Wonderful, glorious, food surely is the meaning of life. Yet once we eat it, it’s gone forever. That is unless we capture it in photographs, immortalizing our sumptuous meals to enjoy for all of time.
Too much? Okay, I’m overselling it. However, you probably agree with me that food is much more than fuel for the body. Bordering on art, food is an integral part of our lives that brings us together with family and friends. Food is about sharing. So why not savor the memory and share some pictures of food?
There are three places you are likely to take a picture of food: In a restaurant, outside, or in a photo studio/home. If you’re shooting in the studio or your home, you should use a DSLR. A modern DSLR will always be better than any smartphone due to its superior sensor and lens size. With the freedom to control lighting, mount your camera on a tripod, and take as much time as you need, the DSLR is a worthy investment you need to make. But if you’re like me and not always shooting in studio, you may also need something less bulky, more discreet, and just as capable.
“The best camera is the one you have with you.”
This is absolutely true. I don’t enjoy carrying big cameras. One inch, micro four thirds, APSC, full frame, medium format – they’re all huge and embarrassing when you’re dining in a restaurant blessed with one or more Michelin stars. And they make you look like a tourist. And they make you look like a wedding photographer if you happen to be wearing a suit. And they pick up more disapproving stares from fellow diners than a crying baby pairing a Napa Valley cab with fish. You get my point.
Until recently, I dealt with this using a somewhat discreet, slim, and elegant aluminum clad smartphone made by a certain “fruit company.” And it’s good. It’s so good in fact that even a monkey can use it. And therein lies the problem – everyone’s pictures look the same and it is impossible for me to differentiate myself as a photographer. That’s why I’ve started using the ZenFone Zoom.
Like most premium smartphones, ZenFone Zoom is compact, features a large high resolution screen, sports a sleek stylish design crafted from machined aluminum, and is wrapped in genuine leather. Unlike all other premium smartphones, ZenFone Zoom has 3X optical zoom and manual controls with dedicated fumble-free camera buttons. And that makes a difference – a big difference.
When you’re shooting at a restaurant or outside, you can’t really control the light. You can ask for a table close to a window, but you aren’t always going to get it. Golden hour doesn’t always coincide with meal time and you’re stuck shooting with a shadow hanging over your plate. In addition, many restaurants are purposefully dark to enhance the romantic mood. Long story short, you are going to take a picture in sub optimal conditions where only manual controls will do. Enter the ZenFone Zoom. If you haven’t read my most recent article on how I captured and processed the Gecko picture, you will want to read it here. Done? Fantastic! You now understand the principles of photography and getting the best image quality out of the ZenFone Zoom, but now I will explain how to apply that process to food photography.
Food is great because it doesn’t move, has tons of color, and excites the palate of the viewer like nothing else. When you’re taking the shot, use symmetry or the rule of thirds. Be precise about framing your shot even if it means standing up. If you have a shadow cast on your plate, take a step back and use the 3X zoom to get closer. The ZenFone Zoom has a matte leather back plate that won’t reflect light or pick up nasty stares from the waiter, so take your time. Whether you’re taking a shot from directly above, or from a three-quarter view, try your best to keep your point of interest in focus and line them up either in the center or on the cross-hairs your tic-tac-toe grid. Most importantly never use flash because it will reflect off the plate and blind you as well as fellow diners. Instead, systematically bump up your ISO and slow down your shutter speed. If you feel like you’re shaking, your chair always doubles as a monopod. Got it? Good! Go have some fun!