Author Topic: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone  (Read 596 times)

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Offline axbman

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thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« on: July 21, 2014, 02:31:54 PM »
i would really love to start developing a photo portfolio of pizzas, breads, etc. my only camera is the iphone 5,
and with just the basic camera app i don't really know how to get the right focus or overall picture.

Are there any techniques or apps that might help me get some professional looking shots of food?


Online mkevenson

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 03:18:07 PM »
i would really love to start developing a photo portfolio of pizzas, breads, etc. my only camera is the iphone 5,
and with just the basic camera app i don't really know how to get the right focus or overall picture.

Are there any techniques or apps that might help me get some professional looking shots of food?

There was a recent thread re using iPhones for pics here. Seems a lot of folks pics are posted sideways or up side down.

All I can offer is the same advice you would use if taking a pic with any camera: hold still, use adequate light for the shot you want, eliminate unwanted elements in the pic, make sure the shot is focused. My wife has your phone, I will look at her camera. I use a Galaxy S4 and it takes prettyy good shots, but not as good as my Canon . I bet there is a forum for iPhone 5 cameras.

Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles

Offline Donjo911

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 03:31:00 PM »
There are several options for aftermarket lenses that one can attach to the iPhone.  They range from very basic to arguably semiprofessional capabilities.  However, when you compare the options of a low cost purpose built digital camera (especially with regard to battery life, memory options, Pixels, and formatting options) may be better suited your intended purpose.  You may want to search the internet for Wired Magazine iPhone camera lenses. They have had a few roundup's of advances in this area over the past few years. Although, it is hard to beat the iPhone as a general purpose, always handy, tool. 


The links that Mark provided include some information from forum members who are well informed on software editing tools for Mac/PC and Android & Apple OS apps.  Best of luck.

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Offline stonecutter

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 04:02:23 PM »
Camera+ is a very good app for iPhone
http://oldworldstoneandgarden.com/


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Offline Davydd

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2014, 04:19:32 PM »
To take pictures of pizzas you don't need to add a lens to an iPhone. Most of those lenses are wide angle, fisheye or 2X lenses. None of those are needed.

As for loading photos upside down or sideways, I consider that user error in not checking orientation beforehand or not understanding the orientation while viewing on the iPhone. You can confuse the orientation while taking photos by taking a photo too fast going from landscape to upright in holding or the way you hold the iPhone to take photos. The software has to calculate and adjust.  It is easily fixable before and after uploading. That's a simple matter of learning how to use your iPhone camera.

To take a picture the number one criteria is good light. If in a restaurant sitting by a window in the daytime is the optimum situation. At home, same thing. Diffused light as in north light is better than direct sunlight. At night, as much artificial light as you can get on your subject. Avoid cool lights and fluorescent lighting. Generally the iPhone does a fair job of interpreting white balance and you can fix it with editing app software. Avoid flash. It is too harsh in about every instance. The iPhone 5s has corrected flash a little bit.

Don't get too close to the pizza. With the camera app I believe focus needs to be about 11 inches away. If you want close you can always crop and edit afterwards to get a close shot. Don't bother with the digital zoom. Cropping is easier with the editing tools. There is autofocus but it can be slow in a low light situation. Wait for the orange focus square to appear. You can also tap the screen to focus on your subject. If you want more sophistication in focus and light control, the third party camera apps like Camera+, Camera Awesome, Camera Pro let you tap and focus the subject and the light separately.

There are all kinds of editing apps that can save and improve a photo. Those third party camera apps have built in editing tools that are more extensive than the simple editing Apple's Photos app has. I use the  Snapseed app a lot. A couple of very simple apps I use to correct low light shots are Normalize and Perfectly Clear. Sometimes I play around with several different apps and then choose which one did the better correction.

Back to cropping. I often crop a photo before posting as it can almost always improve the composition of a photo. That way you don't have to worry and agonize in trying to get a perfect shot. Take the shot and fix it later. Take several shots. Move around. Rearrange your subject. Make sure clutter is cleared away such as things like the piece of paper that holds napkins and silverware together, torn open sugar packets, Crumpled napkins, crumbs, your wife's purse...in other words check the background.
Davydd

Offline akuban

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2014, 10:08:57 AM »
What Davydd said, with the addition of:

DIFFUSE NATURAL LIGHT
Diffuse natural light is best, like what you get on an overcast day. This is my No. 1 tip to anyone, and you'll see it come up again and again in discussions of food photography. It's not as harsh as direct sunlight and leads to softer contrast and less severe shadows. So if you can, move the pizza out of direct sunlight. (On that note, make sure the pizza is either fully in a beam of light or fully out of it. The worst is if you have half in direct sunlight and half in shadow. It really screws up the camera's exposure.)

SINGLE SOURCE OF LIGHTING
If you're at home and/or can control the lighting, make sure it's all from one type of light source. That is, if you've got some nice daylight coming in from your kitchen/dining room window, make sure there are no artificial lights on. That helps with the phone's auto white balance so it's not trying to account for two different temperatures of light.


SHOOT FROM ABOVE
I like to take photos from directly above. Smartphones don't have the kind of lenses that give you shallow depth of field — that effect where the background is out of focus but the subject is clear. They pretty much capture everything in good-enough focus that the background can become a distraction. If you shoot from directly above, you eliminate a "noisy" background and have only the pizzza and the table (see first attached photo).

As Davydd mentioned, you want to shoot from a good distance away. One, because the phone doesn't do well up close but also because the closer you are, the more chance you have in introducing your own shadow into the shot. I shoot from about 2 feet up and then "zoom in" by cropping the photo later.

USE NEGATIVE SPACE
If you can't shoot from above (say you're doing undercarriage or crumb shots) try to use negative space or darkness (or even whiteness). I'll hold the pizza up so that a section of blank wall is behind it (attachment 2) rather than a section with our decorations on it. Attachment 3 shows how I used the negative space of a black background (conveniently the bench back in the restaurant I was in) to keep the focus on the rim of the pizza. All the pics here are iPhone — with some editing.

EDITING and APPS
I'll probably echo what others before me have said. Here is my workflow:

Shooting: I use Camera+ SOLELY for its "stabilizer" feature. As someone mentioned, it waits for the camera to be in focus AND you to be reasonably still before firing the shutter. Guaranteed in-focus shots. Though I find that the latest version of the iPhone camera (I'm using a 5s) seems to do something similar now. Camera+ might be like $1.99 but to me it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

First editing pass: Snapseed (free). AMAZING app. You can sharpen the pic, crop, rotate it, straighten it, adjust white balance, contrast, SO MANY THINGS. I try to keep as true to the original colors as possible, so I rarely use the saturation adjustment.

If needed, I'll use an app called Retouch, which is MAGICAL. It basically erases stuff like crumbs, spots, a water ring, etc. Again, I rarely use it, because I believe in showing things as is, but sometimes for things like a distracting stain or splotch of sauce on the table, I'll clone that out. It costs maybe $1.99 (I don't remember) but again, WORTH IT, to me at least.

Big Lens: I have never used this for pizza photos because it crosses the line too much for me, but it allows you to blur the background to get an SLR-camera effect with shallow depth of field. The only problem with this is that if you're impatient (it takes a lot of screen-rubbing to use this app) and do it quickly, it can look pretty artificial to an observant eye.

Once I'm done, I post up to my Instagram account(s), my Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr (which I use pretty much for backup/archiving these days). If you're interested in examples, here is my personal Instagram, which has a bunch of pizza and food pics in general: http://instagram.com/akuban

LAST, I will say that it is perfectly possible to take GREAT photos with the iPhone (or other smartphones) these days. When I worked as a food-writer and had to shoot pictures of pizza and other foods, I evolved from using crappy point-and-shoots to nice PnS's to, finally, fancy DSLRs. At this point I NEVER carry my DSLR. It's just too bulky and conspicuous — with the right lighting, angles, and tricks, the phone can do very respectable work.

Good luck, axbman, and if you post these up somewhere, please share the link!
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 10:20:10 AM »
At this point I NEVER carry my DSLR. It's just too bulky and conspicuous

Great post Adam.

I've noticed the few times I whipped out my big DLSR and started taking pictures of my pies in a pizzeria, it has garnered some interesting attention from the staff.  :-D
Pizza is not bread.

Offline akuban

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 10:37:53 AM »
Yeah. I've seen an interesting evolution on that. When I first started pizza-blogging in 2003, it was really WEIRD to take a photo of your food at all. (Granted, I know a lot of people STILL think it's weird  ??? ) Then, slowly, at least in NYC, people came to know that it was probably a food blogger or a Yelper. It wasn't all that uncommon to see the DSLRs come out, and I think eventually the more savvy restaurants understood. I'd still get a lot of suspicion in the outer parts of NYC where it's more old-school — deep Queens, deep Brooklyn, Staten Island, The Bronx. But then, the smartphone ousted the DSLR for all but the REALLY HARDCORE professional food blogger/food writer. I'm "retired" from food blogging/writing, for the most part, so I use my iPhone. And now I find it annoying to see DSLRs come out and pretty much know it's probably a professional blogger/writer if I see it.
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline Peasant

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 10:43:23 AM »
Some great points above (brought here by Adam) and I wanted to add a few things:

AWB (auto white balance): basically you're adjusting your camera for your light conditions, when you can't get some great window seat or don't feel comfortable carrying your pie to another guest's table :P
  I don't use an iPhone so maybe you don't have options to adjust the white balance, but usually in-app settings allow you to change the camera to adjust for indoor light which can be better than the auto mode. App filters help adjust for odd off coloring too. This had to be adjusted for contrast and lighting since I was in a restaurant and wanted to show how much ash in an upskirt- http://instagram.com/p/qxUdQyuJx0

Framing: look up some basic framing rules, the rule of thirds goes a long way.  Look it up and it'll help you understand the points of your pic that people naturally look at.  I love it when there's a perfectly cupped pepperoni front and center though.
 Here I wanted to show a barpie crust and an oily drip; a sizable sausage is just off one of the four points - http://instagram.com/p/po5wmeuJ8y

Try manually focusing; again, not sure if your phone does this but my wife's does.  Your phone will automatically try to focus on something in your shot.  If you want the light and focus to be set on a specific part of your picture, press and hold the screen onto that part.
  Here I definitely focused up closer and my phone was able to blur out the busy background - http://instagram.com/p/p1kxUIuJ3s

Have fun!

Offline akuban

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 10:50:29 AM »
Yeah, iPhone, if you press and hold in the native camera app, you get focus lock. I think you can get exposure lock, too. Camera+, you can do exposure and focus lock. I *think* you can also do WB in Camera+ — but I find the iPhone's auto white balance to be so good (and Camera+ auto-adjust) that I rarely ever do any kind of WB compensation beforehand.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 10:58:59 AM by akuban »
¡Hasta la pizza!


Offline akuban

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2014, 11:45:00 AM »
Last thing, so I'm not hogging the convo here.

I probably should have noted one of my guiding principles with photography — like pizza, this is only ONE WAY of doing it. Go try all of the different ways and then find your own style!
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline Donjo911

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Re: thoughts on taking pizza pictures with an iphone
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 01:28:52 PM »
Adam,
Thanks for that post!  I imagine that several app developers will "owe you a slice" after they see their one day sales jump 1000% with no easily explainable correlation!  ;D

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