About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

Quick & Dirty Food Photography with the Fujifilm XE1

Quick & Dirty Food Photography with the Fujifilm XE1

Soup in a bowl with steam rising

Soup in a bowl with steam rising I've been doing some testing over the last little while, and I wanted to share some of my findings.  First of all, I realise that the term "dirty" is probably not the most appropriate word to use when talking about food, but that's the best way to describe what I wanted to do. I have been conducting some tests for an upcoming project. I wanted to be able to find a way to take good quality food shots, but not have the process of photography interfere with the actual process of cooking. I needed it to be as simple as possible, but still give high quality results. There are lots of problems to this project that need to be solved, but the first was choosing the right camera. I could go full on with my D700 and big lenses, but that kind of defeats the "fly on the wall" approach that the project needs, so I decided to see if my XE1 could do as a stand in.

The one thing I didn't want to have to do was use a lot of lights. In fact, I didn't want to have to use any lights. The XE1 is pretty good in low light, and while It's not quite as clean as my D700, for this it worked perfectly well. I was using the 35mm prime 1.4 lens which helped in the low light situation. Where I'm currently shooting has lots of light, but even within that you need to account for shadows and dark corners. Again, the purpose of the test was to see how well I could do with minimum equipment and minimum set up.

The first test was a soup recipe. I took shots throughout the cooking process in the kitchen, without stopping to do any elaborate setups. The little fuji worked great. for most of the shots, it performed admirably. I did resort to my D700 for one set of shots (which I haven't posted here - these are all from the XE1), but that was mainly because I wanted to get some macro shots, and I don't have the 60mm for my XE1. I couldn't really get any closer either without burning myself or the camera. Being able to frame with the LCD really makes a big difference too. I know you could use live view on a DSLR but it's just not the same in terms of flexibility.

Here are some of the photographs taken during the cooking process. I started with a prep shot of all the ingredients. The idea is that these will eventually be part of an instructional set of images to go with recipes:

Stirring the Vegetables Ingredients ready for cooking Pearl Barley Soup on the boil Spoon in the pot stirring the vegetables Steam coming from the pot

I'm pretty happy with how these came out. They are only tests, and I know they're not as good as a professional studio shoot would be, but still, for quick and dirty I think they turned out pretty well. I processed the files in Aperture, and I have to say, I really like the look of how Aperture renders the images. These haven't really been processed much either. Aperture's default conversion gives really nice punchy colours. I've tweaked a few shots, and mostly it was just to add a bit of contrast, but for the most part these are straight out of the camera.

Here's a few shots of the finished product. I wasn't really focussing on the background as these are only tests, so I know it's a bit busy.

Cheese on toast ready for chunky vegetable soup Soup and Cheese

And here's another food shot from a different session, again using the XE-1, and again, pretty much straight out of the camera:

Parma ham and Tomato Salad

I hope you enjoyed this quick taster (pardon the pun!) More on this project as at progresses so stay tuned!


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