MellsBells Posted 27 Jan 2014 , 4:42pm
post #1 of

Since I put a lot of time into decorating my cakes, I would like to take the best possible photographs of them.  Are there any tips or tricks to highlight the cake?  When you scroll through cake decorator's photos of their cakes, the pictures look crisp, clean, clutter-free & simply beautiful.  I would love to achieve similar results!  Thank you.

29 replies
-K8memphis Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 12:29am
post #2 of

i am a dud at photography--i know that a few times i've caught a picture of my cake in the fridge and that little light up above really enhanced the whole deal--so i learned that by accident--and to hold my breath when i squeeze the button--also i try to pin my elbows to my side--

 

sunlight--sunlight is best--even trot stuff outside is a great idea (not when it's 20 below--not that that needs to be mentioned agh)

 

and that is about all i've allowed myself to learn about it--there are great photographers on here though so hopefully someone smart will pipe up for you

MBalaska Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 12:46am
post #3 of

There must be tutorials, and even one of those Craft classes for photography.  I've seen books on 'food' photography in book stores. 

 

It is always disappointing to make a cake, carefully pick the colors you want, then click a pik and it looks awful.  You will notice that the nicest cakes usually have the most professional photography.≈

costumeczar Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 1:25am
post #4 of

If you're photographing your cakes at home, look into making a lightbox, there are lots of articles online about how to do that. If you're photographing them at the reception site for weddings you're more limited because the light in those palces is usually terrible, so you just need to learn how to use your camera. The custom white balance is the best tool I've found to really get the best color, then changing the lighting using photoshop later helps if necessary. http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2013/03/taking-better-photos.html

rexygirl Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 2:15am
post #5 of

AAgreed with costumeczar my hubby is a photog and he keeps buggin me about gettin a light box (or making one) but my ration is I don't do enough cakes to keep a light box stored, but I'm starting to see his point I want better pics of my cakes:)

bakingkat Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 5:46am
post #6 of

A little contrast and saturation can go a long way in making a cake look great in a picture. I've been doing that for a while but still always liked the photographers pictures better than my own. A couple weeks ago I took about 500 pics of 2 different dummy cakes going in every room and random place I could think of until I found the best light/background. You could be surprised. Experiment and find what works best for you. Try different angles/backgrounds/props etc.  I used this post long ago to start editing my photos http://www.lilaloa.com/2012/01/photo-editing-for-cookie-makers-not.html  

 

Here are some of my favorite pics from my 500 photo session. 

 

 

 

MBalaska Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 8:31am
post #7 of

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

If you're photographing your cakes at home, look into making a lightbox, there are lots of articles online about how to do that. If you're photographing them at the reception site for weddings you're more limited because the light in those palces is usually terrible, so you just need to learn how to use your camera. The custom white balance is the best tool I've found to really get the best color, then changing the lighting using photoshop later helps if necessary.

 

http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2013/03/taking-better-photos.html

 

Is this a point and shoot Canon camera, or a more complicated one.  Your white balance in your blog is pretty cool.  That was interesting, about our brains making things right for us.

MBalaska Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 8:33am
post #8 of

Quote:

Originally Posted by bakingkat 
 

A little contrast and saturation can go a long way in making a cake look great in a picture. I've been doing that for a while but still always liked the photographers pictures better than my own. A couple weeks ago I took about 500 pics of 2 different dummy cakes going in every room and random place I could think of until I found the best light/background. You could be surprised. Experiment and find what works best for you. Try different angles/backgrounds/props etc.  I used this post long ago to start editing my photos http://www.lilaloa.com/2012/01/photo-editing-for-cookie-makers-not.html

 

your cakes are incredible, it reminds me of why I like to visit Seattle as often as possible.

Stitches Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 2:55pm
post #9 of

I believe in only using natural sun light, only.

 

 

If I can take something outside I can get the most perfect photographs. The sun gives the most brilliant full color spectrum that artificial lights just can't match. 

 

But where I live it's cloudy probably 50% of the time so I have to shoot indoors. For that I've found my sliding glass door in my kitchen gives me the most even lighting of all the windows in my home. I put a sheet of white foam core on my kitchen table and prop one up right in a chair to create a cheap "light box". The white helps reflex the sun onto my cake and eliminates background images.

 

Once upon a time I liked showing a natural setting like the examples in bakingkat's post. But in time I always regret having a background behind my cakes....because it dates the image...like a funky bridesmaid dress. (Although professional photographers can make backgrounds work so brilliantly, I just can't.)

 

Here's what my foam core setup looks like when I shoot:

 

 

It's not perfect like costumeczar mentions in her blog, the white is more of a blue. Than I use my Photoshop software to crop my photos and I can auto correct the white tone to correct my bluish white.

 

 

Still never as good as a outside natural shot............

liz at sugar Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 3:02pm

I agree natural light is best, and it is even better coming from windows on the north side of your shop/home/office, if you must be indoors.  That is for continental U.S. - I'm sure that rule varies depending of where you are in the world, but it is the most even light, for both photography, and painting portraits.

 

Liz

costumeczar Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 3:43pm

A

Original message sent by MBalaska

Is this a point and shoot Canon camera, or a more complicated one.  Your white balance in your blog is pretty cool.  That was interesting, about our brains making things right for us.

I have a canon EOS rebel, so it's an SLR but it's not an expensive one. Some of the newer point and shoots actually do have settings that you can adjust, so I guess it would depend on your camera.

Crazy-Gray Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 4:07pm

AI have 3 roller blinds on my wall: black, white and empty to which I add patterned wall paper. these 'store' my backdrops really nicely.

If you can't get good natural light go for:

A flash or strong lamp pointing away from the cake with something white to bounce off- think of it like hitting a snooker ball off the cushion- the light has to bounce off and come back toward the cake at an angle, hitting the cake straight on with the flash is too harsh.

if you don't have a flash/lamp use a high wattage bulb not an energy saver and not LED light - try not to shadow your cake when you stand in front of it

lighting from above with a cooker hood light looks good, use nice white or black foam core as an easy backdrop

If using an SLR use the lowest ISO you can to reduce noise, use tripod or a beanbag on the back of a chair to keep your hand steady (turn the chair sideways and kneel on it), if you still get shaky hand blur set a timer so you can press the shutter button and then keep still :-)

MellsBells Posted 28 Jan 2014 , 6:31pm

Thank you!

sweettales Posted 29 Jan 2014 , 9:18am

Inspired by a collection of a beautiful tea set.

 

Hi everybody, I too have a Cannon EOS rebel, mine is an older version. I used to feel all the time as if my camera was in control and it was :) - I have been taking some time to learn a bit about photography as I feel that is one of those things that we need in the cake industry in order to brand our image better. I certainly do not have the funds to hire a photographer every time I have a cake ready to go, so I been learning on my own. I am actually starting a blog within the following weeks in which I will talk and provide more info on the subject. 

 

There are 3 elements to keep in mind:

 

1. Aperture: Referring to the size of the opening of the lens. Also known as the f/stop

2. Shutter Speed: The amount of time that the camera sensor is exposed to light when a photograph is being taken. This is measured in seconds or fractions of seconds.

3. ISO: It measures how sensitive the sensor is to the light.

 

I love photography that is bright, clean and as such taking pics during the day is better than later in the day. Keep in mind that the higher your f/stop number, the smaller your aperture and the less light that comes in. The lower the f/stop number, the larger the aperture, which leads to more light. 

 

Elizabeth Houde 

Crazy-Gray Posted 29 Jan 2014 , 10:53am

A

Quote:

Originally Posted by sweettales

 

There are 3 elements to keep in mind:

 

1. Aperture: Referring to the size of the opening of the lens. Also known as the f/stop

2. Shutter Speed: The amount of time that the camera sensor is exposed to light when a photograph is being taken. This is measured in seconds or fractions of seconds.

3. ISO: It measures how sensitive the sensor is to the light.

 

Elizabeth Houde 

 

The order in which to consider these three is generally:

1 - how blurry do I want the background? The wider the aperture (the lower the f-stop number) the blurrier the background will be, standing back and zooming in makes this effect even stronger, this work even with point and press cameras. A low number like F3.5 will have only a thin part of your cake in focus, the rest in front and behind that point will be out of focus; this is a lovely effect for close-ups. F20 or more will likely keep your whole cake in focus but you will need more light (or a slower shutter speed).

2 - so, you have chosen what you want you picture to look like, now you have to balance ISO and shutter speed so your picture isn’t too dark or too light. You want the lowest ISO possible e.g. 50 or 100, as this reduces the grainy noise making lovely sharp pictures, but the smaller the ISO number the longer the shutter speed you will need so if you can't keep the camera still with a tripod and self timer setting (so you don't nudge the camera letting go of the shutter button!) then you have to increase either the ISO or the light in the room (more lamps or a camera flash or wait for a sunny day). Usually a shutter speed of 200 or more is fast enough to cancel out shaky hands especially if you can lean on something. Try not to go above ISO 800 unless your camera is an amazing SLR or you will get lots of noise.

Take lots of pictures going through the settings and delete the pants ones :-)

ps lovely cake, setup and photo Elizabeth!

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 29 Jan 2014 , 11:18am

Like everyone said above.  Few other things I do...

 

1) Taking your photos from afar with a long lens to get the whole cake in focus better.  I use my other half's SLR which is fairly basic and if I take photographs close up with his fixed lens, it can't keep the whole cake in focus.  Sometimes I like that effect but for a full cake shot, I find taking it from a long way away and zooming in is easier.

 

2) If you have a Mac, check out the iPhoto editing software as well.  Photoshop is awesome but a photographer friend recently told me how he uses the iPhoto software more for general colour editing.  I was reluctant at first but it is much easier I think :-)

 

3) Lightboxes can be really cheap!  There are loads of 'how to make a lightbox' online as well but my lightbox only cost about £40.  It's a home lightbox and folds away flat with little pockets on it for the lights to keep everything together.  Again, took some time to get the camera lighting right with it but it now comes out for every cake :-)

 

4) If you aren't already, use a tripod!!  Especially if you are using slow shutter speeds, I think it's the only way to keep it from blurring (even with the super stable hands we decorators usually have).  I put the camera on a tripod with a 5 second capture delay so there is absolutely no movement when the picture is taken.

 

5) I've also found it useful to buy rolls of cheap wallpaper to complement your cakes and give them a nice background.  In the past, I used to use a contrasting background and then delete it but it was fiddly and I'm not sure I liked the effect as much. I figured you would usually align a cake to the venue it was going to be displayed, so why not do that with photographs...

 

Good luck

dreamacres Posted 29 Jan 2014 , 1:32pm

photo editing has a learning curve but I like the results

LeanneW Posted 29 Jan 2014 , 11:32pm

We did a post a while back of an article we published in the very first issue of Cake Central Magazine. We have some great tips on how to photograph your cakes well without breaking the bank on equipment.

 

http://cakecentral.com/b/tutorial/cake-photography-tips

Jackie Posted 29 Jan 2014 , 11:58pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by LeanneW 
 

We did a post a while back of an article we published in the very first issue of Cake Central Magazine. We have some great tips on how to photograph your cakes well without breaking the bank on equipment.

 

http://cakecentral.com/b/tutorial/cake-photography-tips

 

 

For that tutorial we used an 8 Megapixel $70 Olympus Point-and-shoot Digital Camera to create our good photo next to the “Do” list

We left the camera in Auto mode and turned off the flash. As you can see from the diagram, we used 3 desk lamps we purchased at a second hand store for a few bucks (you can also get really inexpensive new desk lamps at places like IKEA and Target) and a cheap neutral bed sheet. In total, including the camera, we spent under $100. If you already have a camera, bed sheets, and some lamps you can recreate what we did for FREE, or purchase some new items and the supplies should last for quite a while.

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 30 Jan 2014 , 10:31am

I am curious to know how much people do edit their photographs digitally?  And what do you feel is acceptable?

 

For example, if it just playing around with the colour/backgrounds to make it a more accurate representation of the actual colour of the cake or do you also use it to remove imperfections?  I know both are common in the photography industry in general (i'm sure we've all seen how celeb bums are made smaller ;-) but I'm curious to know how people feel about this in a food/cake context...  I've personally only ever changed the colour (I still find it so difficult to make a white cake actually look white on a photograph!!) but yesterday I managed to dig my smoother into the side of a finished and otherwise flawlessly covered cake (grr).   The temptation to zap it was huge but I personally don't feel comfortable doing that.  General thoughts?  x

costumeczar Posted 30 Jan 2014 , 12:47pm

A

Original message sent by Snowflakebunny23

I am curious to know how much people do edit their photographs digitally?  And what do you feel is acceptable?

For example, if it just playing around with the colour/backgrounds to make it a more accurate representation of the actual colour of the cake or do you also use it to remove imperfections?  I know both are common in the photography industry in general (i'm sure we've all seen how celeb bums are made smaller ;-) but I'm curious to know how people feel about this in a food/cake context...  I've personally only ever changed the colour (I still find it so difficult to make a white cake actually look white on a photograph!!) but yesterday I managed to dig my smoother into the side of a finished and otherwise flawlessly covered cake (grr).   The temptation to zap it was huge but I personally don't feel comfortable doing that.  General thoughts?  x

That's a very good question...i don't like to use it to adjust anything other than the light. If you do more than that you're misrepresenting yourself, IMO. It can go both ways, though, which is something that I didn't think about until I had a psycho bride with a complaint that kept changing when the first complaint was shown to be false. She inspired the post on the way people can potentially use photoshop to rip bakers off. But if you're using it to make your cakes look smoother and more perfect then you're ripping customers off. http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2010/08/photoshop-part-1-brides-friend-or-foe.html http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2010/08/photoshop-part-2-enemy-of-baker.html

Also, here's one that I found about adjusting levels in photo editing software, which is a really easy fix for a lot of light/dark issues. http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2012/10/photoshop-and-cakes.html

Crazy-Gray Posted 30 Jan 2014 , 1:27pm

AI happily fix lighting and compoition particularly if I couldn't get the picture I wanted-I forgot the battery for my good camera in this pic and had to use the backup... I wont fix imperfections though unless perhaps if it was something I later spotted and fixed.

[IMG]http://cakecentral.com/content/type/61/id/3177009/width/200/height/400[/IMG]

For this image I altered Contrast Levels Colour balance Saturation Cropped to better frame Added gaussian blur

It would have been faster just to take it right in the first place!

Ps not my cake design and not as well finished as the original :-(

sweettales Posted 30 Jan 2014 , 2:56pm

I happily fix lighting and compoition particularly if I couldn't get the picture I wanted-I forgot the battery for my good camera in this pic and had to use the backup...
I wont fix imperfections though unless perhaps if it was something I later spotted and fixed.



For this image I altered
Contrast
Levels
Colour balance
Saturation
Cropped to better frame
Added gaussian blur

It would have been faster just to take it right in the first place!

Ps not my cake design and not as well finished as the original icon_sad.gif

=====

 

I like the change in the picture and how the back is blur. I don't crop or fix cakes with any program, I agree such will be misrepresenting my name and my brand. The one thing I am going to start doing is water marking photos since I notice my photos are showing up on other sites, which will be fine if we got the credit, but we are not. 

costumeczar Posted 30 Jan 2014 , 4:51pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by sweettales 
 

I happily fix lighting and compoition particularly if I couldn't get the picture I wanted-I forgot the battery for my good camera in this pic and had to use the backup...
I wont fix imperfections though unless perhaps if it was something I later spotted and fixed.



For this image I altered
Contrast
Levels
Colour balance
Saturation
Cropped to better frame
Added gaussian blur

It would have been faster just to take it right in the first place!

Ps not my cake design and not as well finished as the original icon_sad.gif

=====

 

I like the change in the picture and how the back is blur. I don't crop or fix cakes with any program, I agree such will be misrepresenting my name and my brand. The one thing I am going to start doing is water marking photos since I notice my photos are showing up on other sites, which will be fine if we got the credit, but we are not.

Oh yes, watermark those puppies! Chances are that if people are too lazy to take their own pictures they're too lazy to take the time to remove a watermark, so they'll just move on to the next unmarked photo and steal that one instead of yours.

MBalaska Posted 31 Jan 2014 , 4:32am

After reading all of the links and info that you folks posted, I tried it on the MMF covered cake. Even without the exact lights, or a light box & such.  The photo came out so well that it actually made the fondant look better than it was.  ( That would really be false for me to post and pretend that it was done perfectly my eyeballs saw every tiny flaw.) however it's nice to learn the ways to improve photography.  As my decorating improves, now so will my photography improve.

 

♦ and my little point-n-shoot did have a 'white' thing you could click on.  So much to learn in the field of photography, I'm glad I don't have a business, I'd never keep up.♦

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 31 Jan 2014 , 8:58am

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 


She inspired the post on the way people can potentially use photoshop to rip bakers off. But if you're using it to make your cakes look smoother and more perfect then you're ripping customers off. http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2010/08/photoshop-part-1-brides-friend-or-foe.html
http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2010/08/photoshop-part-2-enemy-of-baker.html

Also, here's one that I found about adjusting levels in photo editing software, which is a really easy fix for a lot of light/dark issues. http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2012/10/photoshop-and-cakes.html

Interesting comments, thanks everyone :-)  I'd never thought about someone using photoshop to rip off a baker but guess it makes perfect sense (in a dishonest and messed up sort of way).  Definitely something to watch out for.

 

Now to go and get out the camera for 4 more cake shots.  Too bad it't miserable, grey and chucking it down with rain here in the UK… Have a great day everyone!

Daisyblue002 Posted 31 Jan 2014 , 11:46am

Agree with all the fabulous advice mentioned above. I have a Canon EOS 1100D but haven't figured out how to use it to it's full advantage so stuck in Auto mode at the moment. I take full advantage of natural light, use a neutral background and tweak lighting issues in the free software Picmonkey (you can also add a watermark in PicMonkey). I've never re-touched any blemishes, but will happily play around with lighting issues to make the background whiter/brighter etc and contrast a little to bring out features. Somestimes I might take 20+ photos but only 1 will be the 'money shot' :)

Daisyblue002 Posted 31 Jan 2014 , 11:59am

P.S Forgot to say that there's some good tips on the Debbie Doo's blog; how to photo your creation and edit it a little in PicMonkey - http://debbie-debbiedoos.com/2013/05/how-to-edit-your-craft-projects-and-make-them-pinnable-on-pinterest.html

ria123 Posted 3 Feb 2014 , 5:49pm

Just wondering if any of you have seen these?

Not sure if they are any good as I know nothing about photography, but thought I would post for you to have a look at and decide for yourselves.

Nice and affordable :)

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&_nkw=photo+light+box+tent&_sop=15

shaunana Posted 3 Feb 2014 , 6:22pm

Seamless paper works really nice for a clean, smooth background.  I always use a soft natural light (not harsh afternoon sun). Also, a 50mm f1.4 or f1.8 fixed lens is nice for taking shots indoors when you might not have as much of a light source, because it can allow in more light on the sensor when taking the shot.  Just be cautious that the larger the aperture (smaller the f-stop), the more light falls on the sensor, which makes for a faster shutter speed; however it makes for a smaller depth of field, so you'll have more bokeh to your photos (blurred background). Maybe get a couple different lenses for your different needs.  Good luck to you!

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%