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October 28, 2004



have you seen the new food bloggers photo contest proposed on the IMBB site by Ronald? I am convinced you are going to win it every month, Clement!


Thanks Sam - I'll definitely find something to enter for that! I'm constantly in awe by photos that other food bloggers take - 101 cookbooks and are my favourites.. they look so professional. Btw, thanks for sharing your Chowhound picnic photos - I really like the closeups and the food looks delicious!


it seems every posting creates a new legion of fans impressed with your photography and food-- what suggestions can you give to us of the masses for achieving more impressive images of our food?


I am getting a new camera soon. It's on order, I am always trying to take better looking pictures. I asked a friend who is a professional photographer for some tips. I haven't tried out her suggestions yet. But the main thing she said was that using daylight is the best solution. My photography teacher said the same thing. This is hard for me as our appartment is very dark inside and I nearly always do my cooking at night. The alternative would be to buy some serious lights, but well, buying the camera wiped out my bank account so i'll just have to wait.


My setup for photography is fairly simple. Basically, I place my food on a piece of white cardboard that's sloped against a window, take many shots, choose the best one, and do some post-processing in Photoshop. I'm currently using a Canon S230, a point and shoot digital camera. When I learn more about photography, I'd like to find a camera with more manual features that will at least give me greater control over the depth of field, so that I can better control what’s in and out of focus.

I agree with Sam that natural light makes a huge difference, particularly compared to incandescent lighting which tends to produce unfocused, yellow pictures. My flash makes food look fake, so I always leave it off. But I understand that if you place a flash at a 45 degree angle to the camera, and use something to diffuse its light, it should be a good substitute for daylight. Any lights with a colour temperature of 5000K should also work well to simulate daylight.

Since the food I'm shooting is usually small, I use the camera's macro function (the flower button), to shorten the depth of field.

In Photoshop, I rotate the photo (if it's obviously crooked), and crop it to the proportions I want. Then I'll adjust the Levels (usually just the highlights and midtones), and if the photo still has a tinge to it (usually blue from the sky), I'll play around with the Color Balance, or use Replace Color to make the photo less blue.

I should mention that I'm fairly new to photography, so the way I work isn't necessarily (and probably isn't) the best way. A while ago, Heidi, from 101 Cookbooks, posted some tips on eGullet which I found very useful.


Great site! I'm wondering if you think the opera cake would be as delicious if a substitution was made for the almond flour to which I'm deathly allergic. Would all-purpose work?


Hi Jillian - The closest substitute for almond flour would probably be another nut flour such as finely ground hazelnuts/filberts. I find that nut flours tend to make the sponge more moist and rich compared with wheat flour.

Since the coffee syrup and the cake's other layers will help keep the sponge moist, any sponge cake, preferably one with a fine crumb, should be a good substitute for the joconde. Simply bake the sponge in a sheet pan to get the thin layers.


Hi Clement,
Wow, awesome! The cake looks like it came from a professional pastry chef.


Kudos on your blog, photos and cooking!

I am going to attempt L'Opera this coming weekend.

In regards to food photography:
If you place the pastery on a sheet of flexible white board and sweep the board up a bit towards a window, you will get nice back top light, which is the kind many food photographers use.
Additionally, they use medium white or dull silver cards placed to the side(s) of the object to "bounce" light back into the object to "fill in" the shadows. This is crucial if you have dark parts consisting of chocolate. Try it and you will be pleased with the results. Don't be afaid to place the cards very close to the object, just be sure to not include the card in the live picture area.

Good shooting!

Steve in chilly but sunny Chicago


Hi Steve - Thank you very much for the lighting advice. I've been trying to figure out the best way to remove the hard shadows I get when I shoot at night - I'll definitely try to fill in the shadows as you suggested. Best of luck with the Opera cake; it's well worth the effort!


Deasr Clement your web pages is very beautiful and this cakes is special becaus I'm opera singer. Tahnks


Hi Tarçın - Thanks for visiting. I hope you have a chance to try making Opera Cake sometime, it's one of my favourite cakes too!


Bonjour Clement!

I revisited your site today and discovered my posting about photography and my attempt at making an opera cake. I would like to report back on my results.

I was very dilligent and kept notes as I went so as to learn from any mistakes I might make and be able to back track.

I may not have been perfect, but it turned out fabulous. I made it in honor of my son in-law's birthday and it was enjoyed by all.

I followed your directions very close and they gave me the confidence required.

I am mostly a home chef, and not a baker, but I learned the science of baking from mother and that gave me additional confidence.

Thank you for your assistance!

Steve in extraodirnarly windy Chicago on 3-13-02


This is the best cake ever!!!!
Do you think it would freeze well? I need to make two for Christmas and would like to do this ahead of time.



I've made this cake numerous times in Culinary School. Our room usually remained in the 80's, which made it close to impossible to make. It is such a delicate cake, I miss it so. It has been three years, and believe me, once you've had it again, it will probably be another three years.


Just came here from the recommendations given by daring bakers for 'opera cake'. Very beautiful cake and lovely blog too! I shall be coming back again and again:)


Hi, i just made the opera cake using your recipe, it's so delicious, everyone love it ^^.

I have a food blog too, I hope you don't me posting the recipe in my blog, of course I will give the credit and link it back to you.


Hi, i just wanted to thank you for this recipe. i made it as a birthday cake for someone and they loved it, They couldn't stop talking about it. Sadly i haven't tasted it yet, (im my toughest critic)so i still haven't had my say. I thank you again for this, the cake apperance wise was really good even though i cant decorate a cake to save my life. This recipe was really easy to follow...thanks again

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  • This is my blogchalk:
    Clement Lo,
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada, English, Male, 26, Cooking, Pastry, Restaurants, Skiing, Visual Design, Entrepreneur, Technology,
    Queen's University.

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