I prepared this page to address the most common questions I receive regarding my photography. If there are certain things that you would like to know and are not addressed in this page, please e-mail me at tuba@jarofvanilla.com

 

What camera do you use?

In my first year of photography (2011), I was using an entry-level camera, the Nikon D5100

Starting October 2013, I switched to a professional full-frame camera, Nikon D800

If you live in the GCC, and you want to purchase a camera, check out this site: www.cam4sell.com

They have the best prices I have come across, EVER.

 

What lens do you use?

I started off with the standard kit lens that came with my Nikon D5100, the 18-55mm lens. I had no idea how limited I was in terms of picture quality until a few months later I purchased the 50mm lens.

The 50mm lens for Nikon comes in two main types:

The switch from the kit lens to the 50mm lens was an eye-opening experience. Even though I had the ‘cheaper’ 50mm lens, it made so much difference in image quality and depth of field (the background blur).

When I got the D800, I also got the ‘more expensive’ full frame 50mm lens. I haven’t tested them against each other on my camera, but the performance is great! And with an f stop of 1.4, you get a much shallower depth of field.

 

What lights do you use?

Currently, I use natural light…with time, I’ve learned about direction of light, about which windows get me the better results, and how light changes during the day. You need to find a window that has a nice amount of diffused light. If you use direct sunlight, your image may be overexposed with a lot of harsh shadows.

 

What post-processing program do you use?

I use Adobe Lightroom. It is an ‘easy to learn by yourself’ type of software. I started off with some tutorials, but after I got the hang of it, I just started experimenting myself. The best thing about Adobe Lightroom is, it does not alter the original image. And you can always reset the changes you make if you don’t like them.

And now, Adobe has started the CC (Creative Cloud). Basically, it’s a way that you can purchase either one or all Adobe programs for a monthly fee. It’s almost like you’re renting the program. The reason why they did this was to slow down (or stop) piracy.

Adobe CC has a photography set of programs for only 10 USD per month. It includes, Photoshop, Lightroom (desktop, web, and mobile).

 

Do you use a tripod?

Not always. It could sometimes be restricting to use a tripod…for example if you want to stand on a chair or if you want to capture a different angle.

But using a tripod frees your hands, minimizes camera shake (so it minimizes blur) and can be a great assistant in low light situations when you want slow down the shutter speed.

I use a Monfrotto tripod which is quite sturdy, and so far I’m quite happy with it.

 

What settings do you use on your camera?

As soon as I found out the differences between the modes, I started shooting in the Manual mode.

For some photographers, they transition from Auto into Manual slowly. For me, I just had to get used to Manual, so I just switched to Manual and never went back.

Manual gives you full control of the settings. My advice is, if you haven’t switched to Manual yet, you really should think of doing so soon. It gives you control on how the image is going to turn out, rather than having your camera guess on what it should be like and choose the settings for you.

I shoot my images in RAW format (as opposed to JPEG). I don’t want to get into the specifics of these formats but I will summarize some of the main advantages in shooting in RAW.

However, if you’re interested in a few more details, or the differences between RAW and JPEG, you can check out this link:

http://www.slrlounge.com/school/raw-vs-jpeg-jpg-the-ultimate-visual-guide/

RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. In JPEG the image is compressed and image information is lost.

Since there is no compression with RAW images, you get a high level of quality. However, that comes with a downside; RAW files take up more space on your camera and on your computer. This means you need a larger, or multiple memory cards.

It is easier to make corrections to exposure, sharpness and white balance on RAW files.

RAW images require post-processing though since the camera does not process them.

 

What books or websites have helped you?

Books

Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling

Exposure: From Snapshots to Great Shots

 

Websites

http://mattikaarts.com/blog/technique/

http://pinchofyum.com/artificial-lighting-tips-for-food-photography

http://www.6bittersweets.com/2011/08/my-take-on-food-styling-and-photography.html

http://gourmandeinthekitchen.com/2011/food-photography-food-stylist-tami-hardeman/

http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/04/guide-to-food-blog-photography.html

http://anhsfoodblog.com/2011/12/food-photography-in-artificial-light.html/

http://content.photojojo.com/tips/food-photography-tips/

http://digital-photography-school.com/food-photography-an-introduction

 

Workshops

http://www.thecompellingimage.com – Online Workshop

http://gulfphotoplus.com   – Dubai

Meeta K. Wolff’s Workshops: http://www.whatsforlunchhoney.net/p/food-photography-styling-workshops.html

If you have any questions that have not been addressed here, please e-mail me at tuba@jarofvanilla.com