Food Photography & Styling Workshop with Meeta K. Wolff & Jeanne Horak-Druiff
No, there isn’t a new Foodtastic Magazine out – this cover was just the result of my Food Photography & Styling Workshop task in Venice last weekend. How great is it to combine a workshop like this with a nice holiday in the Italian vineyards and beautiful Venice. That’s what I love about the Meeta K. Wolff Workshops – she always chooses different destinations. I alternated between Berlin and Venice but as I have been to Berlin quite a few times now but never to Venice I thought this would be the place to be for my next food photography workshop.
Meeta not only chooses different locations but also different topics for her courses – so our one in Italy concentrated amongst other things on the topic “Restaurant Photography”. For all these different topics she works together with different experts. This time it was the lovely South African Jeanne Horak-Druiff with her Blog Cook Sister . Both of them call themselves dinosaurs in the blogging world as they started almost ten years ago. Back then they were one out of the ten bloggers worldwide. Hats off!
Meetas next workshop in Helsinki will also focus on artificial light as well as natural light (as you know, Finland has long days and much light in summer but in winter light is very limited). The Berlin workshop will concentrate on taking pictures with Smartphones. The last workshop this year well be in Dubai in September. Have a look on her Website What’s for lunch honey and get hooked.
When I decided to be part of this workshop, my friend Monika immediately crossed my mind. She is a very talented photographer, who started taking pictures with a DSLR when she was about 14 years old and never stopped since. She just started her lovely blog Monica meets where she posts amazing travel pictures. On her site you can also have a look on beautiful Venice at night. You will also find some great day shots of the city. My Venice pics (not the workshop ones) were only taken with my iphone as I unfortunately forgot to put my memory card back into my DSLR. Probably the most annoying thing that possible can happen to a photographer – probably it happened to all of us before.
Well, back to the trip and our great workshop… Monika and I decided to drive down to Italy by car. What I loved most about it – it was an old school red Audi convertible from the 80ies. Bring it on! We started our trip on the 1st of May – many stops and 10 hours later we arrived at the beautiful and picturesque vine hills of Italy. Valdobbiadene, the little town were we stayed at, is very famous for it’s amazing Prosecco. Don’t ask how many glasses of Prosecco we had daily. I never tried such good Prosecco before. It was just divine!
The workshop started on Friday morning where we learned everything about the camera and how it works as well as food styling. Although this wasn’t new to me, it’s always good to repeat the information anyway.
Some handy slides and information for all the photographers that have just started photography or want to start soon. That’s how Jeanne explained it on her slides.
Changing the shutter speed changes the length of time that the shutter remains open to the light
Changing the shutter speed controls two things:
1.) The lightness/darkness of your picture
Longer/slow shutter speed = more light = lighter picture
Shorter/fast shutter speed = less light = darker picture
2.) How much blur is in your picture
longer/slow shutter speed = more blurry photos
shorter/fast shutter speed = sharp, clear photos
Changing the aperture controls how wide the shutter opens to receive light
Important to remember is that the smaller the number, the bigger the opening
Changing the aperture controls two things
1.) the lightness/darkness of your picture
larger aperture = more light = lighter picture
smaller aperture = less light = darker photos
2.) the depth of field (how much your picture is in focus)
larger aperture = a very small part of the picture is in focus
smaller aperture =almost all of your picture is in focus
Controlling the aperture is also the creative control of your picture. Do you only want to show the important front piece of something and make the rest blurry or to you want to have everything in focus? It’s the control of depth of field. Maybe use the rule of the thirds – it helps you to find focus and placement. Also control the distance of camera and motive.
When you start taking pictures with a DSLR it’s always better to start with the programs AV (this is how I started – here you can control the aperture) or TV (here you can control the shutter speed). I am full on manual and I always take my pictures in RAW. A raw image file is not processed yet and therefore can’t be printed. You have to process it first. They are also called digital natives, as they fulfil the same role as negatives in analogue photography. The negative is not directly usable as an image but it has all the information needed to create an image. So therefore it’s not the end of the world if your pictures got too dark – you can fix it afterwards. The correct white balance is also very important when you take pictures: I always shoot in automatic white balance but if you are in a dark room with artificial light it is important to change it to tungsten or to put in the correct Kelvin number.
Same as Meeta and Jeanne, I always use natural light for my pictures. You have to pay attention of where the light comes from. Taking food pictures close to a big window on a cloudy day is the best. Meeta told us that the distance of light in relation to the subject determines the softness or harshness of light. Never mix artificial and natural light – only use on type of light for your food photos. Backlight is the perfect light for food photography as it adds textures and depth. Side light scrapes the surface of the food to enhance the texture. It gives it a more dramatic look as it creates shadows. Meeta also told us it is good to work with color palettes. I never tried it out so far, but I will definitely get started on it.
What I recently found out about props is that there are fabrics out there with wooden prints on it. I think this is super handy and I am definitely getting a few different ones (dark, light etc.).
After the first theoretical part we continued on our second day with a group competitions. The task was called “Strada del prosecco” and we had to shoot 4 different pictures, including following:
- A restaurant shot
- An action shot
- A location shot (food, the villa, etc.)
- A product shot of the Prosecco Primo Franco
I had to fulfil the task with Matt Clark from Scotland as well as Valentina Probst from Miami.
We also got a food magazine and one of the tasks was, to create a food picture similar to one of the food photos out of the magazine. Matt, who is great in photoshop, created with on of my food photos a magazine cover that looked just like the one we had to copy. I changed the title to foodtastic.
Here are our four pictures (out of these pictures the one with the strawberry glass is mine, as well as the ice cream one on the chair, the Prosecco product shot as well as the right action shot of the lovely Dacotha who is responsible for the UK press/media for Ninco Franco). Nino Franco is a beautiful wine farm in Valdobbiadene. Matt took the great black and white picture with the glasses and Valentina the fantastic shot of Primo Franco.
We were very lucky and got invited by the owner Primo Franco to his stunning Villa Barberina in the Italian vineyards. We spent the whole day there wondering around, taking pictures, eating and drinking Prosecco.
After the two days at the workshop, we continued our journey to Venice, where we spent one night and half a day. Here are some iphone pictures of the beautiful day we had. Monika and I found a very cool place, called the Stickhouse, where they sell ice cream on a stick in heaps of different flavours. The great thing about it is that it’s all gluten-free and once you ordered your favourite flavour you can choose a yummy topic such as chocolate and two different nut toppings. What a pity that we don’t have a shop like this in Vienna.
I loved the four days in Italy with Monika, a great companion, as well as two great lectures Meeta and Jeanne. Thanks so much to you guys!
Some Venice pics taken with my iphone: