Sunday, February 05, 2012

Food Photos

I've been asked a few times about cameras and equipment I use to take my food photos with. I've also been asked about the grey background in a lot of these photos.

It is a little embarrassing to answer these questions for a couple reason. #1 - The equipment I use is old, cheap, and very shabby. #2 - The background in most of these photos isn't some sparkling clean and trendy counter top, table top, or kitchen appliance. #3 - I was a photo major at USU about a million years ago, these aren't great photos and I know with the right equipment and enough time I could make much better images.

So let's address the question of equipment. Here are the cameras I use:

This is my digital camera. It is a 10 year old Pentax Optio. 4.0 megapixels, 5.8mm-17.4mm lens, built in flash. It has been a decent little point and shoot camera. What I have always liked about it, is that it is small enough to fit in an altoids tin and I carry it with me everywhere I go. It actually stopped working about a year ago and I took the whole thing apart, cleaned it then put it back together and got it running again. But it is pretty fragile and probably won't last another year. When it goes I'll be stuck with my other option.



When the battery in my optio dies or I just don't have it with me, I use the phone on my LG phone. An iphone camera it ain't.



The sad thing is, I don't even own a tripod or a light meter any more.

As for my background of choice...it is an antique Maytag ringer washing machine that once belonged to my grandmother. Last year my cousin, who now lives in the house where our grandmother lived, wanted to get this beast out of her basement and given away or recycled. My aunt and my mother asked everyone if they wanted it and I was the only taker. Looking at it, it doesn't seem all that heavy.



Trying to lift it, it seems about as heavy as my car. It took me, my husband, my sister and her husband, and my cousin's adult son to wrestle this monstrosity up the tiny and winding basement stairs. It is on casters so once we got it on a flat service it was very easy for one person to roll it.



It is now chained to a post on our front porch, but I honestly can't see anyone stealing it after they tried to lift it into a vehicle...notice the word tried, there is no way one or even 2 people are going to get this lifted. I was planning on trying to convert it into a flower planter but I never got around to doing that because I've enjoyed taking photos on it so much. This winter I didn't think that any snow or water would get in it, but when I opened it to check for rust there was a giant block of ice in the tub. I poured hot water over the ice to melt it and tried to drain it, but it wouldn't drain. I took the agitator assembly apart and found this.



Seriously, why was there a doorknob in the washing machine?!? I didn't see it in there when we first brought it home, it must have been under the agitator, blocking the drain. Notice the bubbles? There was still laundry soap in the thing and when I poured the hot water in to melt the ice and clean it, it made suds...50 year old laundry soap and it still works. *shaking head*



There are a couple reasons why I use this outdated and imposing appliance for my food photos. #1 - It is on our covered porch where it gets great natural light from the South, and it is in open shade most of the day which makes for easy photo taking. #2 - The metal is a matte finish and almost completely non-reflective so I don't have to worry about reflections or glare. #3 - I'm kind of fond of this white elephant, it belonged to my grandmother, it is sturdy but somehow still stylish, and I admire things that were built to last.



Just goes to show you that you don't have to have expensive equipment or fancy backdrops to take a decent photo now and then. If you are in the Cache Valley area and looking add a few fun pieces to your dinner ware or food photography collection, try the annual USU Ceramics Guild bowl sale every fall. Another option would be our local thrift stores. Growing up no one I knew would be caught dead in the DI and now all of the sudden it is trendy to shop at thrift stores. You can find interesting plates, bowls, cutlery, napkins, trivets, serving dishes and glass wear for relatively cheap...and the stock changes all the time. Half the fun is in hunting for the find!

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