna buy Plate to Pixel, I keep hearing that it’s awesome!

    • February 6, 2013 at 10:34 am

      It’s an awesome book and so helpful Jenn.

  • February 6, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I’m going to check out your recommendation for the tripod and reflector, I need those!

  • February 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I agree, I love that book and I love my lightroom (got it for my birthday I think it was). I want a reflector too.

  • February 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    I love that icee photo! I think when you posted that, it was the first time I visited your blog so I remember it! 🙂 I’ve been editing my photos in Photoshop, but I just downloaded the Lightroom trial on my new computer–now I need to learn how to use it!

  • February 6, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I need to check out that Pixel book.

  • February 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    What great tips. I am off to check some of them out.

  • February 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I just got a manfrotto tripod 🙂 I have a 50mm lens and need to get reading my this book I have it somewhere! Baby has taken over this house lol

  • February 7, 2013 at 8:55 am

    *sigh* I have photo envy, lol. I want all of that stuff, lol.

  • February 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    sometimes I take so many photos cause I’m trying to find the right setting it gts crazy i could use something like that

  • February 8, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I love my 50mm lens and need to invest in a tripod. I was just reading a review on a Manfrotto.