Monday, 23 May 2011

Good Morning Alor Setar.. Lets try manual white balance...

Date: 25 Apr 2011
Event: Outstation works
Location: Alor Setar, Kedah
I was in Alor Setar last month for some works and stayed in the Holiday Villa hotel.  Every morning, after Subuh, I enjoyed the beautiful view of the town with Alor Setar Tower at one side and part of Gunung Jerai at the backround, prior to the sunrise.  To capture these moments, I've tried to catch it by playing different white balance (Customise) instead of the AWB (Auto Wide Balance) based on lesson taught by Masta Lufiahs.

Firstly, I set the white balance to the lower end at about 3000 Kelvin (K).  Notice on the 'bluish' colour or cold feeling of the picture as a result of this.

Alor Setar in Blue.

Next, I set the white balance to the upper limit at around 5500K.  Take note on the 'yellowish/orange' or warm mood of the picture.  Please ignore the several dirt on the pictures as this was taken behind the hotel's glass window.

 Alor Setar in Orange.

Finally, I've tried several shots by lowering several hundred kelvins at one time until I get the kind of mood that I want which produced the following.
The 165m Alor Setar Tower.

Kind of easy right... Let try yourself when you go for shooting next time around...

Special credit to Masta Lufiahs for his simple but easy to understand 'tutorial' that finally make this happen.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Learning Food Photography

Date: 14 May 2011
Event: Alpha Food Photography Workshop
Location: Social@KL, G Tower Hotel, Jln. Tun Razak, KL

 Group photo with other participants, En. Azhar & John, the organiser. (Photo credit to John Shum, Sony Malaysia)
I've got a chance to attend a workshop on Food Photography organised by Sony Malaysia recently for Alpha users.  Held at a swanky Social@KL restaurant, in G Tower hotel, we've been given few lessons on how to shoot food photography more effectively by a professional food photographer, En. Azhar Ariff.  He is the Managing Photographer of Fotomomo Studio and one of the photographer for Time Out KL and Expatriate Lifestyle magazines.

 The 4 dishes.
During this workshop, we've been given the chances to shoot 4 dishes specially prepared by the restaurant. 
 Azhar is busy setting up the lights for the shots.
En. Azhar started with some basic knowledge on food photography.  There are 3 types of food photography:
    a. Packaging
    b. Advertising
    c. Editorial 

The 1st two would normally require every details of the foods to be seen while the last would allow for shallow depth-of-field kind of shots.

 The setup used for the 1st dish.  The Mac Pro notebook wasn't part of it and was meant to show the sample shot taken earlier by the pro on the same dish.
The angle of shots could be from 3 different positions:
   a. Standing
   b. Table-level
   c. Aerial/Top.

Light and shadow positions are important aspects for food photography. Always ensure the food is shot with shadow facing towards the camera as shown below.  It appears that we would require several trial and error steps to get the best shadow positions and 'reasonable' lighting for the shot.

  My shot on the 1st dish.
Another tip is don't forget to start with an insurance shot which is a 'loose' shot without any cropping of the food and its plate.  We could crop this shot later in case the rest of the shots are not good.

 My good insurance shot as praised by En. Azhar.
Also, it is safe to mostly filled the frame and avoid empty spaces around it.  For the food arrangement, always focus the shot on the main item on the food, in this case, the tuna, instead on the condiments and cheese flakes around it as below.

 Fill the frame.

In addition, it is good to vary our shots with both vertical (portrait) or horizontal(landscape) orientation.
 Vertical orientation shot.

For food on rectangular plate, it is better to have the close-up of the food rather than shot of the entire plate.
 Food on rectangular plate.


 An Aerial shot of food.

A Table-level shot of food.

In a nutshell, I've learn quite a lot from the pro on a very niche area of photography.  Thank you very much to En. Azhar who always willing to share tips and tricks on food photography as well as provide good critics on the shots we had.

One final tips he had given was:
Sometimes, the food we have is not as presentable as we wanted. Therefore, food photo retouching can also "beautify" the shot. Retouching involves cleaning up messy plate liners, spills, and food imperfections.