May 032015
 

Photo copyright Alicia Dean

When I looked at different photographs of products, one that stood out to me was the classic cereal photography that looked super crisp and clean and it would make your mouth water looking at it. When I photographed this, I wanted people to see this as not only edible but makes your mouth water looking at it. I was inspired to photograph this because we normally don’t see the beauty in such things and after seeing this image, it inspired me to see objects in a whole new light. The way I photographed this was to specifically photograph the top part of the bowl as well as the spoon drawing your eye into the bowl and into the cereal which helps with leading you around the image itself. The bowl itself also allows you also to center your focus because of the circle surrounding the cereal. When photographing this image, I used an f-stop of 10 due to the amount of light within this shot. The exposure time when photographing this image was exactly 1/125th of a second due to the amount of light within this image and also I had an ISO of 100 which gave this image the proper lighting I needed.

Furthermore, I used a mounted flash that I bounced off of the white paper background to add a back light to the image as well as the overhead lights in my kitchen alongside a desk lamp that I used as a warm fill light. The camera that I used is my own personal camera which is a Canon Rebel T3 with a Sunpack flash. The lens I used for this was the kit lens that the camera came with and the focal length that I used my lens at was 37mm. After taking roughly 30 images of this, I finally found the perfect image that needed very minimal editing. When looking at the original image, it was a little bit too dark so I boosted up the exposure giving it a bit of a lighter feeling, also I edited the warmth in the image since it was too prominent so I gave the warmth a bit of a cooler tone. Finally I edited the background with the line from where the different boards connected and lightened the shadows and removed a line that entered on one of the sides of the image making it look weird. Finally, the image felt more complete and has become my favorite of all time.

About the Photographer:
My name is Alicia Dean and I have loved photography for a very long time, but I mostly got into it because photography inspired me and gave me so much creative inspiration. Most of what I do is that I am both a Graphic Designer as well as a photographer. The subjects that I prefer personally are portrait and landscape photography and the processes and techniques I use are mostly minor touches giving it that more natural feeling. The main reason as to why my work is different from others is that I see things for their pure beauty and try not to post process as much. My future goals are to expand my creativity and my photography and produce lots of beautiful photography for those to share my love.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at http://youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/3rd-annual-northern-arizona-university-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/Please take a minute to leave your insights and constructive comments in the Comment section below – the student would love to hear from you!

Jan 162013
 

I have to spill the coffee beans…

This may be hard for some of you to believe, but…
I used to photograph food professionally. 

GASP!!

Not one to turn down a good challenge, I began shooting cuisine in late 2007 after seeing a stock call for “southwestern recipes” from a calendar company more famous for its landscape photography, and naively said, “Hmmm, that could be fun!”

For the three years that followed, fun it was as my husband, Craig, and I worked together to produce not one, not two, but three exclusive Southwest Cooking calendars.  In between developing new recipes and buying props for the calendars, I wrote restaurant reviews for a number of publications, including Arizona Highways magazine, who published my first restaurant article on one of our favorite spots in Arizona, The Cliff Dwellers Restaurant in Marble Canyon, called “Remote Possibilities.”  I also managed to collect a broad variety of commercial clients across Arizona to help with their advertising needs.

The food photography business was great on the pocketbook, but not so great for nurturing the soul of a nature lover – or for the booty, let’s be honest.  So in 2011, I stopped shooting alluring appetizers, enticing entrees, and delectable desserts to focus entirely on what I loved most, the Great Outdoors.

Though I’m no longer a shutterbug of sushi, I don’t regret spending those years getting a different flavor of photography.  In fact, I believe it’s made me a better nature photographer, as I still incorporate many of the techniques learned while photographing food during my outdoor escapades.  Specifically:

  1. Fleeting moments in nature disappear as quickly as fresh ice cream melts under hot lights.  For a single recipe featured in our calendars, we spent six to eight hours developing the recipe, arranging props, deciding on color schemes, and designing the set – “visualizing” – and only a few seconds photographing the final scene…which is about as long as most food looks edible in a studio setting.  Similarly, Mother Nature may only give us a few seconds to record “the” shot so prepare yourself for that special moment by drawing on paper or creating a picture in your mind of what you resulting photograph will look like – before snapping the shutter.
  2. If a photograph is truly worth 100o words, don’t use just 999 of them to convey your message.  During the extensive set designing process, we intentionally and precisely placed every single sesame seed, slice of lime, and sprinkle of cilantro in an exact location.  Before snapping the shutter, we studied every corner, the edges of the frame, and the visual relationship between the elements to ensure the scene appeared exactly as we wanted to convey exactly what we wanted.  Although changing moments in nature sometimes don’t allow a six to eight hour review of your composition, scan your frame before making the image to ensure you haven’t inadvertently included out of focus branches, overly lit areas on the edges of your frame, or anything else distracting from delivering a clear visual message.
  3. If the sesame seed doesn’t stay where you want when you move it, glue it.  Besides superglue, I’ve used glycerin, hairspray, soapy water, motor oil, mirrors, and a host of other hidden props to make a plate of food look presentable.  No matter your subject, once you have a clear vision, do whatever it takes to make it a reality (within legal and ethical boundaries, that is).  Put a shower cap over your lens to create an ethereal mood, hire a pilot to help you get an aerial perspective, or use a tongue-switch for hands-free operation of your camera while riding a bike (you’d be amazed at the stories you can tell about using a tongue switch!).  Being a persistent, creative problem solver pays off.  I’m currently imagining using the Cloud Machine to resolve my clear blue sky “dilemma.”
  4. Like a smooth, buttery Chardonnay, rocks, trees, and water don’t bite, so get closer.  If you think you’re close enough, if feasible, take two steps forward while keeping the same focal length of lens on your camera to eliminate extraneous details and keep your visual message clear.  Note:  Wildlife and people can bite so attach a teleconverter to a longer focal length lens instead of trying to get in their face.
  5. A normal-sized tostada looks more tantalizing on a tiny plate than on a big plate.  By tweaking proportions, we were able to draw attention to what seemed to be an abundant and attractive portion size.  When you aim to modify the relative size of natural objects, tap into the perspective distortion a wide-angle lens offers to make a bush or other object in the foreground look excessively large in comparison to its surroundings.  Or use a telephoto lens to compress two distant objects, making them seem closer together than they truly exist.

Have you recently tried photographing something outside your comfort zone?  What experiences and learnings have you had in photographing something other than the outdoors that eventually affected your nature photography?  We’d love to hear your stories and tips in the comments below!

zp8497586rq