…you gonna eat that?!

TopazLabs, whose software I use quite a bit in my processing, asked me to write a post for their blog.  If you don’t know TopazLabs, then…well…here’s the post.  If you enjoy making photographs, you should get to know TopazLabs and take advantage of the 30-day free trials for any of their products. They are a large part of my ‘workflow’…..

Topaz B&W Effects

(Topaz B&W Effects)

Everywhere you look, one of the most popular subjects for photography is food. The ‘food paparazzi’ are legion.  The drawback I see with so many meals being shared on social media sites and surprisingly, also on some restaurant web-sites, is the lack of allure that some of the photography renders.  If I’m photographing a Chef’s ‘ plate’, I want it to appear as tantalizing ‘on-screen’ as it does in person, and I shudder at going to a web-site and coming away with, “Well, the ingredients sound intriguing, but the picture certainly didn’t look appetizing!”

Topaz light pop smooth

(Topaz Adjust Light Pop Smooth)

Food photographer Teri Campbell, (whose work I guarantee you have seen somewhere or another), states something to the effect of,
The challenge in food photography is in illustrating a  subject that engages all of the senses and trying to project the sight, touch, smell, taste and even the sound… the ambience… in two dimensions.

Topaz Adjust Detail Medium(Topaz Adjust Medium Detail)

The professional…no… the expert/high-end commercial food photographer often has the luxury of  utilizing the talents of  food stylists, a battery of lighting equipment and/or locations and props,  and the benefit of insisting on 200 buns or 3000 chips from which to glean the perfect 1…

The Hero…

Taking into consideration that the majority of food photography is just ‘Us’ with a camera and a plate of food, I asked the crew at The Chef and I Catering, in Nashville, if I might tag along to one of their events to see what I could come up with.
All of the photos on this post were shot ‘hand-held’ in a very low-light venue.  There were small spotlights in some areas and in some instances I used a speedlight, on camera, pointed at the ceiling, or a wall…NEVER directly at the food.

Topaz Adjust Detail Light

(Topaz Adjust Detail Light… plus cropped, and I moved the dish on the right for a better composition, which SHOULD have been done in camera…doh!!)

First tip….(which you will find probably in any food photography book or article…)
Side or back-light is always preferable to bring out the textures of the food.  Now, that means you may have to have someone hold up a white napkin.. a small mirror…anything you can find… as a reflector for the front, or, as I did on some of these shots, I held one of these white plates to the side of the subject while shooting.


I then relied on Topaz Adjust 5 to bring out the areas that just were not quite up to par in the capture.  Things I saw that the camera didn’t react to as my eyes did.

French Countryside

(Topaz Adjust French Countryside)

The above shot, due to shooting without a tripod,  was a little motion soft…you can see the specular highlights become squiggly worms instead of dots…

(oooh…I probably should have used a better word than worms in a food post…)

So… I found French Countryside in Topaz Adjust and enhanced and accentuated the softness of the scene while masking the bacon to hold as much sharpness as possible there.

I’ll admit that I am not adept at teaching, and not terribly ‘tech-savvy’ with screen-shots and such, so what I am showing are the ‘befores’ and ‘afters’ and the filters used, without going into exact parameters.  These are more fun to  work out for your own individual style and for each individual photo.
(I find that once I open Topaz, I want to see EVERY possibility, and use the ‘snapshot’ tool quite often.)

These next groups are not before and after, but simply some that I thought worked well.  For the befores and afters, I posted some more from this ‘shoot’ at


in a ‘Set’ titled ‘Topaz Adjust Before and After’  (Though the way they lined up on Flickr, it should be called “After and Before”.



This is the original of the opening B&W Effects photo and the ‘after’ using Topaz Adjust Photo Pop.

Topaz Adjust PhotoPop

And…allowing for the situation where sometimes a phone is the closest camera, this last one, the tomato bouquet, is an Android photo at a different location and day,  ‘beefed up’…pardon the pun…with Lightroom for saturation, then Adjust and finally Topaz DeNoise.

Android, LR3 and Topaz

I would always prefer a bright window and a light airy feel to shooting food, but, hey…It’s what the heck you do with what the heck you’ve got!

Topaz Adjust allowed me to accentuate some areas of these dishes and also to compensate for, or create, a look that just wasn’t there, as far as the camera could record.  I suggest always opening Topaz filters on a new layer, then you can click back and forth and sometimes I find that if the full use of a filter looks good but maybe a little over-the-top, I can lower the fill on that layer until it looks good enough to eat!

Feel free to visit my web-site at www.rkpowersphoto.com.  My own blog is there and I sometimes talk about things photographic and sometimes….not.  Or ‘Like’ rkpowersphoto on Facebook.  I would be glad to see you in either place.

And don’t forget….your images will be around much longer than that masterpiece on the plate in front of you!!!!  Take the time to savor both!

~ by rkpowers on April 25, 2013.

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