Backyard BBQ / by Andrew Dacey


Continuing with my experimenting with food photography I recently took my camera out while grilling some steaks on my Weber charcoal BBQ. All of the food is real, as is the fire. And in case anyone is wondering, I have no relationship with Weber or any charcoal companies. I do happen to think that Weber makes a pretty good grill though.

Again, I used my Tamron 90mm 2.5 macro lens for these shots. I really like getting in close and capturing details of the food and this lens is great for that. It is manual focus though but that's not as much of a drawback when shooting macro photography (or near macro in this case).

What proved to be a bit more of a challenge was using the camera handheld. I was really tired that night and almost didn't take my camera out to shoot the food as it was cooking. In the end though I decided to bite the bullet and try to get a few shots since I'd be out there anyway. But, this meant that I was being a little lazy and didn't take my tripod out. In some ways that was useful as it really allowed me to work quickly but I did also loose a lot of shots due to being slightly off in my focusing since the depth of field is so shallow when working this close.

All of this was shot with natural light, it was in the evening and the sun was starting to go down so I got fairly soft light as my main light. I also really like how the fire adds a nice underglow in a lot of the shots I selected here. I feel this really helps add to the feel. I ended up shooting in continuous low quite a bit for this shoot in order to increase my odds of capturing flames or sparks. I also think this helps improve your chances when shooting macro as slight shifts in movement while shooting can really throw off the focus and shooting continuously really helps improve your odds of getting a few shots that are sharp where you want them to be.

As I think I've mentioned before, it's really important to me to shoot real food and that food be eaten. I really don't approve of the idea of faking the food, especially in a way that makes it inedible. I understand that the goal is to get the best shot but I think the amount of waste just doesn't justify it. I really want to push the idea of "honest" or "real" food photography. Right now that poses some challenges for me though since I'm usually the one cooking the food too. This means that I have to work fast when shooting and also keep an eye on how the food is doing so I don't ruin it in the process (as it's likely to be my supper as well). That also explains why there haven't been any people in my food shots to date. I'd really like to shoot some photos of chefs working and I'm hoping that this practice will help get me ready for that kind of experience as well as give me a body of work to show when I approach someone with the idea.