- KNOW THE BASICS. Get to know your camera and practice the principles of light exposure, color, and composition. When you start using the manual mode of you camera you get really creative. There is a tendency in food photo to shot wide open and create blurry backgrounds to draw the attention of the viewers to the most important part of the dish. But in some cases you may need a little more background in focus, if nobody will be able to recognize the elements in the background, that shallow deep of field may not work.
- USE NATURAL LIGHT. The best light for food photography is the light that you don´t even notice when looking at the picture. You want it as natural as possible. Move around and don´t be confined to the kitchen. A simple window is most of the times a nice diffused light source. Food shot in direct light may look harsh and flat. If the light coming from your window still makes harsh shadows and highlights you can use some white linen curtains to soften. You can also use a white foam board to bounce light back onto the plate and reduce shadows. Never use built-in flash!
- CHOOSE PROPS CAREFULLY AND VARY THE BACKGROUND. Play with a variety of plates, bowls, glasses, flatware, and napkins (or remnant fabrics) in different shapes, sizes, and colors to make your image pops. You can create modern, rustic or French bistro styles: for a modern style choose swoop Asian bowls with white or black colors for a clean background, for a rustic style wooden backgrounds made of reclaimed wood are perfect, and for a French Bistro style you can use a marbled pastry board and a linen tablecloth and build the look with vintage silverware. Just don´t overdo your prop to avoid distracting backgrounds.
- PREP YOUR FOOD. Food stylists carefully put food on a plate with tweezers! So, try to get your shooting dish as perfect as you can. On the other hand, a bit of mess like cookie crumbles can be as effective as a clean plate, it makes it more real and appealing. Delicious dishes are not always good for pics, don’t just consider the finished product on the plate and look at the ingredients—perhaps a shooting of the ingredients or a “work in progress” shoot are sometimes more interesting .
- PLAY AROUND AND FIND THE BEST ANGLE. Camera angle is what creates a sense of depth, perspective and scale. Food generally looks good with overhead shots, but you may prefer a 45° degree or a 90° angle from the table depending on the dish. A stack of pancakes will look better from the side (90° angle), while a slice of pizza may look better with an overhead shot. Never shot a dish from only one angle. Frame your dish carefully, not too close or too far away. Try to walk around your plate to capture lighting from different angles and then chose the favorite later. As you can see, the perfect photo takes lots of shots! Never give up..practice, practice, practice.
While I was creating recipes for Food and Nutrition Magazine (FNM), I realize how important is to get a nice strong image to make your creation shine and to inspire others to cook healthy foods. I don´t intent to be a professional food photographer (like the ones from FNM) but with some basic photography knowledge, lots of practice and some tricks food images can get a lot better (I´m still practicing). For bloggers, mouth watering food pictures can attract more traffic to their website. So, here I share the more useful tips I´ve learn when taking food images:
Thanks to the initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, March is National Nutrition Month, celebrating Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day on March 9th. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has prepared for this year a battery of media resources, with the theme “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right”. It is about helping people to prioritize family meals and appreciate the pleasure of flavors. Food is not only for the body, it is a source of pleasure and entertainment and it has a major role in socialization. This is something a see a lot in my home country. In Argentina, we take the time to sit down and enjoy daily meals with family and friends. This is probably due to the great influence of Italian and Spanish immigrants. Family mealtimes is a tradition that Argentineans should not lose with modern lifestyles. It has been shown that shared mealtimes makes family members feel loved, confident and happy and promote healthy eating. So, here I share some tips to enjoy more family mealtimes:
We pick a sunny and warm Brazil beach for our summer vacations: Maceió, a city of Alagoas state. With my hubby and 3 y.o. daughter we had very fresh and delicious dishes. Plus, Brazilians were so much fun and attentive, we had a great time! Afraid of mosquitos? We used lots of mosquito repellent and we did just fine.
Of course, I tried every new food I came across. If you are planning a getaway to Brazil, you better try some of these
2. Tapioca: is a very common delicacy in the Northeast and northern Brazil. Of indigenous origin, it is made of cassava flour (starchy flour from yucca o manioc root) which when spread on a hot frying pan it gels and becomes into a something similar to a pancake or tortilla. This dough has almost no flavor and nutritionally speaking it is mainly carbs, being low in protein and sodium (and gluten free!). Then, you can choose from a variety of sweet or savory ingredients for filling, but the most traditional is filled with coconut and guava paste or with cohalo cheese (a firm but very lightweight cheese produced in Northeastern Brazil, with an almost "squeaky" texture when bitten into).
3. Drinks: Coconut water (água de coco), guaraná (and why not a caipirinha once and then): One of the days on the beach I said: “I must have those coconut water sipped straight from the coconut!”. Coconut water is the clear liquid inside young green coconuts that are sold refreshingly cold and then you can ask them to open the coconut and scoop out the flesh. Coconut water is slightly salty when coconut palms are near the sea. Is an isotonic beverage, good for rehydration as contains sodium, potassium, magnesium. Then, I had couple of cans of Guaraná, a soft drink original from Brazil, that you may find in the supermarket. Guaraná sodas are made from guarana extract, which is thought to be stimulant (similar to caffeine) and has sugar or other sweeteners (I had guaraná zero). It tastes mild, and slightly apple-like, with a berry after-flavour, Lastly, the last day of vacation I had a caipirinha, Brazil´s national alcoholic drink made of cachaça (sugarcane liquor), lime and sugar.
4.Corn on the cob (milho verde): Brazilians share Americans love for corn on the cob, but it is mainly consumed as a snack or street (beach) food. Normally it is sold from a large cauldron of simmering water, placed in a clean and cut half-circle of corn husk, salted and butter, and is eaten on the run. You can ask the vendor to skip butter and salt and also they offer to cut off the kernels and serve the corn kernels on a small plate.
5 .Feijoada: it is a black bean and meats stew originally from Rio de Janeiro area, considered one of the typical dishes of the country and for many, even it is the national dish without discussion. Feijoada has lots of ingredients and can be a high calorie dish. Best prepared over low heat in a thick clay pot, main ingredients are black beans, salted pork or beef products, varied vegetables, all in a thick broth usually served with rice. I personally prefer, Feijão com arroz is the rice and black beans without the addition of the meat.
This Thursday morning the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture finally released the expected 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, after much debate and controversy. Here, what you need to know:
Summarizing here some food and nutrition trends for the upcoming year:
I would add a few more:
Sustainable diets and reduced food waste in restaurants, hospitals, and grocery stores as well as in the home
Relaxing dietary cholesterol recommendations. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee says that available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol … Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption. Much expectation is present to see if the 300mg cholesterol threshold is modified.
Full fat dairy. Consumption of whole-milk dairy products is on the rise as part of a whole, natural, and real trend, Some argue that there's no association between dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods and obesity, type 2 diabetes, or cardiometabolic risk, and they may be inversely associated with obesity risk. But, the DASH diet and MyPlate still recommend consuming low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
I just finished this crunchy and sweet homemade gift for Christmas. Perfect for my foodie family members! I have recycled my breakfast jam jar and used a nice ribbon for better look. You can mix and match your favorite nuts and mix-ins. It is hard to find cranberries in Argentina, so I made this Holiday mix thanks to my husband who recently travelled to the U.S. He brought me my favorite snack: dried cranberries. If you don´t have them on hand, you can also use raisins, prunes or other dried fruit. I used rice cereal, but also can be replaced by mini pretzels or potato chips. The recipe is sooooo easy that my 3-y.o. daughter helped me out:
1 large egg white
2 cups walnuts, unshelled and raw
1 cup pistachios, unshelled and raw
1 cup peanuts, unshelled and raw
1 ½ cup rice cereal
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and brush a rimmed baking sheet lightly with vegetable oil. Whisk 1 large egg white in a large bowl until frothy. Add the walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and rice cereal. In a small bowl mix the light brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the nut mixture with the sugar blend and toss to coat. Spread the nut mixture evenly on the baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes; let cool on the baking sheet. Then, add the dried cranberries and toss to combine. Makes 4 (1lb) jars.
Have you ever wondered how is to spend the Holidays under the heat? with temperatures between 90 and 100º F? Well, that’s the temperatures we are having in South America for Christmas. It’s summer in the south Hemisphere, so Australians, for example, have similar temps, but not the same traditions.
In Argentina, we have a mix of cultures. Food traditions are a combination of native cuisine and immigration influences from Europe. That’s what makes us different from other Latin American cultures. For example, from the Italian migration influence, dishes such as pasta and pizza are part of the everyday cooking. But, since Argentina is a big producer of high-quality beef and has the largest beef consumption rate in the word, the most typical dish is the asado (beef grilled on an open fire pit) from thegaucho heritage.
So, for the Holidays we eat high calorie foods and treats, typical from Italy and Spain, and also native dishes like asado. Seven out of ten Argentineans celebrate at home for Christmas and New Year’s both Eve and Day to eat some of these specialties: parrillada (mixed barbecue that includes sausages and organ meats), pavita (oven roasted turkey), vittel thoné (chilled veal in a tuna sauce) with ensalada rusa (russian salad), lechón (roasted suckling pig), and matambre arrollado(rolled stuffed thin flank). It may vary depending on the part of the country and on the family heritage, but according to a TNS Gallup survey, 64% of Argentineans prefers these cold meats (maybe for the hot temps), followed by asado. Usually these dishes are accompanied with wine (like the Argentinean Malbec!), and by the end of the meal, dried fruits, nuts, pan dulce(pannetone), and turrón are served with champagne or cider (heritage from Spain and Italy). Pan dulce is a Christmas must have, according to 85% of us. Dinner at Christmas Eve must last at least till 12am, to make a toast for Baby Jesus Nativity and also it´s the time when Santa Claus (Papá Noel) drops the presents while fireworks play in the sky.
In these hot days we should eat more lightly, with plenty of fresh summer fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. Instead, people tend to have a huge Christmas dinner, unusual for hot summer days. It is something cultural and we as dietitians should encourage moderation, portion control and light options to share in our Holiday table.
How you celebrate in your country? Please share your favorite dishes!
On Sunday evening I thought that I should start my week full of energy, so I made this delicious, slightly sweet bread. Ideal for Holiday baking too! It´s an easy, one bowl, no-mixer batter. Ready in less than 1 hour. Here is the recipe:
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup pistachios, finally chopped
Lemon glaze: 1/2 cup superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or as needed for consistency)
1/3 cup pistachios
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 9x5 inches loaf pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder. Mix in the butter, sugar and eggs and stir until ingredients are just combined. Add the lemon zest and juice and pistachios.
Put the mixture in the pan and cook in prehated oven for 40-45 minutes until firm and golden brown.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a rack.
For the glace: mix sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until obtaining a thick paste. Spoon the glaze over the bread and sprinkle with pistachios. Serves 12.
I had it with a fresh homemade orange and peach juice!
From South America: 4 facts you need to know about Peruvian Maca
A friend of mine asked me: “Is it good to take maca? ..the vendor at the healthy food store said it has a lot of benefits”. Even though I practice in South America, I just said the truth: “I don´t know!” and started to look for some evidence. If you -just like me- didn´t know about maca, here you have the facts:
What you need to know about the WHO´s report on red meat and cancer (and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' response)
This week´s press release from World Health Organization (WHO) made a revolution in the media when announcing that both processed meats and red meat will be now classified as carcinogens. After this report, food and nutrition experts in my country -Argentina-, the nation with the second highest consumption of beef in the world, are getting lots of questions from meat lovers: should I give up on beef? How much meat is OK to eat? Here, the facts:
Global dietitians is a fun place to share and network between for food and nutrition professionals from around the world.
My name is Romina Barritta de Defranchi and I am a dietitian from Argentina. I love to travel and learn what food and nutrition professionals are doing abroad. For more info go to the About me section.