KJF916 4:57am, 17 November 2006
So my new digital camera arrived a few days ago, and either I'm completely lacking in talent, or I have the worst lit home on earth. True, it's mostly overhead bright spot lights (big loft), but shouldn't that be GOOD? It isn't. Everything looks dark yellow or worse, washed out.

My digital camera, a decent model with various zoom/macro features as well as sunny, cloudy, auto, and flourescent light settings, and ISO settings, among others, takes worse pictures than my cell phone!

Someone told me I need a light box. Ok, I can do that, but what do you most of you do with your bento photography? Is any photo editing involved, or are you just all snapping wonderful pics with a secret camera I know nothing about?

Anyone use a light box?

Hmmph. ::sulking::
nadja.robot PRO 12 years ago
What camera did you get?
I have an arguably extremely nice camera (Nikon digital SLR D50) and I usually have to put it in photoshop and lighten it up a bit. I have really bad lighting in my place too (warehouse).
A lightbox seems a little silly for lunch photography.
.ams PRO 12 years ago
I have bright kitchen lights, and if I pack my lunch in the morning I get a little natural light to suppliment the kitchen lights and it usually works ok. In the evenings I use the "soft" flash setting of my Casio point 'n' shoot. Colors aren't as good, but not bad.

I infrequently edit my shots.

Is there a window you can shoot near? Or do you always pack your lunches at night? I would say before you buy a light box, you just look for a super bright spot in your house. Desktop? Bathroom counter?
Aktivistin 12 years ago
I shoot my Bento meals under a set of very bright halogen lights in the kitchen. Depending on the settings, though, I sometimes end up lightening the photo a bit in Photoshop. If the photo's too dark, though, editing doesn't really work.

It sounds like you might have a metering problem. Maybe check your camera's manual to find out how the camera meters the light in your photos.
kusine 12 years ago
I take my photos in a pretty dark office with a mediocre camera, and I usually just balance the levels for my own aesthetic happiness. I took this one yesterday in my dark office on a rainy day and only balanced the levels a teensy bit:


Are you standing too far away? Sometimes a weak flash can be a problem. Take some test photos with the flash in your place, starting father away from an object, then moving closer until you find the best point for your flash.

Good luck!
DorothySH PRO 12 years ago
I have been placing a ceramic tile on my stove and turning on the stove light. Then arrange all my pretty bento food and snap the picture using flash. This has gotten me the best results. Hope you find the right spot!
sobodda PRO Posted 12 years ago. Edited by sobodda (member) 12 years ago
I shoot most of mine on the windowsill at work...
Ms. Bento 11.15.06

There are a lot of applications out there that make quick fixes easy. For example, I love picasa, and it's free and great for organizing photos. It has a great 'auto adjust' feature (named 'i'm feeling lucky', since it was bought by google).

I'm using a tiny canon sd10, so nothing too high-tech...
KJF916 12 years ago
Thanks, everyone, for responding.

When I photograph varies ... sometimes at night, sometimes at work, by a window.

I'm fairly adept with Photoshop, Picasa, Photohouse, and a host of other photo editing software platforms -- I do all the graphics for several websites.

However, it's just TAKING the photograph that seems to be causing so much problem. I've tried the kitchen, bathroom, by the living room window. Everything is really dark, or really yellow, or really washed out, with no crisp details or clarity, and that's with pretty much every light filter setting on the cam. I have very high ceilings, with bright halogen lights in my place, and I have a terrible problem with shadows, as well.

It's a Vivitar Digital Cam. Not super high end, but not from Rite-Aid, either.

I'll keep practicing with some of your suggestions, adjusting light meters and shutter speed and see what happens, so thank you all for the suggestions. You'll have to suffer my cell phone pics awhile longer.

I'm such a baby -- sulking and all!
Subspace 12 years ago
Can you adjust the camera's white balance? A lot of time a digital camera has no way to determine what you think is white and what it thinks is white (and thus, how to balance what it is seeing). Every camera is different, so I'm reluctant to launch into a huge description of how I adjust my camera...

That being said, it's not just about lighting. Much of the time it's about agreeing on a language of "whiteness" with your camera.
KJF916 12 years ago
Thanks, sub.

There are several white / light balance levels, and I've tried them all, without any apparent effect on the quality. For instance, I've taken a photo of one item with the "sunny" "indoor" "cloudy" "flourescent" and "auto" settings -- and there is no apparent difference in quality, other than degrees of yellow and brown background.

It may be useful to have someone who is a realtively photographer / blogger watch me and say "you idiot, don't do that." So...I'll need to trick one into coming over.

I keep looking at the camera, and a manual hoping to see a huge button that says "press here, dumbass" but have not found it yet.

Subspace Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Subspace (member) 12 years ago
On my little point and shoot (not even close to an SLR, I assure you) there are those same "sunny" and "cloudy" options, but one of them is also "white balance pre(set)" or, manual white balance adjustment. This is, unlike all the other options, not an out-of-the-box preset - it could be the difference between and okay photo and that "dark yellow or worse" that you're talking about.

It is entirely possible that your camera is of poor quality, despite it not being a Rite Aid camera. I hate to say it, but it's happened to my family members before. You might look it up on the internets and see if anyone else has had similar problems. I like Steve's Digicams personally.
KJF916 Posted 12 years ago. Edited by KJF916 (member) 12 years ago
Thanks, Sub, you've been really helpful -- I appreciate the time you've taken to answer -- and I'll do that.
DorothySH PRO 12 years ago
I downloaded the free program sobodda wrote of and I so love it. I just wanted to say that as it really does help with the pictures. I had some totally black photos I had taken outside, non bento related, but hit I'm feeling lucky just the same. To my amazement out came a photo. It was not totally clear and pretty, but considering where it came from it was outstanding. Now if it could do that just imagine how great Bentos everywhere can look!
sobodda PRO 12 years ago
I'm glad you like! I've been using it for a while (originally to post photos straight to a blogger blog) and it's gotten better and better. I also love being able to tag photos, email directly from there...cool stuff.
KJF916 Posted 12 years ago. Edited by KJF916 (member) 12 years ago
I love Picasa for organizing. I'm forever saving photos to random photos and it certainly helps make sense out of nonsense, at times, when you're saving on the fly.

I've never used it to post to blogs, however...I'll have to check that out.
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