Get a Free Gourmet Meal In Your Neighborhood

Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 50mm Macro Lens, Canon MR-14 EX Ringlite.

I am the first to admit it: I am not a professional food photographer, as any food photographer reading this post will quickly realize. :-)

However, I can take a good enough food photo for a local restaurant's web site and menu.

That's what I did this afternoon. I took a few food photos at the local Japanese restaurant, Samurai, here in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Best of all, the meal was free: I traded the owner my photographs for 10 great - and beautiful – dishes!

Previously, the owner, knowing that I'm a photographer, asked about the trade off. I said, "Sure!" I was on my way to a great sushi meal, and he was on his way to some fresh photos.

So here's the message of this short homily: Why not ask the local restaurants in your area if you can do a trade-off: your photos for their best dishes? It never hurts to ask , you know.

Here are a few quick tips for very basic food photography:

• You'll need a macro lens for close-up shots. However, bring your wide-angle lens for wider shots.

• Carefully watch your aperture. Although pro food photographers often like to use shallow depth-of-field, the restaurant owner may like a more traditional shot, with everything in focus.

• A ring light is helpful for even lighting.

• Try to work with natural light; bring a reflector to fill in shadows, which is what I did for this photograph.

• Bring a tripod for low-light, natural light photographs.

• Shoot each dish from different angles: from the side, top, etc.

• Use digital darkroom techniques (such as vignetting and selective sharpening) to enhance your pictures.

• Be sure to ask the owner if he/she is happy with your pictures before you leave the restaurant.

• When you are all done, post your pictures on your blog in the hope of other local restaurants finding you. Note the labels for this post :-)

Hey, let me know if you plan to try this idea. And, let me know how your shoot (and food) turns out.

Explore the light – and sushi.

P.S. Sake (hot and cold) was included, in case you were wondering. :-)