[SG] Food photography with Nikon Df | Part II – Surviving dim lighting

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It was one of those lazy days where we woke up late and decided to tuck ourselves into a hearty brunch. Having heard much about the new wave of cafes and coffee movement created at the quaint estate of Everton Park, we decided to make a trip down!

1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 1000, 25 mm
We stepped into a cosy-looking café which has a fair share of dark spots. While it may not be the best for food photographers, it certainly set the mood for a relaxing brunch affair!

When our food and latte was served, they looked too delicious to reject a shot and I conveniently took out my smartphone to snap a quick shot, though it was overwhelmed by the café’s dim lighting. With my Nikon Df in my camera bag, I decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised by how crisp and clear the images turned out!

1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 2000, 45 mm
I started with a relatively high ISO of 2000 to see if the high light sensitivity setting could help capture the beautiful colours on the plate. I maintained a minimum shutter speed of 1/60s to eliminate any potential issues with handshakes and the composition set at a focal length of 45 mm. With these settings, I struck an optimal shot with the right exposure compensation as guided by the gauge in the camera’s viewfinder. With pockets of spotlight cast at the walls, I was really surprised at how rich and vibrant the colours turned out for my shot!

1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 2000, 50 mm
Nobody resists snapping a shot of a beautifully illustrated latte art and we are no exception. With a focus on capturing the latte art, I zoomed in sufficiently to 50 mm and maintained a bokeh effect with a chosen aperture of f/2.8 while maintaining my ISO at 2000. Similar settings were applied for the following shot on the waffles with sliced bananas and chocolate sauce.

1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 2000, 40 mm
While most photographers would be particular about the image noise (inaudible image variations such as film grains) that becomes quite apparent with high ISO settings, I decided to push it further by adjusting to ISO 2500 for my next shot to see if the Nikon Df can still support the harsher conditions.
1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 2500, 50 mm
Despite a higher ISO setting of 2500, the image noise was hardly visible and this made it perfect for shooting under such dim lighting without creating excessive distraction to the food.

When it comes to food photography, I believe most would agree that the lack of good light sources is one of our largest nemeses. More often than not, restaurant and café owners would focus on creating the perfect ambience for their guests by having spotlights or soft touches of warm lights at the corners such as this particular cafe which we visited. This often cries out ‘help’ from the photographer’s point of view, especially if you are craving to do justice to a nicely presented dish by photographing it well.

How is it like to shoot food pictures outdoors? Stay tuned for our final part of food photography in our next post!

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