I had some requests on my Seattle post about taking photos in restaurants, particularly ones with dark light, so I thought I'd do a post about it. It's almost Thanksgiving, after all, and what better time for some food photography!
First off, I am not a photographer.
Second off, I am not a photography expert.
I am just someone who loves to take photos, enjoys photographing meals, and would like to share some tips. I adore food blogs, food publications, and it makes me happy to see people eating or what they ate. I just like it. So please eat, shoot, and share!!!
I use a Canon 7D and a Canon G11 point + shoot - both of these shoot in RAW and this is the biggest tip I can give you. When you shoot in RAW and open the file in the Adobe Camera Raw program, you're able to easily white balance the photo by clicking on something white in the photo. This makes a huge difference for when you're shooting in low or weird lighting. It doesn't make your photo perfect, but I'll show you how I make adjustments.
If I know I'm going somewhere dark, I'll use my fixed lens that goes down to a f/1.4 - the lower the aperture and the higher the ISO, the faster the shutter speed and the higher the odds I'll get a well focused image. I like the G11 p+s because you can adjust the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed on this little camera.
If you're shooting in a dark place with a very high ISO, you're going to get grain in your photos, there's no way around it. Embrace the cool look it can give to your images.
Just order dessert. That's a given. But people look the happiest, and will be more willing to smile for your photos, when they're eating dessert.
For this post I'm using photos I took at dinner at Primitivo... the lighting was dark and we pretty much ate by candlelight. These needed a lot of editing, but I'm happy with the results since it was so dark in there.
This is Amy and a delicious lamb chop, straight out of the camera. Needs help, right?
Both of my cameras RAW files currently need to be converted to DNG files, which I downloaded a program to easily do. I open the DNG file in the Camera Raw program, which came in my Adobe Creative Suite. Here the first thing I do is select the white balance eye dropper and click on something that is supposed to be white in the image.
The next thing I do is brighten or add fill light to the photo. Then I add in a little bit of vibrance or saturation. Sometimes I will adjust the brightness here, but I tend to not mess with the other settings too much.
On the color settings, which is the fourth tab from the left, you can adjust how much color shows up in your photo. My camera tends to pull red really heavily, so I pull down the saturation. You can do the same for the hue. The last thing I do before opening the photo in Photoshop is crop or straighten it. There is a level tool at the top of Camera Raw which helps you draw a line to straighten and crop the photo.
Once it's opened as a JPEG in Photoshop it's a lot better, but I still process my photos with actions to get them looking just how I want them. I don't mind overprocessed photos, just like food everyone has their own tastebuds.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I hopes this helps you a little bit on how to take and edit photos in dark lit situations. Eat, shoot, enjoy, and blog about it!