Food photo colour balance
Apart from the use of selective focus, the thing that strikes me the most as characteristic of contemporary food photography is the very neutral colour balance achieved. I would characterize it as contrasty, with rich blacks, very neutral whites, and low to normal saturation of colours.
So I was curious: is this the result of a specific film choice (EPN?) or simply the fact that a lot of effort is spent on filtration in order to achieve the proper result? I know that digital is probably involved a lot now, but I wanted to know what is used on the side of film (if it's still involved at all!).
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
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Food photography is an artform in itself. I haven't done any myself, although I have done a bit of reading about it. I believe a neutral film, like Ektachrome or Provia is generally used.
The stylist is the artist.
I once worked in a studio that did a lot of food. We shot Ektachrome.
I assume that today it is all done digital.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
I saw something on the web about a year ago about photographing for a big food magazine (I don't remember which one now), and they were shooting 8x10 Ektachrome.
Originally Posted by Flotsam
Ektachrome 100 Professional (EPN) is a good choice, since it is very neutral in colour balance. The newer Fuji Astia 100F is another excellent choice, and can actually be a little better for green food items. The other benefit of Astia 100F is that has less grain than EPN.
There is still an issue of controlling the lighting. You can use gels to do that, or involve a gel fitler holde and CC filters to do slight corrections. This is also something you can do in post processing, though in practice you want to be as close as possible on the transparency.
The only way to find out if you can make this work is to experiment a bit. Starting with a neutral film colour balance is one good launching point for this, but only a beginning step.
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To a vert large extent, it's the publisher's/editor's choice, and there are fashions. When I was shooting Barbecue the editor liked seriously warm trannies: I ended up shooting on one of the warmer Japanese film-stocks, with an 81EF as well.
That was around 15 years ago. There have been many fashions since. As for whether you shoot film or digi, I can't answer for nowadays, but in those days they often insisted on 4x5 and turned their noses up at 6x7cm, even for pics that would only be run whole-page, i.e a maximum of about 4x off 6x7cm. This wasn't anything to do with quality -- it was blind prejudice and stupidity, which are common in the publishing world.
Ektachrome 100 Professional (EPN) is the film of choice because of it's neutrality.
Basically one does a test shoot to see exactly where it's at.
Nearly always you end up pushing the film ¼ to ½ a stop to get nice pure whites and almost always one has to use minor CC filters. Often a CC filter of 5 red, or like, is all that is needed. This is with flash in a studio environment.
After your test film(s) are processed, you put them on a colour corrected light box and use different filters to ascertain just what, if any, colour cast you have.
Using a 4x5 camera, we tended to put the CC filter inside on the rear of the lens, this way we avoided possible flare from the myriad of light and dark reflectors one tends to use.
Trust me when I say that the better the food looks to eat, the worse it actually is.
Food stylists do all sorts of things to make food, look on film, what it looks like on a plate.
Our stylist would make a beautiful but inedible dish for the camera and then often make a delicious, edible version for the photographers and assistants to scarf down for lunch. She was very popular
Originally Posted by Mick Fagan
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
Doing a bit of work for the short lived "Taste" put out by Williams Sonoma, I know they used digital for their in house work. Personally I could never understand why they did the selective focus thing. Yet it looked more arty, but I was personally turned off when they would describe the food and you looked at the picture. "Here is a wonderful reduction over braised...... asccompanied by garden fresh steamed veggies.... What you would see is a bit of the slice of meat, with colorful blobs of something surrounding it. There was no way to tell if the green stuf was a sala or zucchini. I wanted to see the in focus image not the blobs. I wouldn't make up the recipes if all there was to tell me what the final product would be, was a color spot of a blob. Why is it that food stylists love blobs out of focus?
Well, some food would look better out of focus--