Dark Food Photography

“Is that dark photographs of food, or photos of dark food?”, I hear you ask. Well in this case it just so happens to be both.

Food photography is a genre I love, but often struggle with. Just as I’ve figured out how to light food photos to really show off the tasty treats at their best, a new fashion for darker, low-key images has emerged. I’m no follower of fashion, those who have seen how I dress bear witness to this, but I do love these darker, moody images, and have tried and failed to replicate them myself. I needed some help, so just like everybody else, off to YouTube I went.

Over on YouTube I discovered this rather excellent tutorial, entitled “Dark food photography – SHOOTING and EDITING”, presented by channel host Joanie Simon, on The Bite Shot channel. I already subscribe to this channel on YouTube, due in part to Joanie’s very relaxed and fun presentation style, but mainly because of her excellent food photography. Joanie is a most talented photographer, and her presentation style is both charming and natural, yet she doesn’t appear to take herself too seriously. The whole channel is just a joy to watch.

Here’s a link to the video in question.

After studying the video, and gathering as much information from it as possible, I made a trip to my local Hobbycraft store to pick up some supplies, mostly black foam board, popped the camera on a tripod, and started building a setting for something dark yet sweet to take a picture of.

Here’s what I came up with.

Salted caramel and dark chocolate cupcake
Salted caramel and chocolate cupcake

No doubt you will see a certain similarity between Joanie’s composition and my own – hey, great artists steal, right? – although not quite so good, but I did choose to ignore Joanie’s editing methods and use my own. I’ve been slowly improving my editing workflow over the past couple of years, and am happy with my post processing workflow, but if you follow the advice in the video you won’t go far wrong.

I’d just like to say a quick thank you to Joanie and the rest of the team behind The Bite Shot channel for continuing to push out such entertaining and informative content. Thanks guy, and keep up the good work.

If you want more content from Joanie and the gang, as well as a subscribing to the channel on YouTube you can also find them on Instagram and Facebook. Just click the links. ūüôā



I made a video

Video is of course the future of social media. It’s a great medium, and not that most of us have access to faster internet speeds than we did 10 years ago, it’s usage will only continue to grow.

Way back in the later 1980s/early 1990s, I used to video weddings at weekends. Super VHS had just arrived as a format, and I used to run around in a double breasted suit with a camcorder on my shoulder, recording the couple’s happy day.

These days video is a lot different, and most of us will have the ability to record HD 1080p video in our pockets or bags. My biggest issue is that I don’t try. So, in an effort to get back into the medium, and get up to speed on modern methods of editing, I decided to record a short behind the scenes film of me preparing for a portrait session at home.

I do hope you like it, and thanks for watching.


A white wall, some gels, and a pretty girl.

Looks like it has been a while since I last updated this blog. For regular readers I apologise for having left you in the dark for so many weeks. Please allow me to make up for this with a post about a photoshoot where I attempted to transform the front room into a photography studio. I already had some speedlites and a couple of softboxes. All as I needed now was a model.


If truth be told there was only one choice for this photo assignment. I’d worked with Katarina before, knew that we got on well, and that she wouldn’t mind me experimenting without any real clue of what I was doing. Katarina is also a very talented photographer and a really creative artist, so was the perfect person to have around for a few hours of lighting experimentation.


There isn’t a great deal of space in the room I was shooting in, it does however have white walls. If you don’t add any light to your backgrounds, they tend to go dark. A white wall will turn into grey. Plain, uncoloured paint may not be a particularly thrilling background, but if you fire coloured lights at it, the results can be good.

Luckily I’d got hold of some gels for my flashes, and decided to have a go at turning the white walls different colours. I mean who doesn’t want some colour in their life eh?


Hey, now we’re getting somewhere.

For those that don’t know, when shooting with coloured gels, the more you increase the power, the lighter, more washed out, the effect appears to be. I’m using minimal power through a blue gel here, which is why the colour is so deep and vibrant. For a more subtle effect, turn the power of your strobe up, and less colour is thrown. This seem counter-intuitive at first, but is easy to understand after a bit of practice.

For the next shot, we decided that a nice pink colour would be best. Too much red would take away the impact of the red strawberry, so I washed the colour of the red gel out a little by increasing the flash power. This gave us pink rather than bright red.


Next off we went for a green background.


Finishing off with yellow.


I very much enjoyed this photoshoot with Katarina, and was pleasantly surprised what can be achieved with minimal lighting equipment and a blank wall. Hope you have enjoyed the pictures of Katarina, and that fellow photographers may be inspired to get out their flashguns and try firing some coloured lights at your walls.


Learning Landscapes

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. – Pablo Picasso

I love landscape photography, I’m just no good at it. Perhaps saying I’m not good is a little harsh. I know what the problem is: I just don’t try hard enough. Good landscape photography requires effort. There are only so many views of my garden I can create.

With all of this in mind, I decided to get outside and try to capture some landscape and architecture images. Something that will get me out an about, looking at different vistas, and hopefully a little exercise whilst walking from place to place. I’m not quite at the point where I’ll be popping over to Iceland to capture the glaciers under the aurora borealis, or following in the footsteps of Ansel Adams, treking through Yosemite National Park, but anything that gets me off the sofa and practicing my landscape imagery will be a good start.

I’m very fortunate in that I live fairly close to the Peak District, so one evening recently I popped out and tried to capture a scene from the landscape.


This was taken just as the sun was setting. I was hoping that the sky would catch ablaze with the late evening colours as the sun set, but alas this was not to be. Hoping that I’d capture the most brilliant sunset on my first attempt was perhaps a little optimistic.

Next on the agenda was a long exposure featuring water. I’ve seen lots of these images where the long exposure makes the surface of the water appear flat and smooth. I knew in my mind what I wanted, and that was some clouds in the sky that would streak, a flat, still water surface, and a high contrast black and white finish. Blakemere Moss in Delamere Forest, Cheshire provided just the scene I was looking for.

Blakemere Moss, Delamere Forest, Cheshire.

At home we’re members of the National Trust. We like to visit places on holidays in the UK, and to go for days out. I’ve already written about visiting , where I concentrated on the autumn colours. This time I wanted to take a picture of the house, but also captured a little of the wildlife whilst I was there.

The house at Dunham Massey Damselfly

I know the damsel fly image doesn’t count as a landscape, but I like it and this is my blog so it’s going in. ūüôā

And now that elusive sunset. I’m very fortunate in that I get to visit Scotland quite regularly. If you want a beautiful landscape, stunning scenery, or inspirational view, then there are few places around the world that can match it. Of course Scotland obliged me with the colourful sky I was looking for.

Scottish Sunset

So far I’ve enjoyed my time learning how to take better landscape images. There is still much to learn, but the journey is going to be a very interesting one, and something I am very much looking forward to.

As always, thank you for reading.

Early evening photoshoot with Katarina Marie

Shooting with experienced models always fills me with confidence. If they’re also photographers then I know the results will be good. Katarina Marie is one such “modelographer”, talented on both sides of the lens; a true artist.

For our first photoshoot together we decided that we should head up to Largs on the west coast of Scotland. We wanted to capture some of the late afternoon sun, and if the weather wasn’t with us at least there would be ice cream at the world famous Nardini’s. Fortunately we did get some sun, and so here are the photos we created together.


First look was in the bag, so Katarina did a quick costume change and we walked along the coast a little and found a shelter which we thought would look good.



There is no point going to the coast if you’re not going to visit the beach, so after getting bogged down in some deep sand we eventually found a nice section of the beach we could shoot at.



We’ve now got some great images stored, but the sun was starting to set and we were losing the light fast. A quick costume change and a chance to capture the last throws¬†of daylight.


As the sun set we started to notice some beautiful colour in the sky so tried to record that too.



I think we managed to fulfil our brief of capturing the late afternoon and early evening sun. This time of day, golden hour and beyond, is a great time to create photographs. There is almost magic in the light, and something I should do more of.¬†Sadly we didn’t get to visit Nardini’s for ice cream, but I am very happy with the images we created together. This would not be the last time I shot with Katarina, but that’s a story for another day.


Making a cup of tea

I dont get the chance to create much video, but that’s something I’m in the process of changing. I love the drama that can be captured in a moment of time with a photograph, but for telling a story, moving pictures are hard to beat.

I created this video as an exercise in short, snappy edits, but also to try out some Foley sound recording techniques, all the while keeping in mind the idea of story. This story was simply about tea. What better story could there be?

Hope you like it.



I’ve given my blog a bit of a makeover. When I first started to write down my mutterings, I paid little attention to the layout of the site. I chose one of the first themes that the blog hosting company throws at you, and left it at that.

Well now it is much improves. There is a slider with some of my favourite featured posts, a portfolio of the type of images I like to create, and of course the standard blog posts. The site is now responsive for those viewing on small sized screens in this modern, mobile age.

Hope you like the changes, and if there is anything you’d like to see please let me know.


30 minute photo challenge

I read somewhere a blog post about a quick 30 minute photo challenge. The basic idea is you walk for 10 minutes, any direction you fancy, take photos for 10 minutes of what you find there, and then walk back home, which should take you approximately the final 1o minutes of the 30.

This time and location restriction should really focus your eye on capturing subjects in short space of time. No faffing about with different gear and gadgets, just get there and start snapping.

I fancied having a go, so at lunchtime today I put on a hat and coat, picked up my camera, and walked for ten minutes and started shooting. Here are the results.

An old car
Rain on some tiny leaves
An abandoned rucksack
Abandoned cycle helmet
Identification numbers

I quite enjoyed completing this challenge today. I only used one lens, my trusty 50mm, for this. I think I’ll have another go at this but each time try a different lens, just to mix things up a bit. I’m thinking that a macro lens will really lent itself to this sort of challenge, so may try that next.

Vegan rice pudding

I’m not a vegan, nor am I claiming to be one. I’m your classic omnivore, although I do seem to have developed a number of sympathies to the vegan way of thinking of late. Recently, my work has taken me away from home a lot, and this has included a lot of motorway driving. Passing the trucks on the way to the slaughterhouse, scared snouts and noses poking through the gaps in the crates makes me feel sad; seeing the trucks empty even more so.¬†I toyed with vegetarianism for just over half a year in the 1990s, but once I fell off that wagon I never tried to get back on it.

The more I’ve been thinking about these issues, the more I’ve been wanting to make a change. I decided in October that I would do something about it. When I’ve been working away, which has been a lot during the latter part of 2016, I stopped buying and cooking meat. I would not claim to be a vegetarian for those three or four¬†days per week, there was no announcement or change of lifestyle, I just stopped buying meat when I went shopping, and would experiment with solely meat free ingredients whist preparing dinner. No big deal.

When I’m away and cooking, I’m generally looking for something I can take a photo of. I’ve spoken before about my yearning to improve my skills with food photography¬†and I need to practice.¬†Also, I don’t like to post too many pictures of meat dishes on social media. I understand it can be quite a divisive subject, with many strong opinions on all sides. So, one November evening I decided to cook something for dinner, without meat, specifically so I could take a photo or two to share. I was looking for something with a mixture of bright colours, plenty texture, and steam, just as an exercise¬†in backlighting the steam for maximum effect. The resulting dish was a stir fry, as seen here.

Tonight's dinner.

As I was writing the copy for the photo I realised that had I not used butter when creating the sauce, as well as being suitable for vegetarians, this dish would have also been vegan friendly. Had I made a little more effort or put a tiny bit more thought into it, this dish would have been suitable for a much wider audience. Oh well, it wasn’t my intention to create a vegan dish, just to take a nice photo and enjoy my dinner. This did however get me thinking about trying to cook some vegan food that would look good for a photo. I decided to give rice pudding a go because, well, because it’s rice pudding and I bloody love that stuff.

After some careful research into the ingredients – who knew that some sugars are filtered through bone charcoal – I was all set. I cobbled together a recipe from a few other, non vegan ones I found on line, had a practice, did a bit of fine tuning, and ended up with this.

  • 1 x measure of pudding or risotto rice. I used a shallow ramekin for my measure, but anything will do. It all depends on how much you want to make.
  • 3 x measure of vegan milk. I chose Alpro hazelnut milk, the unsweetened variety, but there are plenty of soy milk and nut milk options to pick.
  • 1 x measure of water.
  • 1 x measure of sugar. I used Tate & Lyle Demerara sugar, because it is vegan friendly and I usually have¬†Demerara sugar handy if I fancy sweetening my coffee a little.
  • It is as this point you will wish you had added the sugar before the milk and water as your ramekin is all wet and lots of the sugar is stuck to the bottom of it.

Pop all of the ingredients into a pan, and get it on the heat. Once this is going you will need a very low heat. Cook it for about 45 to 60 minutes, until the rice is soft and scrumptious. Don’t leave this simmering alone for long periods of time or it will stick to the bottom of the pan.

If the mixture is a little too thick for your liking then loosen it with a little more milk or water.

I chose to top my rice pudding with some of the Co-Operative’s “Extra fruity strawberry conserve” from their “Irresistible” range, and also grated some freshly ground nutmeg on top. Next time I may try some Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup instead. You could of course choose to simply enjoy it as it is.

“Where’s the photo” I hear you ask. Ta dah!


Please feel free to comment in the comments section below if you have any questions, if you tried this and liked it.

If you have any vegan recipes you would like to share then I’m sure you will find some like minded people in the Promoting veganism group on Facebook.