If you love to share photos of amazing food on social media then it’s important to take a great shot which does your meal justice.
These days most of us are quick to reach for our phones when dinner is served, to capture the moment with the perfect food shot. Yet, even with a great smartphone camera like that on Samsung’s Galaxy S8 you can’t just fire off a quick happy snap and hope for the best, you need to develop an eye for detail.
So, how can you take the perfect photo?
Lighting is crucial, as you want to avoid using the camera flash at close range which can leave your shot looking overblown and the food rather unappetising. Natural light is best, which is why if often pays to grab the table by the window. If you’re stuck with artificial light then try to avoid harsh shadows – particularly watch for shadows falling across your food, which can be a challenge if the ceiling is covered in downlights. Also watch out if coloured lights changed the colour balance of the picture, so your whites don’t quite look white.
Give some thought to your camera angle, don’t be afraid to experiment. Most foodies favour overhead shots but you don’t want your phone to cast a shadow on the food. Try to avoid using your smartphone’s digital zoom, you’ll get a sharper picture if you simply move the camera closer to the subject.
Zooming in also makes it more difficult to avoid camera shake if you have unsteady hands. If you’re serious about your food photography you might even carry a little smartphone-friendly tripod in your carry bag.
Once you’re feeling confident, feel free to get creative, such as shooting slightly off-centre or from an angle rather than directly above. Once again, watch out for awkward shadows and unwanted reflections. Also, try to minimise clutter in the foreground and background, although you might want to spice up the image with strategically placed props such as condiments and utensils.
Next, think about focus and exposure. These days most smartphone cameras offer automatic focus and exposure, simply tap on the most important object in the frame to help ensure that it looks sharp and isn’t lost in the highlights or shadows. Try to avoid bright windows or other light sources in the background, if it can’t be helped – or it’s a deliberate artistic choice – then you might need to override the automatic exposure to ensure the food isn’t lost in the dark. Take care using High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, as it’s more prone to camera shake than standard mode, and can also see you lose some fine detail.
When you’re ready to take your photography skills to the next level, start to consider depth of field – which basically means how much of the photo is in super-sharp focus. Sometimes a shallow depth of field is a good thing, softening up the background to remove distractions from the picture and making the food the real hero of the image.
Advanced features such as “selective focus” can let you adjust the depth of field after you’ve taken your shot. You can also use bokeh filters to help soften the background, although the results don’t always look as good as if you have adjusted the depth of field when taking the shot.
If this is all a bit outside the range of your photographic skills, the new Galaxy S8 comes with a ‘food mode’, which puts the food in focus and creates warmer tones in the image, bringing to life your meal.
Once you’ve captured your culinary masterpiece you can tweak it on your phone to help it look its best. You might adjust the brightness and contrast to allow for dull lighting, as well as apply food-specific filters to help perk up the colours.
With a practiced eye, you’ll manage to “get it right in camera” and keep post-production to a minimum when capturing mouth-watering photos of your favourite meals.