Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins and A Light Review

Ok, the muffins are really secondary to this post. It's really about the early birthday present my girlfriend got me. See, she had noticed that I was a little upset about the lighting in our new apartment. I'm not sure what tipped her off, but it was probably the big holes in the walls I put there with my head. Or possibly the palpable miasma of fury that filled the apartment whenever I would try to take pictures of anything less photogenic than a cookie. Or maybe we discussed it like rational adults and decided that seeing as how we were good and did our taxes early this year we should each get something nice. It was probably at least one of those. Heh.

I got her a laptop for her birthday (not particularly early) and she got me a Lowel Ego light for mine (very early). So to test it out I made muffins. I figured I would start slow, with something nice and easy. It's a good light, I like it. It works well, although the pics still do need a little adjustment with some software. But not as much as before and the pictures come out much sharper. Which is nice seeing how "dull/unsharp" is second only to the cop-out "composition" in reasons that certain food photo websites reject so much of my stuff. Heh.

So, if you're looking for a light, it's pretty good and not too expensive. You do have to assemble it yourself which was kind of a pain and that says something since I love putting stuff together.

I'm afraid I don't have a recipe for the muffins, I kind of cobbled them together from several different recipes, to use what I had on hand. They were all right, but not so good that I'm going to try to recreate them. I just wanted something easy to take pictures of.

So all you food photographers out there, what kind of light do you use? Natural? Artificial? If so, what kind?

32 comments:

Mama Feoneafey said...

As you can probably tell from my blog I use what ever light the ceiling lamp in the kitchen provides...lol.. BUT wow those muffins LOOK scrumptious! Your new lighting really shows the details! Congrats on the early birthday goodies to you and your Girlfriend!

CrystalsCozyKitchen said...

All of the food photos I have had accepted (about 3 of them) have been taken in natural light and touched up in photoshop.
I love the Pioneer Woman's tips on how to take good food photos.
http://thepioneerwoman.com/photography/2009/07/taking-photos-of-food-8-tips/
It also helps if you have a DSLR camera, or a photo editing software, or both.

Sook said...

Oh wow, these muffins look incredible!!

Joanne said...

The absolute best light there out there is natural light. You can't get any better than that. Otherwise, fluorescent light is the second best. I actually bought two portable desk lambs (the kind you can just clamp onto whatever surface you are working on...or hang from cabinets) and use those when I take pictures. The photos definitely look better though although I thought they were pretty darn good to begin with!

Bob said...

Mama: Thanks! Heh, I've been there. ;)

CrystalsCozyKitchen: Thanks for the link, I hadn't seen that post.

Sook: Thanks!

Joanne: Thanks! Yeah, natural light is the best. Heh, my apartment just gets crap for it.

Barbara said...

I have a couple locations in my kitchen which lend themselves well to photography. No flash either. I have a lot of light in there and just turn it all on and hope for the best! I am not a photographer. Kate at Serendipity had a good tutorial on Photoshop the other day. Check it out.

Bridgett said...

Nice muffins! oh, that sounds bad, but it is so true.

Me and My Pink Mixer said...

Oh I wish I had one of those fancy lights! I have to take my dishes outside to take photos - so I look like a crazy person to my neighbors :) Happy Birthday!

Kris said...

I could go for one of these right now! I'm ready for dinner already!

Mary said...

The muffins look delicious. I use natural light when I can.

Jenn said...

Delicious muffins.

My lighting is usually a little mix of both. Depending on where I'm shooting.

Jen said...

I am not good at taking food pics! Now that spring is here, I have more daylight after work to take pics, so I put my food near the window! Then I just started using photoshop to brighten and sharpen the pics, so we'll see how much that helps! I haven't submitted anything. We are moving soon and I'm hoping our new places has better light than the one we live in now--I don't want to be in your position of being mad about it! Maybe I will take some pics outside this summer too--or maybe I will ask for a light for my birthday!

Pam said...

I use daylight if possible but I also have a light box.

The muffins look delicious.

Jeannie said...

Those muffins looks so awesome! I can see every chips clearly :D Great pictures! I use only my handphone camera to take my pictures and the only light available is the kitchen fluorescent and daylight depending on the time when I took the pictures :P

Leslie said...

I love my Lowel Ego light!!!! The real fancy heavy hitter bloggers have 2! Now I am waiting for my second! lol

Wandering Coyote said...

Well, I am not really into the photography aspect of food blogging, so I don't worry about my lighting other than to make sure the food is decently visible. I use whatever light is available at the time. I am not super happy with my camera, however; it's suckage. It really frustrates me at times and I am considering replacing it, not just for food blogging purposes, but for just plain old every day usage.

The Dutch Baker's Daughter said...

I had a new rejection notice today: Composition too tight. Wth? The only pictures that have ever been accepted by that certain food porn site, have all been taken in late afternoon natural light. I'm trying different light bulbs, but no good luck. It's too bad, since I cook mostly at night. I'll have to check out your lighting. I'm so new at this....a few short months ago, I didn't know how to get the date off of my pictures. Now I want a new camera, tripod and light box. Ha. My hobby is getting pricy.

P.S. Your muffins look fabulous!

Pie Scientista said...

I think lighting is everyone with a day jobs biggest problem. It really makes me envy the stay-at-home-mom food bloggers out there, I would kill for the kind of lighting they get access to. I will check out that light, though...Thanks for the tip.

appropriated.muffin said...

that looks so nice! lucky you to have that light! i have to time my baking juuuuuuuuuuuuuuust right to take pictures in natural light.

doggybloggy said...

I use two juxtaposed desk lamps and a simple point and shoot camera for my setup shots and as much natural light as I can get when I can get it...

Velva said...

Your muffin photos do look quite nice. For me, when possible, I use late afternoon sunlight. I find it to provide soft light that can make for a nice photograph. In my house, I try to use a black background without a lot colors and patterns-mostly because I don't have the photography skills to work with a lot of colors that are not on my plate. :-)

Hungry Dog said...

Congrats on the light! I have the same one and it has made a huge difference in my photos. Sometimes I still get a glare or washout on one side but overall I really like it.

5 Star Foodie said...

Definitely natural daylight is best but I do get a few good shots with an artificial light in the winter time, with the Photoshop help.

noobcook said...

your gf is really sweet! and your muffins look so delectable :)

I like the photos taken with the ego lights, looks like they are really useful!

Grumpy & HoneyB said...

First of all Happy Early b-day and congrats on the present! I have a Lowell too but I think I need 2. I guess I'm never happy! I too think the composition excuse is a cop out. I've had many photos accepted in almost the same composition as I have had rejected. Quite the crock.

Valen said...

I think the muffins look great!

Tangled Noodle said...

What a great gift form you girlfriend! I'm hoping to upgrade my lighting equipment which right now consists of a clip-on lamp on one side, a utility lamp on the other, and a homemade cardboard lightbox! 8-) I'm going to check out this Lowel Ego light.

And I can't think of a better test subject than chocolate chip muffins!

Cinnamon-Girl said...

Your pictures look great! But then, they always do. My fussy new camera only likes natural light - that means If I make something for dinner I have to save a serving to get the shot the next morning - quite a pain - some foods look terrible reheated - like hamburgers...

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Congrats on the new light! I am so jealous. Still using the gooseneck lamp...

Culinary Alchemist said...

HA HA Well the Muffins look awfully good..

As far as lighting... If it weren't for Gimp, I would not even bother taking pictures... I invested in a light box (Catastrophic failure) so I am still using a lovely combination of Natural (from the Skylight) mixed with hints of Flourescent topped off with the flash.

Then I spend 3 hours trying to fix it in gimp... LOL

grace said...

i'm sorry, did you just say 'palpable miasma of fury'? who are you?
i hope the light prevents any future rages. :)

Danielle said...

I'm really holding out on buying anything for my "hobby". but a light would be really nice. How fun to get an early birthday present. and just for the record, I've always thought your pictures were great to begin with!

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