Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Food Photography Workshop at Science Gallery

Dublin's Science Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition entitled Edible: The Taste of Things to Come. Running from February 10th to April 6th, Edible promises to look at the topic of food from the perspective of the eater, probing how our actions shape what is sown, grown, harvested and consumed. 

There are loads of events scheduled to run throughout the exhibition, one of which was a food photography masterclass with nerd-tastic food photographer and blogger Scott Heimendinger. Check out his food experiments and photographs on his website, Seattle Food Geek. I just love his clean, sharp style to photography where the food literally pops from the screen. It makes a refreshing change to the soft-focus, Scandinavian-vintage style that seems to be in vogue with food bloggers at the moment. How many more pictures of mismatched cutlery and milk bottles do we really need to see?

Scott kicked off the session by showing some photos taken by Ryan Matthew Smith during the making of the epic bible of modern cooking, Modernist Cuisine, where Scott now currently works as Business Development Manager. These photos are jaw-droppingly detailed and intricate, each a miniature masterpiece. Scott then followed on with some of his own work, and in some cases took the audience through the Photoshop steps required to produce these kinds of shots.

After a light lunch, it was time for us to start taking our own photos. Out came a wide variety of DSLRs and we all got to work at the different work areas. In one corner was a series of tumbling mushrooms on a black background, while across the way, strawberries were splashing into a sharply contoured tumbler. A slice of orange sat on a sheet of clear perspex, with a flash gun underneath, while we attempted to shoot from overhead. 

The day finished up with a whirlwind guide to Photoshop, with Scott whizzing through image processing. This was absolutely inspiring stuff, ranging from simple touch-ups, to creation of a composite image from multiple shots. Once I got home, I made an effort to do some work on my own shots, the results of which are below.

First up, the mushrooms on a black acrylic (?) sheet with a black backdrop. I love the reflections in this shot.

Original mushroom photo (f/16, 1/125s, ISO 200)

After minor editing

Next, a strawberry dropping into a tumbler of water. This was on a white acrylic sheet with a white backdrop which got blown out when the flash fired. I had switched to my 35mm prime lens at this stage due to an issue with the auto-focus motor in my kit lens. I shot with the lens set to manual focus and I didn't get it quite right as the shot is a little soft, but I still like it!

Strawberry in water (f/16, 1/160s, ISO 200)
Some tweaking of curves, and background evening
And lastly, an orange slice, laid on a sheet of clear acrylic, with a flash positioned underneath on top of a black cloth. This image received the most processing, in order to remove the dust specks, boost the color as well as bring out the beautiful cell structure of the orange.

Orange slice (f/16, 1/160s, ISO 200)
Dust removed, colour boosted and image sharpened
This was a fantastically fun event, and Scott proved to be a very fun and informative host. Some of his pictures were truly inspiring, and I fell in love with his shot of a gin & tonic garnished with delicate micro flowers. Several of his photos featured dishes made with vibrantly green pea butter (you only need a centrifuge to make this substance, simples), or how about mussels suspended in spheres made from their own liquor. 

Thanks to Science Gallery, Scott and my fellow attendees for a memorable afternoon.
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10 comments

Dorcas said...

The photos look great, I especially love the mushrooms. Do you think his style suits individual items rather than a finished dish? Sounds like a really interesting day!

dudara said...

Hi Dorcas,

Check out some of his food photography on hig blog. He photograpsh both individual elements and complete dishes. I think his style will appeal to the more scientific people. For me, his clean style and focus on the food makes it pop out, rather than form part of a lovely scene.

Caroline@Bibliocook said...

Sounds like you really had a great opportunity to play around at that workshop. Only way tolearn!

dudara said...

The workshop reminded me of why I enjoy photography and getting to be hands on is always fun

Stasty said...

A great summation of a really fun and informative day. Only sad I didn't get to talk to you more. Vicky

WiseMóna said...

Looks like a great lesson was had! I am with you on the Scandinavian photos. I don't subscribe to the Donnay Hay way because everyones photos start to look the same.
I love the strawberry in the glass shot and I can tell you havea natural talent indeed Joanne. Gorgeous effort.

Colette said...

I have to agree with you G, re. blog pics. I am tired of looking at how many "props" are used at the moment. I try to take pictures of the actual food, and with the cakes, I cut in to them and show what they are like on the inside. Most others don't bother doing that. The photos at the Workshop are just amazing.

dudara said...

Colette & Mona - Magda's recent blog post was quite interesting. It's important to find a style of photography that appeals to you and transmits your view of food. In my case, it's usually on a white plate, in a restaurant :)

Bruno Bubu Oddone Rotela said...

Maybe is too late but do you know any upcoming courses and were for food styling?

dudara said...

Hi Bruno - I don't know of any at the moment, but keep an eye on people like Jette Virdi and Sharon Hearne Smith. They might be teaching classes

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