Judge: Paul Byrne
Make it yummy or thirst quenching. And remember not to eat/drink your props

Food is really visual, we enjoy the sight of it so be Creative or make it just as it is.  Make it yummy.


Think about the background   

  • https://expertphotography.com/food-photography-backgrounds/ 

Think about your lighting - remember to be creative and don't use this as an excuse for buying all the lighting equipment. It's not MCC telling you to :-) 

  • https://twolovesstudio.com/blog/basic-light-setup-food-photography/#:~:text=The%20foundational%20light%20set%20up,as%20staple%20light%20manipulation%20aids.  

And there's also the angle to consider

  • - https://expertphotography.com/best-camera-angles-food-photography/


Set Subject

From Paul Byrne

Image of the month: New Years Resolutions by Sue Henley 

Grade Title Result  Comments
C GRADE - SET Subject       
C A Little Drop M The ‘full-bodied’ glass of red wine immediately prompted memories of visiting vineyards in the Marlborough Region. I enjoyed the twist of vine leaves around the stem which leads to the top of the glass. This has lifted the image and helped to draw the viewer into the focal point. The window lighting is pleasant and helps to create a natural colour palette to the scene. I find myself distracted by the shadows in the backdrop which have been caused but creases in the clothe. Whilst this may have been intentional, I feel that a less distracting background could enhance the image further. The separate leaf in the bottom right hand corner adds another element to the scene and is well placed to create a triangular effect between the vine and the glass. Well done
C Brunch A A tempting plate of food which prompts me to ask the question; “What is this dish?” The salad speaks for itself and looks very appealing. However, the main dish is unclear to me. Could it be something with cheese, is that a potato topping? etc. Possibly providing a clue in the image title might have helped in this instance. The image is very tight to the frame and I feel that it needs a little more ‘breathing room’ so that it does not appear so cramped in the space. There is a yellow colour cast across the image which in my opinion, may have been caused by an incorrect white balance setting on the camera. I enjoy the perspective chosen by this photographer which indicates advanced  thought and planning. 
C GRADE - OPEN      
C A splash of colour M The simplicity of this image conceals the ‘quick’ eye of the photographer who waited for the correct moment to release the shutter. The woman walking into the scene, seems to be admiring the artwork, whilst eating a sandwich. In my view, she is placed neatly on a third to enhance the composition. The artists’ work adds two well placed silhouettes of ballet dancers. Together these increase the main character elements to 3, which again adds to the compositional production of this work. I did wonder if presenting this image as a monochrome image might reduce the clash of colours between the pink jacket and the orange circle which the woman is walking through. However, on reflection, that would move the image away from it’s title. This is a really good example of ‘Street Photography’ and the story is well captured.
C Two lamps M I feel this image is about lines, textures and a sense of place. The number 32, in conjunction with the Havana Bar sign, combine to provide a kind of welcome porthole. The lamps, being illuminated, suggest a friendly and inviting environment lies within. I enjoy the textures on the wooden walls accompanied by the flaking paintwork. I did feel that the whites in the skylights were a little bright. They tend to draw the eye away from the two orange lamps which are the intended focal point of the image. I suggest the photographer considers trying to reduce the brightness in the skylights as this would shift focus back to the two lamps. I’m not too sure what happened in the bottom lefthand corner where there is a slither of something odd which runs along the bottom edge to about the midway point. I wondered if this might have been a crop which was incomplete. I very much enjoyed the perspective selected by the photographer. It really complements the image. With a little more attention to detail, I feel this image could do well in future competitions.
B GRADE -  SET Subject       
B Dairy Free A Whilst this is another colourful plate of food, I am again left to wonder what the main ingredient might be. It looks like a piece of battered fish or deep fried camembert cheese - but then neither would be dairy free. In this case the shallow depth of field has reduced the clarity of the subject matter. To my eyes, only the lettuce leaf, bottom left, and tomato immediately next to it are in focus. I felt the cropping of this image was not well considered. For me, it looks too random and does not enhance the subject matter. Whilst three sides of the dish are clipped by cropping, the top edge is very close to what is effectively the main food item. This seems to make the food appear cramped for space. Whilst the colours are vibrant, I feel the photograph contains a few over exposed highlights
B Mocktail M This drink looks quite inviting and rather dangerous for a non-alcoholic cocktail. Doubtless the vibrant colours have played their part in that regard.  Let me first address the ‘clipping’ issue. In this image, it seems to have been a deliberate choice made by the photographer. If the idea is to focus on the drink, the cropping of the glass, straw and lemon, has worked successfully. This, in my opinion, was not an accident or an oversight but a deliberate ploy to enhance the focal point. And for me, it works. I felt the lighting was a little strong on the slice of lemon which has caused an overexposure issue in the lemon peel [No detail in the whites] Occasionally, it can be a good idea to use a fill-light opposite the main light. In this case, a white napkin, or light coloured beermat might suffice. If this was placed to the left of the image, some of the main-light source would be reflected back into the shadows of the image. This often creates a more natural looking effect. Good effort.
B One year later A My first thought was to ask myself, “Is this Time-Lapse” photography? - I suspect not in the conventional term of that expression! Anyway, the photographer has demonstrated what happens to an apple as it breaks down and rots away over a period of time. I felt that allowing the plates to be clipped by the frame on each side was distracting and I recommend the photographer checks the fine detail during the set-up stage to avoid disappointment later on. For some reason the lefthand plate seems to be distorted and dropping down towards the left. It’s as if that plate has been reduced in size. The apples are both sharply focused and prominently placed within the frame. The background matting is simple and unobtrusive. This was an unusual and interesting way of representing the set subject.
B The Cake A The farming activities affixed to the side of the cake really sent the message that this cake had been made to celebrate the annual A&P Show. I wondered if this might be a prize-winning cake or one created for publicity [or the VIP tent?]  Photographically, I feel the image is a little flat in terms of the lighting. The whites don’t seem to be as bright as they should be. The image feels as if it might have been taken in a tent whilst on display - this may have been the cause of the apparent lighting situation. In my opinion, placing the cake in the centre of the image makes the subject matter rather static. I would suggest the photographer considers raising the angle of the camera a little so that the refreshed perspective would also include the wording on top gf the cake. Additionally, a second element such as a knife or glass of bubbly would also improve the composition and enhance the image.
B GRADE - OPEN      
B Lone rook M At first glance, one might be forgiven for thinking that the sky is an unusual colour of yellow. However, I’ve  taken images of birds at dusk which, to my surprise, produced an equally saturated yellow palette. I can’t be certain that this is the case in this instance, however it is [in my opinion] entirely possible.  The composition appears to me to be a little ‘stage managed’. I feel that having the wire entering and leaving the image in exactly opposing diagonal corners, has tended to bisect the image in an odd way. Whilst it does create two triangular shapes, I feel that the symmetry is less appealing; particularly as the wire is undulating and not taut. That said, there is a rather neat simplicity to this image.
B The Dancing Alien H This scene reminds me of November 5th. The one date in the year when we are almost guaranteed to see “Aliens” dancing in the skies the World over. I feel this image has captured the spectacle of exploding projectiles and the star-burst shapes which they create. My search for the Alien lead me to the central area of gold and white lighting. Here, my eye seems to see the silhouette of an angel-shaped being. It seems to me that the photographer has demonstrated good use of long exposure, and/or, multiple exposure techniques. Well done
A GRADE -  SET Subject       
A Berry Berry Good H I find this to be a well constructed still-life image. Composition and exposure are very well handled and all the elements compliment one another. The blue berries seem plentiful and well lit, the bowl has a fruit motif or design, the strawberries are placed for impact and to top things off, the reflection is a great bonus to this image.
A canape's are served A For me, this image evokes the suggestion of a formal occasion such as a garden party or possibly a wedding reception. The tray of canapés is clearly the focus of attention however, the food appears to be somewhat subdued by the tray, the hands of the waitress, the recipients beer can etc. Compositionally, I feel this is an image where less surroundings might improve the visible detail of the main subject. I suggest the photographer considers recomposing the image so that just the two hands are included. Even cutting the left hand corner off the tray could be considered. Exposure detail is good and I suspect those canapés were quickly consumed.
A Crema, The Coffee was Great A Someone clearly enjoyed their coffee as indicated by this empty cup, which is now stained by the residue from the crema. The spoon and reflections in the saucer bring additional elements to the scene. As an image for this set subject, I feel that the crema as shown, is only a small part of the image whilst the cup, saucer and table dominate the scene. Possibly a closer view of the detail of the crema and cup might have made a stronger story for this particular subject. The image is sharp and well exposed.
A Hurry Up!! A I can almost hear the deafening screech of that seagull bellowing from it’s gapping beak. Compositionally, the bird is placed one of the thirds, however it is looking out of the scene and my eye tends to move in that direction and out of the image. The white feathers on the seagulls back are over exposed with no detail available to be seen. Whilst the “Reserved @ 10.30” sign caught my attention it was not retained by it. I think the seagull is actually saying; “Where’s the Food and/or Drink?”
Whilst I appreciate the humour and good intentions of the photographer, I feel the absence of actual food and/or drink rather excludes the image from this Set Subject.
A New Years Resolutions Honours  A simple idea which fits the set subject perfectly. The tape measure is a clear nod to the title and I wondered who it was aimed at? Since a dress makers tape was used I wondered if this was a wife to husband concept! Or could it be the other way around? Enough speculation, this artwork is very well presented. Composition, exposure, colours, various shapes and the moisture are exceedingly complimentary to each other. The background is unobtrusive and neatly placed in soft focus. Well done.
A Red, Ripe and Ready M The strawberries in my garden did not do as well this year due to the dryish weather conditions. However, these look fresh, plump and desirable. The lighting has been well executed to avoid specular highlights, whilst still emphasising the red colour of the fruit. The black background works well and tends to support the pretty bowl with it’s complimentary artwork. Because the reflection is not connected to the bowl and is located a short distance away, I felt this tended to draw the eye out of the scene prematurely. Possibly changing the perspective so that the camera angle was slightly higher, might improve the composition.
A Spoilt for Choice H Wow! What a stalwart collection of aged single malt whiskies! I can’t wait to finish my appraisals and head off to the drinks cabinet for my 5 o’clock ritual. However, back to the task in hand. - This is a very well crafted image. The bottles are neatly arranged in a semicircle and set on a wooden shelf. The rich warm glow of the wooden surfaces seems to mirror the blend of malts on display. The scene is well composed and the three small ornaments add extra interest. The two bearded characters are both facing inwards which helps to retain the viewer’s eye within the frame. Exposure and lighting are both complimentary to the subject matter.
A time for a cold beer H It is now 3.30pm on a hot & sunny, summer’s afternoon. As soon as I saw this image, I felt the need of cold refreshment. So I headed into the kitchen to draw an iced water from the refrigerator!   I enjoyed this image because it provoked me into action. If one of these beers had been in the fridge, doubtless I might have been very tempted.   The can, being sharp, is clearly the focal point of the image. The water droplets and condensation, on and around the can, indicate the chill factor. Seeing the ice cubes and additional beer cans in the background suggested to me that the cans might be in a chilly-bin. Being supper picky, I would suggest that you darken the background slightly, and then increase the white lettering on the main can to make it stand out. A good set subject image.
A GRADE - OPEN      
A Blue jean Poison Dart Frog M The ‘Blue Jean’ title seems obvious once you look at those dark blue legs in contrast to the bright orange body of this frog. Because of the harsh black background, I wondered if this particular frog was held in captivity or if it was situated in the wild. I enjoyed the foliage surrounding the frog, particularly the leaf it is sitting on with that damaged end. However, I felt that less is sometimes more effective and I suggest the photographer might wish to consider reframing the creature so that there was less foliage in the background. The frog is sharp and clearly quite a small creature to observe.
A Christchurch Art Gallery H I am intrigued by the curves, lines and rectangles which make up this image. Apart from the top roof, everything seems to be at odds with it’s adjacent component parts. For example the supporting pillar in the centre seems not to be vertical whilst apparently supporting an otherwise vertical building. The curve on the left building seems to be ‘out-of-kilter’ with conventional building structure. Hats off to the Architect and to the photographer for choosing this perspective. A well seen and demanding image which retained my attention for some time
A Fern & Fungi A I feel that the natural colour palette of this woodland setting works well. The composition works, and the exposure/lighting are supportive of the subject and it’s environment. To me, the images is very soft and only small amounts of sharpness exist. For example the top of the fungi is soft compared with the front lower portion of the cap. Similarly, the fern nearest the camera [and the larger leaf of the two, is mainly blurred. I feel that a greater depth of field [higher aperture no.] might have resolved this issue. When both the fern and the fungi are mentioned in the title, I would expect them both to be sharp as they are the identified subject matter. The bark in the background provides information about where these plants grow which is a useful element in the image.
A Hull and Reflection M I  really think the photographer of this abstract image has a keen eye for the unusual. Overall, I think this is one of the more successful abstracts which I have been asked to assess during the past 12 months. The tile is revealing, [thank you] - without that information, it may have taken longer to establish what I was observing. I enjoy the colour palette and the juxtaposition of the vertical lines on hull, apropos the squiggly horizontal selections. In turn, the lighter reflections in the water are returned to the hull above the water mark. I do feel the grey/white strip at the top of the image tends to pull the eye rather than complement the structure of the overall image and I recommend that the photographer considers a crop to exclude that area. A successful abstract, well done.
A In the Pink A This is a pleasing portrait which crates a memorable time in an apparently idyllic setting. I feel the lady is sitting in the shade and wondered if there was an opportunity to use an on-camera ‘fill’ flash to lighten her face. The photographer may be able to recreate that effect in post production by selectively adjusting the exposure in that area. To me, the colour of the blouse seems to be at odds with the purple hues of the flowers and I wondered if tweaking the colour adjustment/correction sliders might reduce or remove the impact of this distraction. The subject is well placed in the scene which helps the composition.
A Kingfisher M The strong colours and hues really draw viewers towards this kingfisher as it sits proudly on it’s perch. The chosen depth of field has resulted in detailed sharpness on the bird’s plumage. A catchlight within it’s eye helps to bring life to an otherwise static pose. Compositionally, I feel the subject is a little central.  Removing a small amount from the right hand edge of the image might increase the persona of this little chap.
A Okarito Boatshed M I feel the photographer has chosen a really great day to obtain this image. The stormy looking sky seems to complement the weathered woodwork of the building and decking area. The remains of the posts on the left, may once have supported a jetty. For me, they bring interesting detail to the scene. As presented I am prompted to think about what shipping might once have been in this area. I feel that it is unfortunate that the horizon line bisects the image by cutting straight through the subject. One possible solution might be to consider changing the perspective so that the tops of the railings become viewed against plain water, rather than being lost in the foliage of the distant shore. Another distracting detail is the white sign on the lefthand side of the building. I feel that if this could be toned down or removed in post production the image would be much stronger. To me this is an image which has been well exposed, with just the correct amount of light falling on the structure and the water on the left hand side.
A The SS Waverley A I have observed a number of images of the SS Waverley over the years and I’m certain that the ship continues to deteriorate. I enjoy the bright orange rust in this instance, together with the scribblings and graffiti running along the hull.  Whilst the distant headland and water provide a sense of location and add some interest, I feel they also act as a distraction to the main subject. I found that me eye was constantly drawn to that area and the foreground foliage. This composition seems to present the viewer with a choice between two halves - The hull on the left and the landscape on the right. Possible finding another perspective to shoot from might enhance this image.
A Violet sabrewing hummingbird H I believe the photographer has demonstrated considerable skill within this image. A suitably fast shutter speed combined with an appropriate ISO and Aperture settings have helped to freeze the action of this fast moving creature. It allows viewers to pause and see a moment in time which they might not otherwise see. The subject matter is sharp in all the right places whilst the background is both complementary and unobtrusive. The only icing on the cake which might have improved this presentation, would have been the inclusion of the ends of the two petals which are cut by the bottom of the frame. Having said that, the photographer has made a strong and remarkable action shot of this humming Bird.
Thank you for allowing me to comment on this image. 
A We are Family A Whenever a song title is applied to an image, I find myself humming that tune for the rest of the day! That was certainly true in this case.  The colour palette strongly assists in setting the scene for this ‘family’ portrait! For some reason, the human eye finds that odd numbers are more pleasing than even numbers when it comes to artwork. So for that reason, the three plants within this frame help the composition to be ‘easy on the eye’. The depth of field is good providing a gentle softness to all but the main area if interest. I am curious to know what these plats are called and I felt the image needed another element in the scene. For example, an open flower or emerging seedpod, might provide the viewer with further interest and help to retain their attention span.  [As a side issue, please be reminded that had the photographer entered this image into a Nature competition, the judges would deduct marks because the subject matter was not correctly identified within the title. That does not apply in Open competitions.]
A White Heron Wading (kotuku) M Given sufficient time, I will happily observe herons and other wading birds for a past time. They are such a joy to watch and follow as they search for and collect food. This image is sharp and by placing the heron on one of the thirds, there is plenty of room to the left for it to walk into. Good composition. Whilst I like the inclusion of the reflection, because it adds additional interest to the story, I would like to suggest that the sky could be removed without detrimental effect. I feel that by doing so, the heron would become even more dominant in the scene. I feel the white plumage along the heron’s back is overexposed which is unfortunate. I recommend that when shooting wildlife [particularly birds] photographers should consider using the centre weighted or spot metering system in their camera settings. [If available] This will help to expose for the highlights and reduce the risk of over compensating for the darker areas in the scene. Well done.