My First SLR (& This Blog’s First Fancy Food Pictures)

It only took six years of food blogging for me to figure out that the images on a food blog are as important as the writing. And so it was, last week, that I went with my cookbook photographer, Lizzie Leitzell (see her website here) to B&H so she could help me pick out my first SLR (or single-lens reflex camera).

I’d been mulling it over for a while (and a while = several years), but what really set the ball in motion was a dinner with my parents at Del Posto. Totally unexpectedly, at the end of the meal, they told me they were giving me an early Hanukkah present (a very early Hanukkah present!) and reached across the table with a bag from the Apple store. In the bag was a fancy iPad. I said: “Whoah!”

And then, rather meekly, I began to explain that as much as I appreciated getting an iPad, I already had an issue spending most of my day staring at screens (my computer, the TV, my phone) and that, if it were at all possible, it might be nice to return the iPad and get a nice camera for my blog instead. A nice camera would be a sound investment; my readers would rejoice at images that didn’t make them wince. My parents gave their kind assent.

And so! To B&H Lizzie and I went. After chatting with the sales clerk at the Canon counter, we settled on the Canon Rebel T1i:


But that wasn’t all….

Because my main goal was to take beautiful pictures of food, especially at night (when I do most of my cooking), Lizzie helped me pick out a tripod and a light kit that came with two Eco Digital Imaging lights and a backdrop. The result is a real professional nighttime food studio:


Yo, I’m a pro!

A huge thanks, of course, then, to my parents for their generosity (this is way better than an iPad, trust me.) And a huge thanks to Lizzie for all her help.

But now for the real stuff: my first batch of pictures with the new camera. The goal, for me, was to use this really nice lens to create what’s called “a shallow depth of field.” The idea being that what’s in the foreground is in focus and what’s in the background is slightly blurred.

In that category, this is the best picture I’ve taken so far…. I took it on Friday at the farmer’s market:


Not bad, right?

I took this cool picture of radishes:


And this one of decorative gourds:


Speaking of gourds, as an exercise I took this one of gourds in my window:


As far as the studio, the first night that I used it, I chose a yellow backdrop which Lizzie, in a later e-mail, sort of warned me away from. “The thing to think about is how those backdrop colors read and how they affect your subject (like painting). I find the yellow hard to look at, and it looks like it casts yellow everywhere in such a way that it overloads the food….Try playing with more neutral tones to keep the focus on the food – grays, browns, pale colors.”

It’s nice to have a photography mentor! These are the pictures she was talking about:




Even though I agree with her, I look at that last picture of an apple cobbler I made and I can’t believe I took that. Especially since this blog began with me using the crappiest camera and taking the crappiest pictures.

And so! This week’s posts are all beautifully photographed; I don’t want to spoil the surprises and embed those pictures here, you’ll have to wait. (That’s why I don’t understand why anyone follows me on Flickr: all the surprises are ruined because I upload my food pics way before I write about them!)

Suffice it to say, this blog is ready for the big-time.

All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

Let's dish!

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